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All posts for the month February, 2014

We got up, briefly examined some shops, and then headed north.  Once out of Calgary, it was straight roads and flat, flat, plains for a couple of hours drive.   Flat As!  The road you could see stretching out in front of you for ages and ages…..  Flat plains, very little in the way of trees or fences, just flat snow covered flatness.

Acme!  Should see the road runner soon

Acme! Should see the road runner soon

Blowing snow

Blowing snow

Cruise control was a great thing here.  As we were driving, the wind was pushing snow across the road in a thin veil, it looked pretty cool, but kinda crazy driving through a horizontal snow curtain.

We saw a few oil wells, just pumping away in the middle of nowhere, in peoples paddocks.  We travelled over the prairie until we came suddenly to a gorge, where the road dropped down to a river valley.   We stopped in a town called Drumheller for lunch.  The town is filled with model dinosaurs, in varying shades of paint. The whole Badlands area is in a valley, carved out of sedimentary rock by rivers.  You can see the layers in the rock on the walls of the canyons, and for the most part, they are striped and vividly coloured.  Reds, browns, black layers of coal.  The area was known for its coal mining, and we checked out a river and a suspension bridge. From the looks of it, people had been driving up and down on the river on their snowmobiles.

No swaying!

No swaying!

River becomes snowmobile trail

River becomes snowmobile trail

So. Cold.

So. Cold.

A bridge, used in the mining days

A bridge, used in the mining days

It was lovely weather in terms of sun and blue skies, but the temperature was a bit chilly, and we were reluctant at times, to get out of the car.  Dale didn’t want to be in any photos, he mostly wanted to stay in the car.  Which is fair enough, in -25 with windchill (I think a windchill warning was issued, in some places, something silly like 10 mins till frostbite in exposed places). It was a: jump out of the car, run to the place, take a quick photo, run back to the car, turn the heater up High).

There are formations called Hoodoos, pillars that have formed, usually topped by harder sandstone, where the earth around it has been eroded away, leaving a flat topped pillar.   The area is also rife with dinosaur bones, and I think they have pulled the most intact dinosaur bones from that area than any other in the world.

A hoodoo

A hoodoo

More

More

Chilly hoodoos

Chilly hoodoos

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Formations

Formations

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We checked out some hoodoos, and then the massive fiberglass t-rex that they have at the info centre.  You can walk up inside it and look out over the town.  We also went to check out horse thief canyon, which is very pretty, and then horseshoe Canyon just before the sun went down, then we drove back to Banff.

Dale is bravely standing on the foot of The Biggest Dinosaur

Dale is bravely standing on the foot of The Biggest Dinosaur

Rawr

Rawr

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oh hai!

oh hai!

Alberta seems to be flat.

Alberta seems to be flat.

Horse Thief Canyon

Horse Thief Canyon

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Sunset over the plains, such delicate pastel colours, so cold and pretty.  It is currently -28 out, but windchill is a ***, I’m sure it makes it more like -40, which is just ridiculous, and just popping outside the car to take a couple of pictures is an ordeal!

We are travelling directly west, the sun set in a fiery golden ball.  The sky behind is turning blue-grey, the snow covered fields stretch out in all directions, flat as far as the eye can see. They seem to glow, reflecting the aqua of the sky above.  IN front,the sky descends from dusky blue through aqua, pale teal, blue-green, a touch of yellow, orange, and then salmon and coral at the horizon.  I love this time of night in Canada, just after the sun has set, the light seems to linger for such a long time, everything looks just a little bit softer.  In Field, with the mountains, the sun would set, and there would be a mix of blue and yellow lights reflected off the sky and surrounding mountains.

Sun going down across the plains

Sun going down across the plains

Wind driven snow

Wind driven snow

More plains

More plains

Squirrel pary

Squirrel pary

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We woke relatively early, consumed many pancakes with nutella, syrup and banana, and proceeded out on foot to the zoo.  The Calgary Zoo was extensively flooded and damaged in the floods last year, but they are rebuilding pretty well. The zoo is located on two sides of the river, connected by a bridge.

