I Love Lake

Summer carries with it moods as varied as the heat of the sun. Barbecues and busy gatherings with friends, baseball games and afternoon dips, a pitched tent on a sandy shoreline, the need for complete solitude beneath cliffs of a summit. Summers in Fernie are fraught with opportunity—sometimes the hardest part is choosing where to begin.

What's not hard is finding a place to go for a swim. There's a freshwater source for the hiker, the biker, the fisher and the lounger. Just down the street, or miles away up some mysterious peak. It depends only on how far you want to go, and for how long.

If staying in town's your jam, the beautiful, pristine Elk River is your best bet. The chilly water meanders from beneath one bridge to the next, encapsulating the busy streets and trails in some sacred dance of flowing perfection. Adventure along the riverbanks to find your perfect spot—a hidden swim hole, some adrenaline-inducing rapids, a sandy beach for suntanning. The Elk River saves Fernie residents on those long, scorching days, and gives everyone equal opportunity to chill their feet.

Further up the highway, along a dirt road (or trail, depending on your preferred mode of transportation) is the serene Island Lake. The small lake, almost green and encrusted in evergreens, is a quiet spot home to hiking trails and the world-class Island Lake Lodge. Rent a canoe and paddle the lake in the shade of the Lizard Range on a hot day, then head in for bison burgers and a pint of beer. Or spend your day hiking the infamous Spineback Ridge to a rocky outcrop overlooking Fernie far below, and spot a favourite watering hole for yourself.

The South Country area has a multitude of lakes to jump into. If what you imagine more on a scorching summer day is your feet burning in the hot sand and extravagant people watching, there's no better place for it than Koocanusa Campsite & Marina.Follow the turn off from Hwy. 3 onto Kikomun Newgate Rd. until you reach the long bridge, then turn left into the marina. You'll notice a beautiful beach with floating docks, and there's even a place for burgers and ice cream. Or, if you're like me, save the hunger for 3&93 Dairy Bar on your way back into town—sit and eat poutines and ice creams while watching hummingbirds zoom in and around the nearby spruce trees.

Just before Koocanusa lies Surveyor's Lake, complete with full campground and facilities. The lake has two beaches, a nice walking trail, and beautiful turtles on nearly every bobbing log. The turtles find sanctuary here, and make an easy and magical distraction for the kids just long enough for you to enjoy a good book and your picnic lunch. The lake is also perfect if you want an extended swim—sometimes there's nothing better than floating on your back under the sun. Or look to Tie Lake for a similar experience.

For something a little more unique, book a boat with Sunshine Houseboats & Marina. Gather a group of girlfriends and spend a weekend on the lake, fly off the houseboat slide or soak in the houseboat hot tub. Float from beach to secluded beach and lie on a floating unicorn in the lapping waves from passing boats. Savour the solitude of summer goodness.

If you find you're more endeared by the sense of adventure, take a look at a topographic map or google earth and find your own secret lake or swim hole. We are lucky to live in Canada, so filled with fresh water we could never imagine swimming in all the lakes and rivers outside our front doors.

Wherever you go, don't forget to bring a towel. As always, in Fernie, you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Born and raised in Fernie, BC Jesse Bell is a freelance writer and photographer who enjoys time spent in the mountains. For more on her adventures, check out her previous column Never Have I Ever on ferniefix.com.