Local writer Ross Klatte has always loved the Selkirk Loop, so when two American photographers approached him to write accompanying text for a photography book they were working on, he jumped at the chance.
“My part was to write about 20,000 words. I started doing research and I had a lot of books in my own library, plus I spent a lot of time online,” said Klatte, who worked as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune before moving to a Kootenay homestead in 1971.
Featuring over 300 images by photographers Jerry Pavia and Tim Cady, the resulting book Selkirks Spectacular contains chapters written on the history, geology, communities, natural features, flora and fauna of the area.
He said the book may teach Kootenay residents surprising things about their surroundings.
“People who have lived here long-term tend to know a lot about the area, but on the other hand there’s lots of people who don’t know the history, or maybe don’t know the flora and fauna,” he said.
The book will give them the chance to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. He’s especially interested in the Selkirk Mountains.
“Those are very, very, very old mountains. Millions of years older than the Rockies. And way back when these mountains stood as an island.”
He said the Selkirk Mountains are much more welcoming than the Rockies.
“The Rockies are kind of cold and craggy, but these ones are sort of soft and warm and welcoming.”
Selkirks Spectacular highlights both sides of the International Selkirk Loop, named by Rand McNally as one of five “Best of the Roads.” This journey in photographs and text takes readers from Lake Pend Oreille to Kootenay Lake and includes wildlife from endangered woodland caribou to ruffed grouse. The book features historic photographs highlighting the area’s native and ethnic cultures, mining and logging legacy, and boomtowns.
Klatte’s memoir Leaving the Farm was published by Oolichan Books in 2007, and he was selected for the Journey Prize anthology in 2011 for his story “First-calf Heifer”, which appeared in the New Orphic Review.’
Klatte said he can’t wait to see the end project on coffee tables. When he saw the final product he was flabbergasted.
“Seeing it, finally, three years after writing the text for it, was like, I imagine, doing a part in a movie, then waiting years for the movie’s release to see what you looked like on the screen,” he said.
“The book is full of beautiful photos. I can’t, in all modesty, comment on the text.”
To celebrate the book’s release, the Nelson Public Library will host a special launch on Thursday, November 27 at 7 p.m., including a slideshow and author talk. Representatives from the publisher, Sandpoint, Idaho’s Keokee Books, will be on hand.