Calgary Tower

Calgary Tower

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Olympic Plaza

Olympic Plaza

Curling!

Curling!

No horseplay!

No horseplay!

A bridge

A bridge

Still

Still rebuilding

After a 40minute walk, we arrived at the walking gate, only to find it was closed, and a sign sending us back to the north entrance.   We headed back that way, but ended up walking right around the outside of one of the islands, which was a bit frustrating for me, coz I wanted to be inside looking at the animals, not freezing outside!  However, we got to walk along the river, pretty and mostly frozen, and we saw a whole bunch of canadian geese (who were just standing in the unfrozen bits of the river, like it was balmy), and a very cute, fluffy, black squirrel.

Icy sun ring

Icy sun ring

Geeses

Geeses

Geese in the river

Geese in the river

A SQUIRREL

A SQUIRREL

We finally made it to the entrance, and went inside.  It was freezing outside, with a slight breeze.  A slight breeze I’m sure that brings the temperature down so much!
mThe zoo was pretty quiet, I don’t think it is that much of a Winter destination haha.  The zoo itself I enjoyed, many of the enclosures are well designed and interesting, both for the animals and the people.  The indoor penguin enclosure was awesome, with glass walls and pools that you can see into, with tunnels under the walkway, and when the penguins get out of the pool, they are at your head level, so you’re kinda looking up at them.  You can lean on the glass wall, and while doing so, a penguin decided it would be a good idea to peck my hands.   We’re not allowed to touch the penguins, but they are allowed to touch us!

Serious face penguin

Serious face penguin

Being one with the penguins

Being one with the penguins

After the penguins it was to the Canadian Wilds area, where we saw mountain goats and sheep, caribou, bison, elk.

A hairy goat

A hairy goat

Bisons

Bisons

An aviary housed some very fluffy owls, who all blinked sleepily at us (apart from one, who had intent yellow eyes, and he stared at us, no matter where we moved.  There was one who was snuggled under a heat lamp, so cute!

Sleepy owl

Sleepy owl

He kept staring at me with his yellow eyes.  Even when I moved, his eyes followed me

He kept staring at me with his yellow eyes. Even when I moved, his eyes followed me

Then across the bridge, where we found zebra, which were interestingly camouflaged with the snow and rocks; a pair of the coldest looking lions I have seen – two males, with decent manes, one was stretched on a rock, but the other was curled into a ball like a little housecat!

Aw nuuuu

Aw nuuuu

Curled up lion

Curled up lion

Silly sign!

Silly sign!

Stripey zebra bums

Stripey zebra bums

There was a very cool indoor African area, where they house the hippos, with a viewing pool, so you can watch them while they swim… on land they are massive, fat, and droopy.  In the water, they are like large ballerinas, and it is very cool watching them.  Also in the Africa area were giraffe, porcupines, and meerkats.  I was (being mean) very amused by the fact that the meerkats were all quite terrified of my fox hat…I would stick my head over the viewing wall, and peer down at them – if I didn’t have my hat on they would peer up at me, and then go about their business, but if I had my hat on, they would peer up, look startled, and then if I moved, they would sound an alert, and then all run off and hide in a log or ball or den.

Porcupines

Porcupines

HhhhHippo

HhhhHippo

 

I had two favourite parts of the zoo – the first was their snow leopard exhibit, which we walked past and couldn’t find anything in, so we went along to the tiger exhibit, which was my other favourite part.  The tiger exhibit was quite large, and had a lovely stream/pool in the middle (though frozen over at this time of year).  it was full of bare trees and snow, but looked neat, and there were two tigers prowling in it.  They looked much happier in the snow than the lions did, and their stripes and orange was very striking against the while.  They both looked alert and curious and prowled around the cage a bit.  They were so cute!  One was cleaning his face with his paw, just like a house cat.

Lion likes the snow

Lion likes the snow

On the way back, we went past the snow leopard cage again, and there were two snow leopards!  We were super excited.  They are very pretty, they look so fluffy and soft, and their tails are amazing.  So thick and long (I think they are up to 1 meter long, just the tail).   They prowled around, and glared a bit.

