A Photowalk Along the Columbia River - Andrea Kuipers

A Photowalk Along the Columbia River

Usually when I travel to the Columbia-Kootenay region of British Columbia, the ground is covered in snow, the mountains are hidden by fog, and I am lucky if the plane is able to land! As lovely as the snow covered landscapes and holidays with family are, it was a pleasant change to visit in springtime when the mountains are full of lush green foliage, the incredible heat of summer has not yet arrived, and the plane did not have to make an unplanned return to Vancouver.

Regardless of the season, no trip to the Kootenays is complete without a walk along the beautiful Columbia River. It's a great place for a photowalk! A photowalk is just that - a walk with the purpose of taking pictures. Sometimes people who aren't so interested in photography join a photowalk - they are there to socialize with others and enjoy the scenery. This is fantastic, as they often notice (and point out) interesting things you may have missed! Photowalk groups could have as many or as few people as you wish. It could even just be yourself! This time, it was just my parents, Nathanael, and me.

There are any number of places along the Columbia River you could go for your photowalk, but we chose a section which runs through Castlegar. We started at Millennium Park, which not only has scenic paved walking paths, but also outdoor exercise equipment, a playground area, lots of benches, and a sports field. Actually, I think this would be a great location for family portrait sessions as well as landscape and nature photography.

Oh and here is the local soccer team!

Both sides of the paths are lined with trees, some of which have clearly been visited by beavers, but every so often you'll come to a lookout point right over the river. Usually there is a bench, which is helpful as a place to change lenses etc. It's also beneficial for those who aren't there primarily for photography. In my experience, they tend to get quite far ahead of the rest of us, and it's nice to use these spots to catch up.

After a little while, you will have a choice to either follow the paved paths back around, making a loop that returns to your starting point in Millennium Park, or continue on along the river. We followed the river, and the paved paths soon gave way to level dirt trails. They are not challenging, but keep an ear open for bikes as it's very popular here!

Continuing a short distance on these trails, we arrived at a suspension bridge which leads to Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park. Yes, there is a small island right in the Columbia River to explore! 

Walk across the suspension bridge (or the gravel road below, which eventually becomes a trail) and follow the trails up to the top of the small hill. Here you'll find a grass lawn, garden, and the Russian Orthodox Chapel House that Alexander Zuckerberg built and lived in when he eventually moved to Canada from Russia. Zuckerberg was an engineer, an artist, a teacher, and a life-saver. He saved many people from drowning in the Columbia River while he lived there. The house is open in late spring and summer, so depending on when you visit, you can actually go inside before walking off to explore some more trails.

The great thing about photowalks, is that they are flexible. The pace, exact locations, stop times, can all be left up to the group to decide, although that is easier to do with smaller groups. In this case, the entire walk, from Millennium Park to Zuckerberg Island and back again, took a maximum of two hours. And that was because Dad and I kept stopping to take photos. Had we left the cameras at home, we'd likely have shaved off a significant amount of time (although we'd be kicking ourselves).

Where are some of your favourite photowalk locations?

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