K2inCanada's Blog

January 19, 2013

Day 7: From the Town of Hot Springs to Canmore AB – Nipika (Dec 28)

Filed under: BC Ski Trip 2012, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 9:03 AM

Leftovers for breakfast before we finally headed into the Rockies, Kootenay National Park. The drive up to the Hot Spring really only took 5 min and was just as scenic and it stayed scenic all the way through the narrow canyon up over Kootenay Pass into beautiful Kootenay River Valley. Nipika Mountain Resort is not mentioned on any of the tourist maps. Neither is the turnoff to the resort marked on the Hwy – no commercial advertisement in Canada’s National Parks I guess. Luckily there was only one groomed road in the area we thought we had to get off the hwy and we took it – Settlers FSR. We drove deeper into the Valley for about 10km on a snow covered but good road. Then finally were a few signs :-). We were the first car in the lot at the day use lodge, an old barn – at around 11AM. It was sunny and COLD, -10ish. We met the host Lyle inside and got some tips on the trails to take. They have 2 sets of trails, one going North which is the bigger trail system and the more hilly one and one going South which is more open and flat. In total over 50km of trails and all that for $10 per person! I was a bit intimidated by an expert skier saying there would be some nice climbing on the North trails but apparently the canyon trail was supposed to be super nice. So I figured what the heck, I can always walk up the hills with my classics, Peltonen. So Jeff and I headed out onto the North Trail system first. Lyle had a great system set up with numbered intersections that could be easily identified on the maps. What the map didn’t say is if the trail is flat or not. So the first one I picked went from the lodge all the way DOWN to the river – a pretty steep decent of at least 200m loosing at least 50m of elevation. It was so worth it though to get some views of the river close up. And the climb back up wasn’t too bad either. Great views of the mountains made the climbing much less painful and I worked my way up into the canyon. Had to herringbone up some of the hills. There was this one little loop that was called “waterfall loop” and even though it looked like a steep decent, the alternative route was going down too, So I went down to check out the waterfall – except the loop didn’t get anywhere close to the waterfall. I could hear it but not see a darn thing through the thick forest. All this was good for was another steep climb up. And it turned out the trail I thought was the alternate one was really only the loop coming back up. There was another hidden track to the right going further up :-). I worked my way up to the Natural Bridge to cross the narrow canyon and down from there to the warming hut. I skipped the last little loop one could do up there and descended down steeply to the “Canyon Bridge” to get back across the creek. Awesome vistas all along. Only bad part I had to climb up from the creek again. Lots of ups and downs so far but all fun. For the way back to the lodge I picked some different routes and they were mostly gentle downhill runs – lots of double poling. So by the time I got to the barn I was rested up enough to take on the South Trail system as well. Had only done 14 or so km so far in about 2hrs. The south system was for the most part fairly flat and open, offering some different views. Except for the back end – new trail – that went up and down like crazy. The uphills were short but steep and the downhills were fast with 90 degree corners near the bottom. Definitely not easy skiing and I was getting tired – no more grip with my grip tape. Nevertheless, I did the whole outer perimeter of the south trails even though there was an alternative route which didn’t involve one last steep climb. Jeff admitted later that he had skipped that last hill :-).  All in all about 21km and 3hrs10min on skis. A wonderful place to ski or snowshoe in the winter!! Al they needed would have been a bit more snow to make it the perfect place. In some places sticks and roots were still showing but it was all ski-able. Seems the further away from the coast we get the less there is snow, hmmm!?

The night before we had talked about driving into Canmore instead of spending 2 days in the Golden area. So instead of going back to Radium and then Golden, we continue on through the Rockies to spent a night in Canmore and ski at the Olympic Nordic Centre the next day. The drive through the snow covered mountains was stunning. The good weather stayed with us and we managed to get to Canmore with a little bit of light left. There seemed to be a lot more traffic going west though – looked like Albertans were going for a long weekend in BC.

Once in Canmore we pulled into the first place off the highway we saw. They only had 2 rooms left. One fancy one with king size bed, fireplace and jacuzzi in the room for $150 incl. tax or a simple room with 2 beds for $90 on the 2nd floor. The guy at the front desk told us to look at both. We went to the cheaper room first but the key didn’t work. So we checked out the expensive room and man was that ever nice!! Really too much luxury for me but hey, we are on vacation! So we ended up taking the “Suite” and even got it for $10 less. First though we had to get some food into us – hadn’t eaten anything since the morning. The guy at the desk recommended a place in walking distance, Patrinos, which had some good food and I had pasta in again, this time in brandy cream sauce – yummy! After dinner we quickly stopped in at Safeway to stock up on groceries before soaking in our jacuzzi for about 45min watching Ice Age. I love those movies!

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