Watching the keeper walking by

Watching the keeper walking by

The "Where is my Dinner" look

The “Where is my Dinner” look

Lastly we visited the elephants, who spent a while finding their food, in puzzle balls and holes in the walls.  Their trunks are so dexterous!

BEAR PRINTS (Actual bear was sleeping)

BEAR PRINTS (Actual bear was sleeping)

Relaxing wrestling

Relaxing wrestling

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Chillin out

Chillin out

So much hair!

So much hair!

Dinosaurs!

Dinosaurs!

We left the zoo, and caught the train into town (too cold and far to wander any more, and still sore from skiing), and went to the center mall, which has an indoor garden on the 4th floor.   It is quite lovely, to sit amongst the trees and warm, while it is freezing outsdie.   There were koi, and a few water features.   The gardens were all so perfect, I thought at first they were fake.  But they are real; I guess they grow pretty equally, with similar light, humidity, no breeze or animals or erosion to make things look different.

Koi!  Don't touch

Koi! Don’t touch

Garden, on the 4th floor of a mall

Garden, on the 4th floor of a mall

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Wednesday we woke up pretty sore, but rolled out of bed, and proceeded to pack and fully clean the house.  It was still freezing out, but by lunchtime and packing the car it was pretty warm in the sunshine.

We said goodbye to everyone, took a last walk to the hostel, a last hug of Yogi, and headed out of town via dropping off the recycling and rubbish (on the way to Revelstoke, we had our rubbish in the car to drop at the bin on the way, so it wouldn’t be sitting in the house for 3 days, but it was early in the morning, and we forgot, and ended up taking it to Revelstoke, not ideal!).   A last view of the elk by the railroad tracks, then our final wait for the train to finish crossing the tracks.

A very sunny last day!

A very sunny last day!

Of course, a train, and elk to see us off.

Of course, a train, and elk to see us off.

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It wouldn’t have been the same, leaving Field without having to wait for the train…the trains are kilometers long, and travel slowly through Field, usually stopping for a bit – I think it is a place where they switch shifts/drivers etc, and if you need to cross the road, you just have to wait till the train has passed.  It usually takes 10-15 minutes for the whole train to pass, and so many times in or out of the town, we have encounterd the train.  They also toot a lot if the elk won’t move off the tracks.

Anyway, after the train had finally left, we zoomed our way out of Field, and headed down to Banff.   The day was amazing, clear blue skies, and not even the thought of a cloud.

Mt Rundle, Banff

Mt Rundle, Banff

Mt Rundle, Banff

Mt Rundle, Banff

We drove to Banff, where we stopped at the hot pools, and soaked until we were thoroughly warm, then drove on to Canmore, where we had delishuz curry for dinner (we haven’t had curry in many weeks, gasp!).

A snow baer!

A snow baer!

Hot pools

Hot pools

Cascade Mountain, Banff

Cascade Mountain, Banff

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Then on to Calgary in the Very Dark, on the 110km max roads.  The road was pretty straight from when it left the Rockies until it arrived in Calgary, and it was quite pretty to come up over the last rise and see the lights all spread out on the plains.   It was a little scary to drive in a big city at night!   Especially as the biggest towns we’ve seen in the last 6 weeks have less than 8000 people.

We made it to our backpackers – we are staying at Wicked Hostel, and it’s pretty good for a hostel.  The only bad thing really is the noise, otherwise, they supply breakfast (pancakes!), towels, comfortable beds, free internet, nice showers, and good shower mats.  Important things, these.

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We have two irish room-mates, arrived from Ireland 2 days ago, who seem lovely, but one has the most broad accent, and it is fun talking to him, but I think I need a translator…

 

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Tuesday we were up nice and early for cross country skiing, fully bundled up in all the clothes, and we were on the trail by 8.10am.   It was freezing.  Absolutely literally.  About -22 degrees.  We got our gear on and got moving as quick as possible; if you sat around for any length of time, all your bits started  to freeze.   The first few kms were pretty easy, getting used to up and downhill, and trying to make the skis slide nicely.  It took 3kms for my hands to unfreeze, and another before I could feel my toes – it was a good incentive to keep right on moving.

