Today we were moving on from Golden and heading towards Lake Louise. However, we decided to drive the longer way which would take us through the Kootenay National Park and past the Radium Hot Springs. We thought we may as well see as much of the Canadian Rockies as we could and this was a good way to do that. Plus we wanted to try out the hot springs.
The weather was once again socked in with fog, just like the previous mornings, but it would clear into a lovely day. It was cold outside which was a little different to the previous days, so we didn’t stay outside for long. We had packed out bags the previous night so loading the car was pretty easy. I noticed that Pierre, our host, was indeed up before us and we could have fixed up the account that morning, but it was much easier to do that yesterday so we could get on the road when we wanted.
As we reached the strip of Golden we stopped and filled the car up. While I was doing that, Kim went and got herself a coffee from a place called Tim Hortons (I don’t drink coffee). She came back with her coffee and two Coffee Crisp chocolate bars. This was the first of several Timmy’s coffees she would have. She absolutely loved the coffee and was nuts about the coffee crisp chocolates. The second coffee crisp was meant for me, but to this day I have never tasted one of those chocolate bars.
We set out from the Great Canadian Chalets and headed south through Golden towards the Radium Hot Springs. As we drove along past Golden we saw something lying on the road. It was an unfortunate animal that had been run over during the night. This was actually the first road kill we had seen in Canada. There seems to be a very good system for removing any road kill as soon as possible so as not to leave the roads looking disgusting with heaps of dead animals. As we approached the animal we were trying to figure out what it was, as we drove over it we knew exactly what it was. It was a skunk! We had been told by George, our Grand Canyon guide, that if we were to get sprayed by a skunk that we would have to be left behind as the smell is too intense to be enclosed on a bus with other travellers. As we drove over the dead skunk the smell was sucked up into the cars heating system and into the cabin. We had to wind down the windows to remove the smell as we drove. It was 2 degrees outside but we would rather freeze than put up with the smell from a skunk.
Once we drove through the town of Radium and turned towards the hot springs we were in the Kootenay National Park. From that point we would be in National parks for four days straight. It took us over an hour and a half to get to the Radium Hot Springs from our accommodation in Golden. As I said it was 2 degrees outside (that’s what the car thermometer was telling us) and it didn’t rise for some time. We got to the Radium Hot Springs and got out of the car and were instantly met with the cold air. We went inside and paid our admission and were told that we needed to use a Canadian dollar (a loonie) to get a locker. We went to get changed so we could partake in the warmth of the springs. The lockers took one loonie coin. We didn’t have any change so the front desk changed some money for us. I really needed to go to the toilet when I got there so, as I would back home, I put my gear in the locker and took care of business. Unfortunately the lockers were a 1 coin per use type thing so I had used my one coin and didn’t get to the pool. I had to go back up stairs looking like an idiot and ask for another coin which they gave me at no charge. I think the girl took pity on me. Anyway by the time I got out to the pool Kim was getting worried that I had gone to the wrong pool or something.
Going from the interior to the exterior was a shock and it was even worse when you take the towel off your shoulders and dash for the pool, but the pool is so warm that you forget about the cold very quickly. I found that my shoulders were a little cold if I had them above the water, Kim didn’t find that a problem however. We swam around a bit and then we just relaxed in the pool looking around at the mountainside as the day became better and better. We found a couple of spots where the thermal water was coming into the pool and it was HOT! You couldn’t stand in front of it for long as it was scolding. There weren’t many people there when we arrived; we had beaten the rush as usual. I say that because when we were leaving there were a heap of oldies turning up and getting into the water.
We got ourselves dried and changed ready to leave the Hot Springs. As we were in the change rooms we could hear the radio playing over the p.a. system and it happened to be playing “Baby Got Back”. That song is one of Kim’s absolute favourites. She does quite a rendition of it!
We thought about getting a photo of the pool before we left but I felt a bit uneasy about doing that, so as a compromise Kim took a photo from the highway as we drove off. It wasn’t a great shoot, but we both felt better about taking the photo that way rather than like a peeping tom over the balcony. Shortly after leaving Radium we drove through the first of a few tunnels on this stretch of road.