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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After watching the weather forecast with bated breath, we knew it was going to start snowing again. So Excited. It also meant the temperature was going to rise a bit, and while -30 degrees was interesting to experience, it is fine if it doesn’t continue for our whole trip.
It started snowing! We had to work for another day, but that was fine, as it meant the snow could start building.
On Wednesday morning, we consulted the internets, and due to the 10cm of snow overnight, and the accumulated snow over the past few days, we decided to go to Kicking Horse again. There were puppies playing in the carpark. They don’t seem to care about the snow.
It was ridiculous and amazing and so soft and foofy. The whole day was great, the powder was great, the field was so much fun with that much snow. Everywhere is so much fun with powder! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!
Cruising down into the bowls, it is all quiet and peaceful, and the only sound you can hear was not the scrape of board over firm snow or ice, but the “WooooOOOOO” and “YEahhhhh” of the people riding around you, everyone was just so excited and happy to have a powder day. Even Canadians get excited about powder! It was the best day we’ve had, and Woooooooooo.
I love the trees in the snow, not only for zooming around them, but they look so pretty! And they have squirrels in them!
Thursday (today) we decided to mix it up and go to Lake Louise, as it was closer, even though they hadn’t had quite as much snow. We had a great day there, we stayed on Larch and Ptarmagin lifts, over the far side of the field, and the whole day was great, lots of zooming through trees, falling around trees, and a few swear words, but mostly it was fantastic and there were freshies galore!
We arrived home to nicely plowed streets, and a large ledge of snow in our driveway, so we had to spend some time clearing it out before we could park. Not so much fun after a couple of full days of boarding, but it was nice to get the driveway clear.
I’ve formed a theory, on why Canadians are so nice and helpful. I think it is cause of the powder, and cause their country is so pretty. They can’t help but be super happy after having a winter of riding powder, it makes everyone so very happy! And everything is just so pretty, even when there is no snow, the mountains and trees and lakes are all So Pretty, that it just makes everyone happy. All the happy.
After dragging myself out of bed on Saturday, I got to go out to Emerald Lake, and take part in an intro to tracking course.
It was with a guy called Nick, from North Star Bushcraft, and he was very knowledgeable, and the course was very fun. l I was very interested in this, as I kept getting excited about all the random tracks I was coming across…We don’t get to see many tracks in NZ, we just don’t have the same population of mammals, and I don’t get to spend much time in areas of snow, where the tracks are all laid out, easy to see.
It was a balmy minus 33, I was equipped with toe and hand warmers, and we traipsed around in the snow with our snowshoes, examining tracks, and growing icicles on our faces, beards and eyelashes. Even the guide’s feet were frozen by the end of it. We would stop and look at some tracks, have a bit of a discussion, do a few measurements, and then walk around a bit before we froze.
Was very interesting, and hopefully has given me a few tools with which to interpret all the rest of the tracks I find in this lovely snow laden wilderness. They’re not just tracks, there is an animal at the end of them, and they were going from somewhere, to somewhere, and the tracks tell a story. Also, most of the things here are cute! Cute little bunnies were hopping over there, cute little martens were bounding across the frozen lake over here!
We worked Tuesday and Wednesday, but I woke in the early hours of Wednesday wanting to barf, and that continued the day, with me feeling lethargic, nauseous and weak. I mostly sat on the couch and watched media, while Dale did the work. Luckily there wasn’t too much to do.
I was feeling much better on Thursday, but still wasn’t 100%, so we took it easy, and went on a driving day trip past Banff.
We stopped in Canmore for lunch, in a lovely bagel bakery. Delishuz. Picked up some cheap previous-day bagels to put in the freezer for later.
We wanted to see if we could easily find the edge of the Rockies, and we definitely did…the mountains just kinda wind down to flat, then you come out from between two mountain ranges, and there is just flat ahead of you. It was a lovely day, so this clear winter blue sky just stretched out ahead of us. There was some forest, but a lot of farmland too, even though it was covered in a layer of snow. Not as much snow as in the rockies though, the piles at the side of the road were little, and you could still see the fenceposts, and there were horses grazing in some of the paddocks. I guess they get less rainfall there?
Once out in the open, the speed limit turned out to be 110km/h, and there were signs saying “Aircraft Patrolled”. Dale was amused, as was I, as he had thought they were signs only in movies, not irl (in real life), so it was interesting to see. We didn’t test out their resolve, however, and we stayed within the speed limit. There were also many signs warning of wildlife on the roads. I guess it is not like NZ, where the biggest thing you might hit is a wallaby. Elk probably make a slightly bigger dent in your car.
There are places along the highway between Field and Banff, that have large bridges across the road, and I couldn’t figure out what they were for for ages, I thought perhaps they had put in overpasses in case they needed them in the future.. but they have trees on them, and are quite wide, and I think they are bridges for the wildlife to cross, so they don’t get squished, and it’s not so stressful for them.
We eventually turned back and headed back to Banff, saving the visit of Calgary for another day. In Banff, we stopped at the Cascade Waterfall, which was frozen solid, in majestic spray over the edge of the rock. There is a walk to the base of the waterfall, but we didn’t bother, as it would have been hard to distinguish between waterfall and snowbanks. We did help dig out an aussie, who had got her car stuck in the snow at the side of the road…I think she didn’t realise she would sink into it when she drove on the edge.. Not much snow in Melbourne to base her experience on!
We headed into Banff, it was a lovely clear day, with epic mountains all around. We drove through town, past the ice rink, and the cute little shops, and the ice wall that had been put up in town, and drove to Surprise corner, where we had a bit of a view from the top of Bow Waterfall. We wandered a bit, nearly slid off small ledges that had sheet ice under the snow, and generally decided it was too cold to do much, as it was about -15. Chilly. Face started freezing.
We drove back around to the other side of the river to view the falls from the bottom, and guess what? Mostly frozen!! It may seem boring to read about all these frozen lakes and waterfalls, but I love it. Water that was flowing, is mostly stopped, or at least diverted. I love seeing all the ice hanging from rocks, waterfalls literally frozen in time. All pretty and deep aqua and blue.
At this particular waterfall, I think a fair amount of water was still flowing under, and one point over the far side it hadn’t totally iced over, and there was a bit of a crack, with mist/water vapour rising from it. I am unsure why it does this, and couldn’t find anything on the internet, perhaps cause I don’t know what the process is called. It can’t be melting, as it was freezing out, and not getting any warmer. I know mist rises above the river on some days, my best guess is that the flowing water reacts to the cooler temp of the air or the ice around it? I know sublimation is when ice changes straight from solid to gas, without being a liquid, so perhaps it is something to do with that? If someone could explain it for me, that would be great!
Anyway, after checking out the frozen waterfall, pretty river, and trying to read the signs in French, we hopped back in the car, headed into town to do our groceries, then zipped off to home. The thermostat in the car hit -22 degrees c, and home was the best place to be.