Remote Kootenay wilderness about to become ‘virtually’ trekkable

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and Google have partnered in a unique project to put B.C. wilderness online


It’s not quite “going where no man has gone before”, but it’s close.

Adrian Leslie of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has just finished slogging through a remote corner of the Kootenays known as Darkwoods, the largest land conservancy project in Canada.

The trek up and down the south Selkirk Mountains was challenging enough, but Leslie had to do it with a 23-kilogram Google camera strapped to his back.

“[It’s] about a 50-pound backpack and you have to keep it kind of steady,” Leslie told CBC News. “My legs are a little sore today.”

Leslie’s pain will be the public’s gain.

The 15-lens panoramic camera captured an image every 2.5 seconds, and by the end of the summer a virtual tour of Darkwoods will be available on line.

“Google will stitch these images together and put it up on Google maps where anybody can go and virtually walk that ridge line,” said NCC spokeswoman Lesley Neilson.

The NCC hopes to map 14 of its natural areas with the Google Trekker camera by the end of the year.

Leslie says the Darkwood project will help people experience the kind of wilderness that was previously only accessible by helicopter.

“Just to allow people to experience nature in places they can’t normally get to,” he said. “It’s a way to connect Canadians to nature. That’s part of what nature Conservancy does.”

Originally posted at CBC News British Columbia.