Where is Joel Now?

They say that “the Mountains shall bring Peace to the people” and having spent much of my life in the shadow of the impressive Rocky Mountain range in southeastern British Columbia, I have to agree that time in the mountains increases my feelings of peace.

I have spent much of the last four years outside of this little corner of the world with a year travelling the world followed by two years living in the UK. I’ve only been at home a few months in total here at home in the Rocky Mountain Trench. When I am here, I am reminded of all the reasons that I love being here.

It’s a place that offers many different activities depending on the season. In the summer, there are long days that extend well into the evenings, hiking and mountain biking on winding mountain trails with stops, of course, to swim in a crisp, clean lakes. In the winter, there is skiing, skating and the much-needed visit to the local hot springs. My partner recently visited from the UK and we did just that, a mini tour of the Rockies visiting as many hot springs as we could.

We started in what must be one of the most picturesque and photographed towns in Canada, Banff. Banff is a magical place where you can look in any direction and hold your breath at the sheer magnitude of Canada’s mountain splendor. We spent a chilly evening earlier at the Banff Hot Springs, it was certainly the place to be as there was hardly a space to sit while the hot steam rose to the stars. We cruised through the stunning backdrop of Lake Louise before continuing on to the East Kootenay’s, along what is advertised as British Columbia’s Hot Springs route.

Radium Hot Springs, tucked on the edge of Kootenay National Park, is a beautiful place to stop and soak in the mountain life while touring through the national park. The hot pools hug a sheer cliff of natural rock walls, which regularly feature Mountain Sheep perched high above the valley.

Further along Highway 93 is the small town of Fairmont and the adjacent Fairmont Hot Springs. My favourite parts of this hot springs resort aren’t really the official pools at all. A short walk from the parking lot will take you to the original hot springs building, a stone house with three small rooms complete with soaking tubs filled with hot natural spring water. Further up the hill is a small foot soaking pool with an amazing view, overlooking the Columbia River valley. If you take a short detour behind the modern hot springs pool, you will find the hot springs overflow, where a cascading waterfall of hot water falls into small pools below. Not a bad place to relax for free!

The local favourite though has to be the somewhat secret Lussier Hot Springs. An all-natural experience tucked far up a forestry road, to me it’s the most authentically Canadian hot springs experience. It’s a bit of a shock to the body to change into your swim shorts in the extreme Canadian cold but as soon as you sink into the big rock pools hugging the river you forget how cold it is outside. A series of pools are built up on the rocky hillside and vary in temperature, the best way to experience the springs is to visit each one as you work yourself closer to the river and then back up to the hottest pool.

Growing up in the mountains we often take for granted how lucky we are to wake up with the impressive Rockies as our backdrop. Now that I have spent so much time away, I get excited each time I see the sun breaking behind the mountains or when I get to breathe in that crisp alpine air.

Further along on our Hot Springs adventure lies Ainsworth Hot Springs. We enjoyed a leisurely ride on the World’s Longest Free Ferry across Kootenay Lake before arriving at the small resort. The best part of these hot springs are the caves filled with hot mineral water. A horseshoe shaped cave with small lights on the walls leads you along the steamy soak, small little caverns dot the cave system with small stalactites reaching down from the ceiling. The outer pool looks out over an impressive view of Kootenay Lake and the cool air makes it easy to stay enveloped in the hot natural waters. Nearby Nelson provides almost endless restaurants and pubs and a 30 minute ferry ride back to the east side of the lake provides beautiful views of the snow topped mountains.

Spending these last few weeks venturing out to all of these natural wonders really makes me feel quite proud of being from this little part of the world. Meeting other visitors who traveled from other provinces and countries just to visit the pools of hot water makes me feel rather lucky to have grown up with them in my backyard. These mountains, they bring peace to the people and certainly to me.


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