Kootenay Local Secrets by Mike

Kootenay Local Secrets by Mike

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Each month we will be sharing stories from explorers in the Kootenays! This week we featured Mike McPhee. Mike moved from Winnipeg, MB to Lake Louise, AB for a winter in 1995 and ended up staying in the Rockies for a lifetime! Mike has a couple thousand photos published now in all kinds of magazine, books and printed material and he tries to get out shooting whenever possible.  After spending about 7 years in Golden BC, he ended up in Fernie, BC and he's currently the Marketing Director at Island Lake Lodge.  He has also produced and directed several videos and TV shows including the most recent - Winter of our Content.  Mike loves the Kootenay's and can’t imagine living anywhere else now! 

To see more of Mike's photography be sure to view his Instagram feed: Mike McPhee.


1) In your opinion, what is the Kootenay's best kept secret?

Hummm that’s a tough one.  I think there are a variety of awesome things that are not as well know to the world.  The diversity of the landscapes comes to mind. From the arid Rocky Mountains Trench and Ponderosa Pine forests to the high alpine in some of the mountain ranges to the vast amount of lakes and rivers. But I guess I would say that the best kept secret is the amount of awesome forest rec-sites for camping.  There are probably several hundred in the region and all of them are located in an amazing place.

2) Describe one of your favourite epic days in the Kootenays?

I have had a few waist deep blower pow days that are hard to beat! Catskiing at Island Lake Lodge!

(There is something about wide open turns in the alpine, that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.)

3) Name your top '3 things' you love about the Kootenays.  

I love the unique little towns that are sprinkled through the region. Each has a unique character and vibe. The number of amazing rivers that offer world class fly fishing is for sure at the top of my list.  Also, the Powder Highway and all the amazing ski and snowboard destinations along it are hard to beat. These are some of the characteristics that set the Kootenays apart from the rest of the province and world for that matter.

(Ben Ogilvie hitting this natural wind lip with a Rodeo 720, at Island Lake Lodge.)

4) If you could choose that one spot in the Kootenays that makes you the happiest, where would it be?  

That is super hard, but I guess I would say a certain river that is a tributary of the Elk River… super scenic, gin clear water and big trout!

(The upper Elk River valley is a wild and raw place. I think the dramatic weather in this image captures that.)

5) How does getting out in our backcountry inspire you?  

Spending time in the backcountry has taught me about what is important in life.  It has shown me how small we are in the grand scheme of things, it has made be appreciate the quiet moments and to be more contemplative overall. It has really shown me where I am most happy, at ease and in tune with the natural world.

(A bit of forest fire smoke in this image adds a mystical zen landscape quality to it.)


Responses and all photos by Mike McPhee.

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Tags: Canadian Rockies Explore Canada ExploreBC The Kootenays

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