Somebody Tell the Snow…It’s June
I woke up to a lot of unexpected snow that June in 2017. I had spent the night overlooking the beautiful Bow Lake at Simpson’s Num-Ti-Ja Lodge in Canada. Despite the weather, I had a full agenda of things I wanted to see that day.
“Well, I’m from Chicago, it’s not like I’ve never driven in snow before.” I thought to myself as I packed my things and dragged my suitcase through the ruts of ice.
The sky was low with fog and the mountains looked like huge shadowy ghosts surrounding me as I drove southward. Their grey forms were barely visible in the haze. Snow covered evergreen trees lined the roads and the normally teal-blue Bow Lake looked like a grey and white swirley marble.
I’m Like the Post Office…Rain or Shine…
As I drove, I began to wonder if I should just head to the Kootenay Park Lodge where I would be staying and wait it out.
“Well, I have a full day of plans tomorrow too,” I craned to see out the windshield while the wipers flap-flapped the snow to the sides. “If I wait it out, whatever I miss today, I won’t be able to see at all.”
That thought didn’t sit well with me, so I mapped my way to my first stop on the list.
“Rain or shine, snow or fog…this is happening.”
Stanley Glacier is Over There…Under that Fog Blanket
Stanley Glacier was my first stop. In the parking area,I gathered my umbrella and camera. The guidebook said there was a 2 mile hike to the glacier overlook. I peered out at the fat drops splatting on the windshield, sighed and pushed out the door.
The beginning of the hike was flat gravel.
“Not too bad.” I thought as I came up to a rapidly moving river.
The path soon changed to rocky dirt and gnarled tree roots. My happy flat walk began to take an upward turn. The exposed small rocks became the target for my feet as I climbed to help with the traction. The dirt areas were slippery mud and I took a few awkward, umbrella-flailing slides along the way. The larger rocks in the path were smooth and slick from the rain. I slipped and slid up the switchback path to what I thought to be the viewing area.
The thick fog all but hid the nearby glacier. I stood for a moment and determined the view wouldn’t clear for hours and reluctantly turned back.
I may have been better off sitting down and performing a mud-luge down the slidey hills. Instead I held nearby trees and aimed for the gravel areas to avoid face planting.
Earth Art at the Paint Pots
I dried off a little in the car and headed next towards the nearby Paint Pots. I had checked out paint pots in Yellowstone Park a couple years before and was excited to see more.
The 1.2 mile there-and-back hike started off with a bridge crossing the Vermillion River. A gravel and dirt path led through a wooded area. Some sections of trees were burnt and I could see peeks of orange colored earth to my right.
When I came out of the wooded area, there was a narrow wood plank path which I was grateful for. The orange streaked mud underneath was covered in slimy puddles.
A light rain continued to fall and my breath came out in little puffs in the cool air. Pine and cold freshness filled my nose. There were old tools left from when the early immigrant settlers mined the clay from the area.
Early indigenous Indian tribes had considered this area sacred. They had used the uniquely colored mud in an oil mixture for painting pictures on rocks and for painting tipis, bodies and clothing.
I carefully navigated the muddy areas between the planked sections and soon came to a steep incline.
“Ok body, don’t fail me now.” I huffed my way up the hill, noticing the fallen trees with orange and yellow water flowing over them to my left.
At the top were several green and yellow spring filled pools contrasted by the grass and orange earth. I took a moment to breathe the cool air (a.k.a… catch my breath) while taking in the scene around me. The stark colors in the little clearing were breathtaking.
A Rustle in the Woods
I noticed more planks leading into a wooded area which I began to follow up an incline. It felt good to be surrounded by only trees and quiet…like I was a part of the woods. The planks only brought me a short way. Soon I was ducking into the trees to avoid sliding on the giant mud puddle steps that were the path.
I suddenly heard branches rustling nearby and froze. Flashes of signs and articles I had read prior to traveling about bear sightings in the area and the importance of carrying bear spray raced through my head. I had intended to pick up bear spray but somehow it had slipped my mind. In the event of a face to face bear encounter, there would be no quick way down the mud slide steps.
My heart started doing fast pumping and I felt a little sweaty as I sloooowwwlyy turned my head to scan the area around me.
Two squirrels raced noisily down a tree in the direction of the rustling. I sighed with relief and decided that was enough of being one with the woods for now.
I felt better leaving the wooded section as I held my umbrella and followed the wood plank path over the colored earth and back to the car. I was feeling pretty good about not becoming bear-lunch.
Marble Canyon in the Rain
A short drive from the Paint Pots was Marble Canyon. I parked and started up the paved path. The rain was coming down much harder and there were huge puddles in the walkway.
Almost immediately I was able to get good views of the canyon and the river coursing through the center. A path ran on both sides of the upper canyon and several small bridges linked one side to the other for better viewing of the deep crevice.
Parts of the canyon were so narrow the walls were almost touching and chunks of rock and ice were lodged in between. Other parts were wider and multi-tiered waterfalls worked their way through. Near the top was a large wide waterfall. The fog settled over the tops of nearby peaks and evergreens covered the hills.
Gallons of water forced its way through the limestone and dolomite rock. The sound of the raging water seemed amplified in some deeper areas of the canyon.
The walk was less than a mile and the angles and views offered by the many bridges and vantage points was satisfying.
A Short Break and a New Quest Begins
I was getting a bit chilled having spent the day outside in the rain. I stopped into Arrowhead Brewing Co for a little snack and an IPA.
After that I headed towards Fairmont Hot Springs. Word on the street was that there was a hidden hot spring under a waterfall on a path behind the public hot pool. After a chilly day in the rain, I was looking forward to a nice soak.
Have you ever decided to go ahead with your outdoor adventures, despite bad weather? Comment below…