K2inCanada's Blog

January 19, 2013

Day 6: From the Town with the best Pizza to Radium Hot Springs – Greywolf, Panorama Mountain (Dec 27)

Filed under: Animals, BC Ski Trip 2012, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 9:01 AM

By now we were tired of buns for breakfast and stopped in at “The Bistro” in Invermere for a good old eggs, sausage and potatoes breakfast – was really good – before driving up to Panorama Mountain Resort to ski the trails of the Toby Creek Nordic Club at Greywolf. It was still cold and overcast in Invermere. Driving up into the mountains it got colder but also sunnier. Lowest temperature we saw while driving was -16.5C, brrr. Jeff had looked up the trails the night before and it didn’t look overly exiting. And there was much less snow around Invermere than Cranbrook. But we wanted to stick to the plan to ski in a different area every day. And I am glad we did. Panorama Ridge is 18km west of Invermere high up in the mountains and had enough snow to ski on. And even though they only had one long trail, that trail was well groomed and tracked and offered wonderful views over the mountains towards the North. The trail dropped down steeply towards the Creek – Toby Creek – and then is a more or less a steady climb up to the end some 8+km from the trail start. The trail was marked as a blue trail and I think that was about right. Apparently Jeff tried one of their green trails to warm up – Grey Wolf”- but he said that was the scariest trail he had been on in some time. Single track, narrow, icy and fast downhill. Good thing I wanted to do the “hard” one fist and stuck to the blue trail up the Valley. It did start snowing for a while the further down the Valley I got..Jeff must have passed me while I did a small loop that dropped me way down into the valley only to have to climb it all back up. Oh well – what do you expect from a trail called “No Name Loop”. Originally we didn’t think we could get to the very end of the trail since the website said it was not groomed yet. Lucky for us, it had been groomed not too long ago and only hand a couple cm of fresh snow in the tracks – good thing Jeff was ahead of me to clean the tracks up nicely :-). The views up the valley weren’t as spectacular as they could have been due to the clouds hanging low of the mountains and it was only grey in grey ahead of us. But on the way back we got to enjoy the blue sky and mountain views again. Met Jeff half way back and together we climbed up to the warming hut “Hale Hut” only to have to go down this steep downhill section. But the trails were wide and good to ski on up or down. The way back was mostly downhill and took us no time – except the last climb back up to the start of the trails. It was still well below -10C, sun or no sun. Another 18km day in 2hrs35min.

We could have stayed one more night in Invermere since tomorrow’s skiing destination- Nipika – isn’t that much further north but decided to stay in Radium Hot Springs instead and to actually make use of the Geothermal Bathtub in the Rockies just outside of town. First we picked a place in town to stay – Crystal Springs Motel. Nice big room again with a kitchen (bit pricier at $89 + tax). We asked the woman that booked us in if one could walk to the Hot Springs from town but she said no way, that would take at least 40min :-). Guess what, we walked but not without stopping in for some late lunch at the “Eatery”. Upon leaving the restaurant we saw 5 deer across the road. The walk up to the hot springs was actually quite nice in the fading light. Even though it goes along the Hwy to Banff and there was quite a bit of traffic coming down the mountains but the side walk was nicely cleared and the views were stunning to say the least. We entered Kootenay National Park without having to pay :-). The hot springs are quite developed and right along the highway. Obviously we weren’t the only ones there (apparently there are some nice natural hot springs a bit further south near Whiteswan Lake – no secret mind you just we didn’t know). It was nice though to soak in the warm water – wasn’t too hot – under starry skies and snow-laden trees. Must have spent about 45min soaking in the water – I had been cold all day ever since we started skiing at -15C this morning. Finally the red skin on my legs turned a normal colour again. We finally left the hot pools when Jeff grew tired of ice forming on his head.

The walk back down was in the dark but just when we left the pool area the full moon climbed above the mountains and remaining clouds. It was a nice walk down as well and enough to build up the appetite for a real dinner. Only had a bowl of soup earlier. We skipped the German restaurant and went to the “Horsethief Canyon Pub” which had phenomenal food, pasta with lots of veggies and chicken and prawns in a curry cream sauce, which we washed down with the Nelson’s After Dark ale. We took a small detour back to the motel. Spent all evening writing on my blog.

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