Canada in Winter
Size: 9,985,000 sqkm
Time Zone: GMT -8 to -4
Land of Mountains & Big Skies
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I flew into Kelowna and met up with Jana just before Christmas 2012. We had a day for Jana to show me around, and, with snow thick on the ground, had a walk in the woods and explored the waterfront areas. The following day we travelled up to Salmon Arm to spend Christmas with Jana’s family.
Salmon Arm is a nice town on the edge of a large lake. We got out for a short cross country ski in the local woods and did some sledging with the children as well as going snow shoeing a couple of times, first out at the edge of the lake, and then to see a frozen waterfall at Margret falls. While the waterfall was not yet fully frozen the path was pure ice making me grateful for the snow shoes and as the sun set it made the while place very beautiful in the half light.
The Rocky Mountains
After Christmas we had a few days to head in the Rocky Mountains. On the first day we travelled out to the town of Golden. Along the way we stopped at the town of Revelstoke, which is a major intersection of the Canadian coal trains, where there is a small train museum which is nicely done. We also saw the last spike where the Canadian west and east coasts were finally connected by rail, but under snow there was not so much to see.
The town of Golden is nestled in the mountains and was my first true sight of the Rockies. We arrive in darkness, so the view surrounding the town only became apparent in the morning. We had a quick walk out to a lovely wooden footbridge straddling the banks of a frozen river before getting on our way.
The temperature had dropped significantly and the air was full of ice crystals, making everything appear very bright.
From Golden we headed further into the mountains, with the scenery becoming more and more breath-taking at every turn. After a quick lunch stop at Lake Louise we made it to Banff mid-afternoon. We headed for Sulphur Mountain, were it is possible to get a cable car to the top of the peak. This opens out a full 360 degree panorama of the mountains. From the cable car station it is a short walk over the adjacent peak, but with strong winds and freezing temperatures it is slightly more exhilarating than might be expected. However, the walk over is worth it as the views are even better. The sun started to dip below the mountains as I was there, providing beautiful sunset shots with the sky turning pink and touching the snow-capped peaks with orange light. After coming back down we headed to the hot spring at the base of the mountain to warm up. While incredibly busy, the water was lovely and warm and was a fitting end to the day.
From Banff we headed out to a place called Johnson Canyon. Here the temperature was around minus 20 degrees so we had to wrap up warm,
but the walk out along boarded sections above a frozen river were worth it to see a large waterfall, frozen solid among the rocks.
Heading out from the canyon we met with a group of mountain goats, but disappointingly no moose, and continued out to Lake Louise.
Not surprisingly Lake Louise is frozen in the winter, so I tried ice skating on the lake as the sun went down and then we had a walk out over the frozen water again in the morning.
That afternoon we visited the Northern Lights wolf sanctuary where they have a number of wolves who are looked after by the owners.
It is possible to go out with the wolves but only at a considerable cost, so we contented ourselves with the tour before heading back to Salmon Arm for new year and then on to Penticton to see one of Jana’s brothers.
From Penticton Jana, who had done all the driving, drove the whole way to Vancouver. We had a day in Vancouver and hired bikes to cycle around Stanley Park, a large park area just outside the main city.