Hiking in the Purcell Mountains

Purcell Lodge – Walking on Top of the World

by Jonathon Reynolds

Helicopter on pad slide size copyNestled on the edge of a huge alpine meadow on the shoulder of Bald Mountain at an altitude of 2200 meters (7200’) Purcell Lodge looks tiny from window of the helicopter. As we descend in a dizzying swoop the Lodge grows in size until it fills the front windscreen of
the chopper. Staff wait to help us off the helicopter and ferry our gear to the lodge. All gear is weighed before takeoff with strict weight limits being imposed due to the lift restrictions on the helicopters. In a 15 minute flight we have been whisked over the mountains from Golden, B.C. to remote wilderness. The closest road (a rough lumber road) to Purcell Lodge is a 14 kilometre hike away crossing at least one fair-sized river. This place is truly remote. All the building materials were flown in by helicopter and all food is flown in and all garbage including compost is flown back out to ensure that there is as little impact on the local area as possible.

 

Happy hiker

 

As we listen to the helicopter fade away into the distance we look around and soak up the peace and quiet and start to appreciate the view. Leading to the horizon is a huge meadow stretching from the Lodge towards a distant range of peaks. In the other direction Copper Stain Mountain and its neighbours cut us off from Golden. Mountains that seemed small as we flew through and over them now look huge.

The Lodge has three floors. The top floor is for guest bedrooms and washrooms – no ensuite rooms here – except in the ‘honeymoon suite’, a small cabin adjacent to the lodge!  Every room has an incredible view looking out over the pristine high alpine landscape. The main floor of the Lodge is where the kitchens are, where the wet gear room is and where the large lounge with a stone fireplace and large dining area is located. Meals here are taken altogether at the big tables. Don’t for a second think that because the eating is informal that it is anything less than gourmet food. The food is so good they have even published a cookbook! The chef supplies food that is imaginative and a delight to eat and then as if to prove how good the food is the chef sits down with you and shares the meal. It is a wonderful system that makes a family out of a group of strangers very quickly.

 

Ridge walking

 

 

 

The real magic of Purcell though is not in the lodge but in what lies around the lodge. Almost endless hiking trails or ski options depending on the season. Surreal hiking through mountain meadows awash in flowers. Then up the ridgeline of mountains above snow banks and glacial lakes to the top where seemingly endless views greet the hikers. In the winter the snow here is legendary – deep powder, long lines and no one else but the guests of the lodge. No matter what the season Purcell Lodge is a true dream vacation – a way to get away from all the stress and challenges in the rest of the world – here it seems that all is at peace and worries are left on the helicopter as it flies back to Golden.

Glacial Lake Purcell

 

Golden, British Columbia

Tourism Rockies
250-427-4838
http://www.kootenayrockies.com

Tourism BC
1-800-HELLO BC / 1-800-435-5622
travel.bc.ca

Golden & District Chamber of Commerce
1-800-622-GOLD or 250-344-7125
www.goldenchamber.bc.ca

Road Conditions
http://www.drivebc.ca/