A Magical Hideaway in the BC Woods at Owl Ridge
Spontaneous Spring 2019 Road Trip
The cabin at Owl Ridge near Riondel, BC is not just any cabin. For readers to understand what significance this log cabin situated in the woods above Kootenay Lake’s east shore has to Christa and I, you would need to have a little more insight into our love story.
A little back story
We met in Grade 7 at a junior school in the remote farming town of Tzaneen in South Africa. Christa’s parents had recently returned to Africa to continue their work in the mission field, landing up being based in our little town. We attended most of our high school years together before she returned to Canada with her family at the end of our Grade 12 year. That was in 1988. Through a series of life events and much water passing beneath our respective life-bridges we reconnected in 2010 when I had opportunity to visit my brother and his family who had relocated from Ontario to Calgary in that year. While visiting I reconnected with Christa who, “coincidentally”, was also living in Calgary.
Upon returning to South Africa, and through some further convoluted events that included me “rescuing” Christa during a holiday in Turkey in the summer of 2010, I began to redevelop a growing tenderness and love for this delightful girl. So, during the Canadian summer of 2011 I travelled to Calgary from South Africa for a month-long visit. During this time, I hung out and became reacquainted with this lady who, somehow, had already captured a corner of my heart over 25 years earlier!
During the final week of my Canadian holiday we decided to take a road trip to Vancouver to visit family and friends. En route, we detoured via Riondel, BC. It was then that we first stayed at Owl Ridge. During our overnight stop here I initiated the heart-to-heart chat about where our relationship might be going. It was on this Monday night, July 18th, sitting beside a fire in the woods at the cabin, that we decided we would officially start a long-distance dating relationship.
By that Friday, July 22nd, I had upped the tempo by proposing to Christa in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Yes, I’d come to Canada on my four-week vacation prepared for this to be my end-goal. And fortunately, Christa responded with a resounding “yes” to my proposal! By that Sunday I was jetting back to South Africa as a happily engaged man. We were married in that October, and so continued our romantic journey. Needless to say, that cabin in the woods had a significant and memorable part to play in our love story.
The “cabin” at Owl Ridge
The reference to “cabin” is somewhat misleading. This is not a rustic lean-to with no running water or heating. Instead, this is a double-story log-built home. With sleeping for at least eight – or more, if you count the sleeper couches in the living room – the home can accommodate families for a reunion, provide the perfect destination for the gathering of the clans migrating from different directions on the map, or be a hideaway for a retreat. The home boasts a welcoming entry portico with sofa and wood-burning fire stove for heating –a romantic cuddle spot, a well-equipped kitchen, a dining nook, a spacious living room kitted with TV, DVDs, games and books, and a 3-piece bathroom including laundry facilities. A wrought-iron balustrade leads from the entry portico up a curved wooden stairway to the loft sleeping area. Here an open-plan family bedroom extends onto a small balcony. A separate airy, naturally lit over-sized main bedroom is equipped with two queen sized beds. The bedroom also features a free-standing cast-iron bath that overlooks the back yard and the ridge that gives the cabin its name, Owl Ridge. It’s other-worldly.
Depending on the season, extensive use can be made of the outdoor living facilities surrounding the home. That “famous” fire pit where Christa and I formally started dating occupies a generous space nestled amongst the wild vegetation in the front yard. Here, benches and well-worn Adirondack chairs allow for easy and extended fireside visits.
The back yard is equipped with a barbecue, patio chairs and table on a rustic slate patio opening to a grass patch overlooked by flower beds that are home to a dense treasure trove of flowers and shrubs that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Acquiescing here translocates my mind and emotions to magical places from a fantasy world.
If relaxing isn’t your thing, then a walk up the ridge behind the cabin leads to an enchanted woodland where you might be lucky enough to spot the tiny Northern Pygmy Owls that gave this ridge its name. You are more likely to see deer and should also be vigilant and on the lookout for bears that sometimes frequent the neighbourhood! A walk to the end of the ridge will reward you with a rustic bench where you can sit and absorb the tranquil silence and sweeping views of the lake. Ainsworth Hot Springs can be seen on the opposite shore.
A visit to Riondel and Crawford Bay
If time allows you to explore the area beyond the cabin then you may want to drive to the end of the road where you will find Riondel. This sleepy hamlet has a small golf course, an old mine to explore, a beautifully situated campsite and access to a picturesque pebbled beach with safe swimming.
Alternatively, you should definitely pay a visit to nearby Crawford Bay to explore the variety of artisan-owned shops there. The unique and renowned North Woven Broom Company requires a mandatory visit, while pottery from Dog Patch Pottery, metalwork from Kootenay Forge and woven wares from Barefoot Handweaving Studio will no doubt cause you to willingly part with some of your hard-earned dollars. Be sure to enjoy a meal at the Black Salt Café. Basic food and other supplies can be purchased at the Crawford Bay Market.
A free ferry ride away
If you’re up to exploring further afield, consider catching the free ferry across the lake from nearby Kootenay Bay to Balfour. From here you can visit numerous artisan shops on the west shore. A shopping and exploration visit to Neslon or an afternoon of soaking at Ainsworth Hot Springs would be a great way to pass the time before catching the ferry home. Enquire with the locals or online for estimated ferry departure and arrival times. Be prepared to line up and wait for ferry loadings. Basic washroom facilities and amenities are available at each docking location, but you would do well to bring a book, camera, snacks and toys to keep fellow travellers entertained during the wait and for the 30-minute ferry ride.
Note: Reservation enquiries for Owl Ridge can be made directly with owners Leroy and Sarah.
The cabin is available for rental from spring through to early winter.
Bedding and towels are supplied. More information is available directly from the Owners.