This was our fourth trip to Canada in two years. We visited British Columbia twice, Montreal, and now Banff. Little did we realize, our tour we booked with Discover Banff would take us back to BC to snowshoe. So technically, we’ve been to BC three times in two years. The day before we had fresh snow to our delight. Kootenay National Park is located in southeastern British Columbia. It is one of seven parks that form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
There are pit toilets in the parking lot to use before you set out. I’ve grown accustomed to using them along the trails on Vancouver Island. In winter, you don’t notice their smell. Having to pull your pants off in the cold of winter is quite COLD. This was my first time using a pit toilet in winter and the people outside could tell when the cold hit my bum. Vic thought something happened to me me, I replied, “No, it was really cold and I have to pull down my pants.”
The snow was deep. I cheated and followed in the footsteps of our tour guide and tour mate so I wouldn’t have to do all the hard work of sinking in the snow. There were some areas we could explore off trail but we took the easy way out and stayed on.
Oy! This was our first time snowshoeing and it was tiring! Vic is a lot bigger and heavier than me so he really sank DEEP in the snow.
We should have asked the guide to slow down but we didn’t. We got winded really fast (altitude was affecting us). It was a half day tour and we would have liked have gone slower but we had a schedule to keep. We really wished it was full day tour just so we could hang out in this. It was glorious.
According to historians, snowshoes were invented 4000-6000 years ago in Central Asia. In the 20th century, the indigenous people of North America had the most diverse and advanced snowshoe. There were many different styles amongst the indigenous groups. Neil, our guide went over the history of snowshoes and the local area.
The ochre beds of earth is what gives Painted Pots it’s name. A unique chemical activity is what gives it it’s appearance. We couldn’t really see it in the snow but you can in warmer weather. The indigenous tribes: Stoney, Blackfoot, and Ktunaxa (was Kootenay) would collect the ochre; it was used for trade, ceremonies, and paintings. Painted Pots is a sacred site to the Indigenous people, nothing should be removed from this place.
We had a short break and I took the opportunity to roll in the snow. I got snow in places I didn’t intend to. Our guide brought sledding mats but I was content rolling around and Vic just wanted to stand, he was wiped out. While snowing shoeing, the guide, tour mate, and I were knee deep, Vic was thigh deep. Even walking in our tracks didn’t help (he has a lot more mass on his side).
All this virgin snow was ours! Our guide made us maple taffy like the indigenous people of Canada made. I couldn’t believe I was eating some snow. Maple is heated up in a pot and poured into the snow, you use a Popsicle stick to wrap the maple taffy like a lollipop.
It felt really good breathing the fresh air. If we had to vote on it, Iceland, then Banff, and Vancouver Island have the freshest air we’ve ever breathed in. Ah…