Kimberley’s Steve Tersmette has published his second offering entitled, Waterfall Hikes in Southern British Columbia, a comprehensive guide to discovering waterfalls throughout the East and West Kootenays and beyond.
The book lists 100 waterfalls, 90 in detail with additional falls listed throughout its pages from the Alberta border to the Okanagan corridor.
“I wasn’t really sure how to feel about it,” Tersmette said about having the book done and published after two and a half years in the making.
“Initially I was relieved that it was done, but now I think there’s more excitement fuelled by other people getting their hands on it now. I think that’s what’s most exciting is seeing people’s reaction to this book and seeing their excitement over it.”
Tersmette was born and raised in Calgary and he and his two brothers were often whisked away by their dad to go on hiking and backpacking adventures in the mountains from a very young age.
When he finished post secondary in 2006, he made the decision to leave the city behind and settled on Kimberley as a new home base and it’s been home ever since for him and his wife and their two kids who were both born here.
“We wanted a quieter life and we definitely love the small town and having the mountains as our backyard,” Tersmette said. “And just having really, really uninhibited access to trails and lakes and forestry roads and mountains and hiking and climbing it’s kind of the complete package here.”
In 2017 Tersmette and his friend Shawn Emmett became the first people to traverse the Purcell Mountains on foot in the summer, after trekking from just outside of Kimberley all the way to Rogers Pass.
Last year, Tersmette published East Kootenay Rock, which provides an update to a previous regional climbing guide from 2013 from Cranbrook’s Gord McArthur. East Kootenay Rock highlights rock climbing and some alpine routes throughout the East Kootenay.
Tersmette sought to make Waterfall Hikes first and foremost a family-friendly guide book. Over the course of two summers he would go on outings with his family and scout out and document waterfalls. Tersmette also shot all of the wonderful photos that accompany the words he wrote in his latest book.
As the second summer of research was wrapping up and he knew the manuscript was due the following spring, he started doing more solo quests to hike multiple waterfalls in a day and knocking off some of the locations that had longer hikes or more difficult access.
“Definitely spent many nights up forestry roads, sleeping in my truck waiting for the sun to come up so that I could hike to four, five or six waterfalls in a day on my own,” he recalled.
Tersmette also remembers one particular hike during which he had the closest encounter with a bear he’s ever had in the 35 years he’s spent exploring the mountains, and the first time he was genuinely terrified.
“I ended up on a trail near Castlegar and essentially ended up between a mother grizzly and two cubs,” Tersmette said. “I’ll give my dog a little bit of credit for scaring off the cubs and getting them off the trail and kind of pushing them back towards their mother, but that was a situation that could have got real, real bad really quickly so fortunate that it wasn’t.”
The hikes were, for the most part, short and sweet however, and that’s how Tersmette wanted to keep it. Most of the hikes that are detailed in his book can be done in a two-hour or less roundtrip.
Waterfall Hikes was published by Rocky Mountain Books, who also published the well-known hiking guide Mountain Footsteps by Janice Strong. Whereas Strong’s book has many challenging hikes and is perhaps geared more towards experienced climbers, Tersmette’s work serves as a family-friendly companion piece, showcasing hikes that are great for a wide range of people.
“There’s going to be lots of people that will get something out of that book, whether it’s photographers or even people with mobility issues or even just people who have an afternoon to kill and want to do something short,” he explained. “But I did really try to keep families in mind writing that book, because I know that was one of our struggles as young parents was finding these short hikes to do with little kids.”
Picking one favourite out of all the waterfalls he’s seen and documented is no easy task, but one that stood out in his mind was Margaret Falls near Salmon Arm. Tersmette said he didn’t know much about it previously and hadn’t seen many pictures of it.
It has a newly constructed wooden trail system that crisscross the creek back and forth before going up towards a dark, little canyon.
“You don’t see the waterfall until you get right to the end of the trail and you’re standing on this little catwalk over the creek and turn to the left and there’s this really cool, gorgeous cascade tucked into a rock gully and it was just such a pleasant surprise,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to expect if anything and it’s one of the ones that just has always stood out in that process. So I wouldn’t call it my favourite but it was definitely one of the more memorable ones to come across.”
Waterfall Hikes is available for purchase online, but Tersmette said he’d like to encourage people to buy it locally if possible, from stores such as Purcell Outdoors, Centex Market or the Kimberley Riverside Campground.
He said he is grateful to the local businesses and bookstores for their support and to Don Gormon and his team at Rocky Mountain Publishing for taking a chance on the project and ultimately producing such a beautiful book in the end.