A cool start

A cool start

Start of the icicle growth

Start of the icicle growth

Just a fraction of what we can do with icicles

Just a fraction of what we can do with icicles

Bunny prints

Bunny prints

We stopped after a couple of hours, at 6km, for a hastily munched snack of solid muesli bars (sorry, granola bars) and chocolate.  They were not quite frozen solid, but pretty close.  Had to be careful to blow the water out of the drinking tubes so they wouldn’t freeze.  With mine, the plastic had frozen, but was able to drink easily.  We only stopped for about 5 mins, but our fingers started freezing again, so we had to keep going.  We both had grown ice forests, with icicles hanging from the sides of the hats.  I didn’t get any pictures of the ice farms at their peak, though, unfortunately.   They dripped everywhere during lunch.

A knob

A knob

Delicate colours

Delicate colours

Another couple of hours got us to the campground, where tent sites were a metre deep squares dug out of the snow.

A Canadian tent site

A Canadian tent site

Don't leave your food our for the bears

Don’t leave your food our for the bears

My, what a big roof you have

My, what a big roof you have

An extra snow roof

An extra snow roof

Furthur on took us past the lodge (I’m not sure if it operates during winter, but it is super expensive to stay there.  An incredible location, but I think it was something like $300 a night). Must be fantastic in summer, they have a whole pile of cute little log houses on the edge of the lake.  They were all closed up for winter, but we found one in the sun to perch on the deck and eat lunch, as the snow was too deep to do it anywhere else.  It was another ridiculously pretty place to eat lunch, with the white covered lake in front of us, and the high peaks all around.

Perfectly sunny weather

Perfectly sunny weather

A lovely lunch view

A lovely lunch view

Cute little cabins on the waterfront

Cute little cabins on the waterfront

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Lunch was interesting.  We had the cooker to  make noodles and soup, which was great..  However, our egg sandwiches had somehow manage to freeze a fair amount.  Especially the egg bit.  Frozen egg is not delishuz, not even a little bit.  Dale tried warming his up on top of the pot, and I stuck mine down the front of my jersey.  It took a couple of hours to thaw enough to eat ><
After lunch we traipsed across the lake (you can’t climb to a frozen solid alpine lake and then not walk across the middle of it!), to the deep blue of the waterfall we could see on the other side.   I’m not sure if it is even a massive waterfall in summer, but in winter it is a great, pretty wall of blue blue ice.

Warming up the sammiches

Warming up the sammiches

Ready to go again!

Ready to go again!

Across the lake

Across the lake

Sharks teeth in the upper left corner, sticky out cube rock in the left lower

Sharks teeth in the upper left corner, sticky out cube rock in the left lower

Time to go up

Time to go up

We took our skis off at the edge of the lake, and climbed up to the falls.  It was lovely, we stopped to take a few photos and videos, and saw a couple of squirrels in the trees around, and a flock of little dark coloured birds who would keep flying to the bit of the waterfall that was still flowing, and hop around in the water.   Weirdos, its cold!  I think they might be called Dippers.

Ice!

Ice!

Frozen

Frozen

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Looking back across the lake

Looking back across the lake

Under the waterfall

Under the waterfall

Dale, doing some go-pro-ing

Dale, doing some go-pro-ing

Ice!

Ice!

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By this time it was about 2.30pm, and we needed to get going, so we could make it out by dark.  Starts getting cold again when the sun goes down.  We swooshed across the lake, then started the interesting part of cross country skiing, that is going downhill!

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HI HENRI, WE MAED YOU A SNOW

HI HENRI, WE MAED YOU A SNOW

Cute cabins

Cute cabins

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Cross country skis are meant for traveling long distances, not for downhill skiing!   They are very thin, and do not have metal edges, the whole thing is plastic.  There are funny bits on the bottom, like fish scales, that help stop them from sliding backwards when going uphill.  When going downhill, you have to stick your foot out and snow plow, and you can’t steer very well because of the no edges.  I fell over a few times on the steep downhills, before I figured out how to slow myself properly with the skis.

