Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hot Springs Heaven

The problem with a blog is that it's far too easy to just say "eh... I'll write in it tomorrow." Especially since I've been having a severe drought of any real discoveries or obsessions lately. I've been working my ass of, both in literal work, and I've finally started going to the gym several times a week. So, yay!

Calgary has been absolutely miserable for the last few days. It's raining constantly, the heater was on when I woke up this morning, and it's been hovering over zero for the last few days. In August. This is unacceptable.

So I've been dreaming of hot springs. Growing up in the east, as I did, most of my encounters with western Canada came in the form of hot springs. Radium Hot Springs in Banff, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Nakusp Hot Springs, I have spent a lot of my childhood in hot springs. So I always assumed that hot springs were just a given in western Canada, possibly because of that Rudyard Kipling quote about Alberta having all hell for a basement (sadly, I was in university before I figured out that he meant oil and not hot springs). And since then, whenever I have been out west, I've made a point of hot springing it. Except now that I live here, it would be a little weird to live my life in a hot spring.

My point simply is that it's been completely miserable, and I want to go hot springing.

However, I have grown out of being content to swim around in a sterile, cement-bottomed pool. If I wanted that, I could go sit in the hot tub at the YMCA and watch small children throw inner tubes at each other. In the last 5 years of my life I've become obsessed with finding the perfect natural hot spring.

It started with Ainsworth Hot Springs. Admittedly, it's half sterile, soulless pool, but the cave makes it all worth it. It's like taking a steam bath in the Mezazoic period. This is the type of place I would recommend if you're a bit squeamish about camping and you don't care for bugs, or if you want to get a massage after the pool. This is a great romantic getaway sort of hot springs. It's got everything you could want, except a lack of other humans.

My current favourite is Hot Springs Cove. It's difficult to get to, and it's not exactly surrounded by 5 star hotels, but that's its charm. This is the type of place that, if you plan your arrival carefully, you can pretend that you're the only person on earth. In university, we used to have long drunken conversations about what we'd like to be doing when the world ended, and I'd still like to be floating in one of these pools, completely content in my choice of locale for the apocalypse. Yes, I'm weird. But it's a great hot spring.

While I'm still out on the west coast, I'll mention Hotsprings Island. I've only been here on a package tour, but it's become my new holy grail, the type of place where I just want to retreat to for a few weeks and just chill out. It seems like an excellent place to actually get in touch with your thoughts.

If you plan your trip just after the snow melts, or just before it falls, or you have a particularly good set of winter tires and a head full of batshirt craziness, you can try the Liard Hot Springs. I would recommend that you either bring a battery-operated boombox or a tamborine or something to make noise, since I've bene up that highway a few times, and it's not uncommon to see bears grazing at the side of the road (and even less uncommon to see stupid, stupid people getting out of their cars to take photographs of them). This place is amazing, though. If, for some reason, you are driving to Alaska, you have to stop and see it. In October, it is truly a wonder of the world.

I've also found this list which has a fairly in depth list of hot springs in the Kootenays. Other than St. Leon, I've never been to any of them, but I guess that's given me an idea for a road trip this year. Awesome.


Anonymous Vergil said...

It can't work as a matter of fact, that's exactly what I consider.
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4:02 AM  

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