Snowshoeing Painted Pots in Kootenay National Park

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.

I’m kind of craving snow because we had pitiful amounts this past winter (I love snow) and writing about California makes me think of my Dad, right now I need a break from thinking about loosing him and concentrate on my good memories of him. So while our weather is warming up, we’re going back to Canada to have fun in the snow!

Horseshoe rabbit footprints.

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.

Vic isn’t sinking in the snow here! It was pretty packed in this spot.

You can see a bit of ochre earth.

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).

Neil, our guide smoothing out the snow to make it easier to sled.

Got snow in the waist of my pants, up my pant legs, in my neck, and up my sleeves. Totally worth it. I’m  a snow baby, it was snowing when I was born. IN the video you can hear me realize when I got snow up my pant leg and down my waist. I do this on Brooklyn side walks if we get blizzards but it will never be as good as this.

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…

6 thoughts on “Snowshoeing Painted Pots in Kootenay National Park

  1. LOL at using a pit toilet in the winter! 🙂 In Minnesota where you can get frostbite on the tush while using an outhouse, they often install styrofoam toilet seats. I don’t suppose they had those in BC?

    My daughter in Montreal visited a maple syrup farm earlier this year and tried the maple taffy. She said it was good, even though it meant standing outdoors in the cold to enjoy it. Which reminds me: did you have to bring your own winter gear, or did you rent it? I don’t have any boots that could endure a day of hiking in snow!

    1. We have our own gear. We got addicted to outdoor gear when we got into hiking. We always enjoyed winter but it’s so much easier to enjoy it with the right gear. I have 21 inch luggage now and I’m trying to figure out how to pack all that gear into it, snow pants are thick. for this trip I had 24 inch luggage, 3 inches are precious. I’m debating another winter trip because we barely got snow this year.

  2. I’m reminded of being a kid in Minnesota, and living for a while in a house that didn’t have indoor plumbing. After that, I’m not as fond of winter…

    1. Oh no, I can’t imagine having to go out to the bathroom/outhouse. You’re talking to someone that has a bathroom route remembered. As much as I whine about gentrification, it’s been great for bathrooms. In the early 90s when my mom would take me to Soho to look at the art galleries, if we needed a bathroom, we’d ended up running to my grandma’s in Little Italy. Now there’s Bloomies, Starbucks, Crate and Barrel…so many places for a pit stop.

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