Bunny party

Bunny party

Dale didn't do well in powder

Dale didn’t do well in powder

Picnic time?

Picnic time?

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Shadows

Shadows

Heading down was much quicker than going up, most downhills meant you could just cruise, and try not to fall over.  You sound like a train when you’re going fast with your skis stuck in the ski tracks.  Feel a bit like a train too.  Easy to derail!   It was much more fun going downhill, but by halfway back I was ridiculously exhausted.   We stopped for a snack – I had been keeping my food down my top to keep it warm, and the rest of my egg sandwich was finally unfrozen, so I got to finish that.  The last 3 kms were very hard, only because we were so tired.  We finally made it back to the car, going out took us just over 2 hours.

A lovely afternoon trail

A lovely afternoon trail

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Light and shadow over the top of the mountain

Light and shadow over the top of the mountain

Back home to Field, where we went to the local restaurant, Truffle Pigs, for dinner, to celebrate our last night (and we were also too tired to bother cooking).  Food was delishuz.

Our last day in Field, and the only thing I hadn’t done yet that I wanted to, was make it up to Lake Ohara.    It is 13km up to the lake, which is nestled amongst the mountain peaks.  In summer, the only way to get there is via the bus, which only takes a certain amount of people, or walk.  In winter, either snowshoe, walk. or cross country ski up the snow covered road.

We were planning to snowshoe in and do an overnighter, but we ran out of time to do that (and I’m not sure about staying at the hut in winter), so we decided to try cross country skiing, and make our way in like that.

We went up to Emerald Lake, to have a look around, and ask about skis.   Christy had arrived in Social House, she was taking over form us at the hostel.   We took her up to see Natural Bridge and the Emerald Lake.  We ended up being convinced to hire cross country skis, and to try them out on the lake, so we went for a quick ski.

 

At Natural Bridge

At Natural Bridge

Christy's first time on skis!

Christy’s first time on skis!

Setting off

Setting off

Wave your poles

Wave your poles

Slidey

Slidey

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Hills are awkward

Hills are awkward

Down the trail

Down the trail

Nice and sunny

Nice and sunny

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We worked the weekend, Craig and Kim went away, leaving us to look after the hostel.  We worked till Tuesday, then got up early Wednesday morning, and headed up to Revelstoke.  We planned carefully, what with crossing a timezone, and being aware of roads that were closed for avalanche control.  We made it to the mountain by 10am, which is not too bad, only had one delay with avalanche control, though the roads were slow, as they were all firm packed snow.  As we approached Revelstoke, the piles at the sides of the road got quite large.  There is one section of road, through Roger’s Pass, where the road is often covered by tunnels, which are in the paths of avalanches, so that part of the road is protected.  The road past Revelstoke was closed, so there were heaps of trucks lined up before the town, waiting until the road opened.

Snowy roads

Snowy roads

It starts to clear a little

It starts to clear a little

Trucks waiting to get through.  We got to drive past them all

Trucks waiting to get through. We got to drive past them all

I don’t really have much to say about Revelstoke, except that it was amazing.   They had over a meter of new snow in the week before we arrived, and it snowed 5cm every night, and 12cm during one of the days.  We were still finding freshies on the third day.

Excited about powder

Excited about powder

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It cleared for a bit of a view

It cleared for a bit of a view

Revelstoke has quite a decent vertical drop, a truck ton of snow, and lots of snow laden glades.   My very favourite place was the Powder Monkey Glades, where the trees were nicely spaced, but in places the snow was so deep and foofy and lovely.  We spent much of our three day visit in amongst the trees of the numerous glades, swishing and twisting and trying not to hit trees.  I loved it.  Best snow days ever.

Zoon

Zoon

Some of the terrain was a bit steep

Some of the terrain was a bit steep

I loves the trees!

I loves the trees!

