Yoga, cycle, patio time: You need to visit Fernie


Written and photographed by CHRIS ISTACE

Fernie, B.C. – If you were to tell a friend you were going to the mountains of Fernie, what would come to mind? Images of challenging multi-day treks in alpine wilderness, fearless climbs up huge rock walls, adrenaline-pumping mountain trail riding or daring white-water rafting?

Sure, you can do all of that in this part of British Columbia, but look deeper and you'll find that Fernie has a more peaceful side flowing through it and that there's another way to experience the region. I took a trip there to check out its gentler side and discovered that you really can get in touch with nature and find mindfulness in the mountains.

Fernie is a historic town located in southeast B.C. and nestled within the Kootenay region of the Canadian Rockies. This is a community built on hard work, but also with a deep connection to nature and a big part of the residents’ everyday lives. Surrounded by the peaks of the Lizard Range, Three Sisters and Mt. Hosmer, I felt peace and contentment in this mountain oasis.

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Photo: Chris Istace

For me, mindfulness means slowing down, listening to your thoughts and body and grounding yourself with nature. In Fernie, that’s easy to do whether you have one day or a whole weekend.

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Video by Chris Wheeler Media

I had the pleasure of joining locals, Christine Grimble and Marie Lefebre to take in a slice of this nature-loving spot.

A great way to start the early morning hours is to glide along the calm waters of Maiden Lake on a stand-up paddleboard. To help us with our paddle board experience, Jon Knauf of Mountain High Adventures provided all the equipment to start our day right. As the rising sun warmed my face, the silence of daybreak put me in a tranquil mood. After a few strokes of the paddle, the tension drifted away.

Photo: Chris Istace

Now that our day was set on the right path, we planned to leave the vehicle behind for the day. Today was about slowing down and immersing ourselves in nature. The best way to do this is on two wheels with a fun Townie Bike rental from The Guides Hut. I instantly relax and got the biggest smile when I hop on a bike and Christine and Marie, from what I could see, felt the same way.

On our bikes, we made short work of the easily navigable trail network of Fernie and area. We visited Dogwood Park along the fast-moving waters of Elk River. I was struck by the view from here, because it’s an incredible front-row seat to the Lizard Range and Mt. Fernie Provincial Park. We weren’t the only ones soaking up the beauty and relaxing; people were clearly enjoying themselves at the nearby benches and picnic tables.

Photo: Chris Istace

Back on the bikes, we continued on the trails and roads passing by the character homes lining the streets of Fernie. Crossing Highway 3 to the other side of town, brought us to Essential Yoga Studio.

We were already in a pretty relaxed state of mind, but now it was time for a different level of Zen. A slow and calming yoga practice was the perfect way to follow up our bike ride before getting back outside and into the forest.

Mt. Fernie Provincial Park is the perfect escape from the noise and buzz of the town. Along the Lizard Creek trail, we walked beneath the canopy of towering cedars and spruce breathing in the fresh air. The small wildflowers were a burst of colour and we were feeling like we didn’t have a care in the world.

Rejuvenated by the forest, Christine and Marie were ready to be pampered. 

Spa901, is a cool spot, located in the historic Fernie high school built in 1908. While Christine and Marie indulged in the Girlfriend’s Getaway package, including facials, a hot stone pedicure and the hot tub, I took the time to do a little more exploring.

Photo: Chris Istace

The one thing I picked up on is that Fernie has expertise in the outdoor patio scene. Just take your pick. The entire brick-building lined Main Street is jumping with patios, from bistros to pubs and cafes.

Marie and Christine met me at the Valley Social Company and the late day sun invited us onto the patio to cap off the day for a bite to eat and a cool drink.

My time in Fernie impressed me as a place for a fantastic weekend getaway, and a spot to gear down into a slower pace and focus on the simple things. It left me with the sense that this is where mindfulness meets the mountains.

If You Go

Check into Tourism Fernie and start planning. 

Begin planning your trip to Fernie via the HelloBC website.

Uncover more adventures in the Canadian Rockies. Check out ZenSeekers' #RockiesExploring Expedition page to see how you can have an adventure like this.

Chris Istace is a ZenSeekers' correspondent, he can be found at The Mindful Explorer and on Instagram and Twitter.

Watch #RockiesExploring Highlights on YouTube.

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