We woke up to sunshine and had our bowls of raisin bran and bananas along the waterfront at the jetty next to the Prestige Hotel - our accommodation for the evening. However this tropical weather didin't last as we drove into the Kootenay Glacier Park which was reccomended by the woman in thr tourise information as it shoud be open in the early season. It was open but about halfway up the windy dirt track we were greeted by solid snow and ice blocking the track. Paul took on the task of reversing the camper back down the track a few hundred meters to a passing place where we could park - just incase someone tried the same as us!
This meant we had to walk almost double the trail length just to get to the start of the trail. The snow and ice was a bit of a pot-luck of footing as the snow wouldn't always hold your weight - perfect when you thought trainers would be fine for a wee trail. My kilimanjaro fitness had completely disappeared as I puffed, panted and sweated my way up the hill. When we reached the top we realised the trailhead was actually where we thought the trail ended. The trail itself had not seen many visitors recently as their were fallen trees and bracken making it more of an obstacle course. At the top of the 'road' there was - what we assume- was a car park but the several feet of snow made it hard to tell and a rather large rock which was our perfect lunch spot. There were views down the mountain valley which made our first hike worth the-well my- efforts - everyone else seemed to be able to run up no bother!
We tried actually following the trail on the way back down but the snow cover made it difficult and most of us scrambled up with soaking feet to the glacial road instead. It took a lot longer to get back to the campervan than I'd remembered - even with the route being a winter slip'n'slide- but we got back on highway 31 to Ainsworth Hot Springs for a well earned soak. however on the way we stopped next to Kootenay Lake and did some lounging - that's all we really do: hike 'n' lounge. It was absolutely stunning here with lakes and mountains - of course the Austrian wasn't as impressed as I was.
The hot springs were mainly an excuse to shower and the hot springs were just an added bonus. The springs themselves were orginally natural but a artificial pool had been built to accommodate more visitors - the opposite to Tofino but the backdrop was just as stunning. There had been an attempt to rectify the original cave springs by building some cave tunnels which allowed the water temperature to soar to 40°C. In contrast there was a plunge pool of 6°C so you could really feel your blood rush when you got in the hot spring. Paul, Ryan and I had a challenge to see who could stay in the longest and thanks to both my Scottish warm blooded ways and Canadian sunburn I managed to win without that much difficulty.
After two hours of soaking, splashing and some very pruney fingers we emerged refreshed and much, much cleaner than before. Our next stop was the town of Kaslo which is known as one of the nicest and friendliest towns in British Columbia. It was also en-route where we had our first moose sighting, though as Ryan put it "it wasn't as romantic as imagined." Kaslo was a nice little town along the lake shore of the Kootenay Lake with Mt. Kaslo looking over the town across the lake. After a short drive around the town we parked up on the lakeshore with the most amazing view across the lake as well as free wifi and reasonably fancy pubic toilets. We sat over pour cooked chili dinner using the perks of free wifi after several days to update the world that we were still alive.After having enough of all this technology we went back to old-school camping by lighting a campfire on the beach and toasting some marshmallows under the stars. A car drove up to us and a man wound the window down to shout "Are you local?!"
"Oh well. See ya!"
In retrospect I have a feeling this might have something to do with the "No Camping" and "Do not light fires" signs remarkably close to our camping spot but in friendly Kaslo style they didn't do anything about it.