Another view

Another view

Swoosh

Swoosh

They had some interesting names:  Iron Gladen, Glades of Gnarnia, Powder Monkey Glades, Glades of Glory.  The other interesting thing is that you don’t really go out of the ski area boundary here.  There is plenty in the boundary to keep you entertained, but going out of it means you get charged a lot if you have to be rescued, and apparently they have had a few people this season being stuck out all night because they were not found.  Cliffs, and cold.

Warning sign

Warning sign

Many of the trail names were neat

Many of the trail names were neat

They had a run called Lemming Line, where you have to walk a few minutes up over a ridge, but you get to drop down into a bowl, and the snow is ridiculous.   Once in the bowl, you drop down through trees, and then cruise through glades for quite a while before you hit the bottom of the lift.  The good thing about the bowl (or bad) is that you have to go in a roundabout way to gt back up to the top of it… you have to drop down to the bottom of one lift, catch that up, then traverse a few kms across and slightly down the mountain to get to the next lift, catch that up, and then traverse back across to the top of the bowl.  So you can’t just ride it over and over and over until all the freshies are gone.  Which is why they weren’t all gone.

The trees at the top of the field were all super snow encrusted, pretty much white all over.  On Wednesday, we were doing a bit of a trek to reach the edge of the field (a run called Hot Sauce), and Dale saw an Ozone windsock.  He thought that was interesting, and I said it was probably because they kite up this way.  Then I turned around, and lo and behold, there was a guy just above us unrolling his kite.
On closer inspection, it wasn’t a power kite, but a glider thing.  We helped him get it up, he had skis on, and the kite was attached to him with a harness, and two steering handles.  The kite only sat a few meters above him.  It took a couple of go’s, but once he had it in the air, he pretty much just took off, and soared above the field and off into the distance.  It was awsum.  Hopefully he landed ok, we didn’t see him again.

Hike to the freshies

Hike to the freshies

A paraglider

A paraglider

Another view

Another view

More hiking

More hiking

Helping get set up

Helping get set up

And he is off!!

And he is off!!

Zoomzoom

Zoomzoom

Thursday was the best day, with so much snow, and zooming through trees; very exciting, as you had to commit to your turns, you had to turn this way then that way, and error usually ended up with you against a tree.  The amount of snow made the really steep slopes relatively easy to navigate, and a few times we stopped at the bottom of a slope, to look back at the almost-cliff that we had just dropped down.

Where did my snowboard go?

Where did my snowboard go?

I loves the trees

I loves the trees,and the fluffy snow

Branches

Branches

loves trees

loves trees

These tiny cheeses are individually wrapped in wax, they are so cute!

These tiny cheeses are individually wrapped in wax, they are so cute!

Friday we were ridiculously tired, but as we already had lift passes we felt the need to go all day, and I think this was our longest day, as we also had to drive 3hours back to Field.  Ridiculously tired and sore, after 3 full days of boarding.  But it was fantastic.

We stayed in a new little Hostel called The Cube, which (was in the shape of a cube!) was right in the middle of town, near to food, supermarkets, and board waxing shops.  It is quite a good hostel, the rooms are pretty private, the beds are very comfortable, and you get your own heater and tv.   The only downsides was the soundproofing, and the door rattled a bit when others were closed.  But it was a good place to crash out.

There is also an aquatic center in Revelstoke, and we got a pass from the backpackers to go.  It was interesting, swimming around in comfortable temperatures, while you could see the snow softly falling outside.  The aquatic center also had a hot tub, and 2 types of sauna, all of which we tried out.

View on final day

View on final day

River in the distance

River in the distance

Heading home

Heading home

A few videos from the last few weeks that I’ve posted to Facebook but ought to post here as well!

 

Throwing hot water into the air in -30 degrees C. We’d seen this on the internet before and decided to try it for ourselves. Pretty!

 

A compilation for Neke and Garth from our day snowshoeing halfway up Yoho Pass by Emerald Lake.

 

After 3 weeks with very little snow, the storm arrived and started snowing. It’s now been snowing most days for the last week and expecting to continue for a few more days. This leads to beautiful fresh untouched powdery snow on the skifield, which we love.