Saturday, May 03, 2014

Want Spring? Go WEST to the Columbia Valley

It's been snowing since last night and what I thought would be light snow mixed with rain, has turned into a full-on winter wonderland.  In May.   Needless to say I'm a bit less than thrilled.  I love skiing but the skis have been put away and we want to bike.  And in just over one week, my stand up paddleboard lessons begin for the season.  Outside!!

Ice, Ice, Baby - Spring SUPing
Fortunately, despite the presence of ice on the lake in the above photo, there is a place nearby that is experiencing the season formerly known as SPRING.  We drove three hours west to Radium Hotsprings and the Columbia Valley for Easter and we spent the weekend mountain biking and paddling.  There was no snow, and it was above zero the whole time!  Even now, it's raining in Invermere today but there's none of this white crap.



Isn't this better than snow?

 

Spring Paddling in the Columbia Valley


We could have paddled right on Lake Windermere in the town of Invermere, but we chose to go out to Lillian Lake instead  (map here) so that we could do some paddling, have a fire, and go mountain biking - all in one spot.  The mountain biking adventures can all be found in my previous blog post:  Kids On Wheels - Biking the Columbia Valley

It was still a little chilly and so yes, I actually wore my down skirt on my board

The first thing we noticed when we got to Lillian Lake was the ice on the lake.  The dock was completely surrounded by ice and there was no way to get out to the main part of the lake without breaking through some ice.  We sent the kayak first to break up the worst of it, but I can now say my paddle board has been used as an ice breaker.

Really, you're gonna SUP that??
SUPing through slush and ice - fun spring paddling

Despite the slush and ice, it was a lovely paddle and an amazing way to spend Easter weekend.  Thank God as well for crazy friends that are always game for anything.  Most people would have laughed at me for suggesting we go biking and paddling for Easter - in April!

Learning to paddle
Breaking through the ice

This was the earliest we've ever gotten our boats/my board into the water and it was a good introduction to cool weather paddling.  Now I at least sort of know what to expect when I take SUP lessons here in Calgary this month!

The snow on the mountains added to the experience greatly!
Spring paddling on Lillian Lake
The cutest canoe ever.
Let's hope my next paddle is a tad warmer...

 

Spring Hiking in the Columbia Valley


Biking, paddling - and hiking!  Had to do at least one hike while out in the valley.  And we had the perfect hike in mind.  The Findlay Falls hike is all of a kilometre or so return, has a lovely waterfall at the end of it, and is one of the most family-friendly hikes in the valley.  So, off we set!

Hiking the easy trail to Findlay Falls

Falls still a bit frozen, but a lovely hike none the less

We expected the kids to have fun throwing rocks in the water, which they did, and to have fun climbing on the rocks near the shore.  What we did not expect, is that they would view the whole area as a natural jungle gym.  It was hard to get them to leave.

Hours of enjoyment!
Rocks, logs, and a natural playground - Heaven




Trail directions to Findlay Falls: Drive past Fairmont Hot Springs and continue south on Hwy 95 towards Canal Flats. Turn right onto Findlay Creek Road just before the south end of Columbia Lake. Follow for 4.6km until you find the Findlay Falls Day Use Area. (road shows up on Google Maps)


Other Spring Fun in the Columbia Valley


Given the names of some of the towns in this valley - Radium Hotsprings, Fairmont Hotsprings, it's a given that we spent some time at the local hotspring pools.  Usually we go to the pool in Radium since that's where we most often stay, but this time we drove to Fairmont Hotsprings and enjoyed a long soak/splash before doing the Findlay Falls hike.

The Fairmont Hotsprings swimming pool

The kids had a blast swimming in the big warm pool, and I enjoyed soaking in the hot pool conveniently located right beside the swimming pool.

Fun outdoor swimming in spring!

For more ideas of what to do in Fairmont Hotsprings if you want to plan a weekend there, check out the story I wrote a couple of years ago, Ode to Spring.  It has a lot of photos from our last trip out to Fairmont.

Hiking on the Findlay Falls Trail near Fairmont Hotsprings

Also, as mentioned before, we did a lot of mountain biking on our trip, and my previous story covers all of the trails we like out that way.  It is here at:  Kids on Wheels - Biking the Columbia Valley.

Biking the Junior Johnson Trail at Lillian Lake
The Junior Johnson Trail, Lillian Lake

 

Going to the Columbia Valley this Summer?


Check out this story for more on the valley, things to do, and to see photos from our camping trip last fallExploring the Columbia Valley Wetlands - By Boat, Bike, and Hike

The photos below are all taken from the story above.

Paddling the Columbia River from Invermere to Radium
Biking the Old Coach Trail near Radium Hotsprings
Mt. Swansea Hike near Invermere

Have a favourite thing to do in the Columbia Valley?  I'd love to hear it.

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