5 Bear Day

Trip Start May 11, 2011
Trip End May 26, 2011

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, May 23, 2011

Today we had an unexpected day of wonders. We awoke to clouds and it appeared that the south looked clearer so we decided to head down the highway to Whiteswan Provincial Park where they have hot pools that are along the river.  They are completely natural and river fed and FREE.  Jym hates the ones that are just like swimming pools filled with the mineral water.  After Costa Rica I admit is difficult to wrap your head around a natural water pool in an unnatural setting.  I am not sure who piled the rocks around the spring in Lussier but bravo and thank you.  The road back there was rough and about 20 minutes in from the highway.  It took about an hour I think to get to the turnoff from radium.  It was considered a "secondary road" which I thought just meant not the highway.  We were bumping over the gravel road and I was like “Wow I guess this is what Canadians consider a secondary road.”  Jym said “This is what the Kiwis call a PRIMARY road!”  I had to laugh because I do remember the severe lack of paved roads especially in the south island in NZ.  The road also climbed up into the mountain and edged some very steep drops.  I get nervous around open cliffs like that.  NZ was quite a challenge with that sort of thing so you think I would be over it…but nope.  Jym decided he wanted to get out and look so we stopped and he thought it was funny trying to drag me closer to the cliff edge.  I wrapped my arm around the window frame of the car door.  We eventually made our way back to the parking area and little hike and there were changing areas at the top of the trail head…pretty much just wooden structures with pit toilets but it worked.  We changed into our bathing suits and made our way down the steep trail to the river bed.  It was apparently no secret how awesome the hot pools were because it was full of people.  We had such a nice time.  The main pool is very hot.  You almost feel like you are being boiled alive.  My skin was quite red after a sit in there.  It is also very rocky and I didn't bring my flip flops…dumb…and my feet are tender…not like Jym’s big tough man feet.  I was willing to make the trade though for the natural setting.  You could sit on the rocks and put your feet in and there was a hole between the rocks where the spring was releasing its hot water into the pools.  The lower pools (2) were freezing cold because the river was flowing into them.  At one point in the first pool the water from the spring was running into the pool meeting the cold river water.  That was a nice spot to sit in.  There were also areas in the rocks that were small and made tiny little private pools for one or two people.  You just had to watch out for sharp rocks poking you in the butt.  But that was a small price to pay for such natural beauty.  I did want to do the pools in Radium but after that experience it would have paled.  The sulphur smell was pretty bad though so I made sure to wash the bathing suits and Li decided he would not enter the water because he did not want to smell like Sulphur.  Although Li does need a bath. He has the stink of many continents on him.  I think it just makes him a more worldly penguin. 

We were seeing so many fields full of dandelions.  I know dandelions are “weeds” technically but they have a special place in my heart.  My grandma used to gather them from the yard and eat them.  She cooked them up or something.  I remember walking with her as a child when she dug them up.  Right now here because it is still so cold there are few flowers but the dandelions are everywhere and quite lovely yellow against the blue sky.

We headed back for a nap before heading out to see Sinclair Canyon…it is very close to town and right inside the entrance to the park.  We made our stop and took pics and Jym suggested we head up the road a bit more into the park. We stopped by Oliva Lake and had a small walk into the woods and saw the spring head that feeds the lake and the bubbles from deep in the earth.  The lake has an amazing green color but it was hard to get a good shot of it I think.We also checked out the red cliffs by Radium Hot Springs.  The 93 is supposed to be a wildlife corridor as they call it but we saw little wildlife on the way in.  This journey was more just to see some lakes and features on the early part of the road.  It was about 8:00 or so and we could see rain moving in.  Then we spotted him…our first bear out this way!  He was huge and he clawed at a tree before settling down by a small pond to drink.  He was at the bottom of a steep hill and right off the roadway so we had an excellent shot of him.  Several cars stopped and we all were taking pics of the amazing sight.  A lot of cars just kept going though.  Did they think we were all taking pics of trees or mountain goats??  But then some assholes drove by laughing and honking obviously trying to scare off our bear.   Real funny jerks.  But you know what he didn’t leave and you all missed a bear!!  Losers!!  They must be the same people littering in the nature…stay tuned for my series of photos on this big annoyance of mine. 

Anyway…so then we moved on after our big Black Bear (I am pretty sure it was a black bear) wandered into the woods across a patch of snow.  Right down the road about a kilometer we saw another bear…this one smaller…possibly a cub or at least a teenager.  He was small and so close to the roadside.  People started pulling over and getting out to get a better shot.  I was not thinking this was a good idea since the bear being so young might have had a mom nearby and I was thinking that we could have been watching the smaller bear and mom could have come up from behind and eaten us.  Jym and I chose to stay in the car.  I climbed in the back seat so we both had a view out the window.  Of course I had to crawl over all the crap in the process sitting on stuff…like chips.  A park ranger drove by but kept going.  I thought for sure he would stop and make people get back in their cars but he didn’t.  I remember in Yellowstone a bear was in a field and some people got out and everyone started running toward the bear and one poor ranger was running after everyone trying to make everyone get back in their car and for everyone he would catch 2 more dumbasses ran out into the field.  Here in Canada I guess they have the “thinning the heard” mentality…if you are too stupid to see the obvious danger then you deserve to be eaten and mauled.  I like that. Then we went up the road a ways after that bear headed into the woods seeking better grass and it began to rain.  We turned around and quite thrilled with the 2 bears headed back.  Then right there it was…another bear crossing the road in front of us and then headed up the hillside right by us.  Then shortly after we came onto a truck going very slowly down the very steep grade.  Jym was bored being behind him so we turned around again and headed back up the mountain and wham…a huge bear on the right side right by the road.  We then turned around again and shortly up the road by a guardrail came upon bear #5!!  This one was smaller and we had lost daylight and it was raining so he was hard to photograph but right there.  These bears were all within feet of us.  I have never been so close to a bear much less 5 of them…all shapes and sizes too.  And they all looked at me.  Which is odd since most of my wildlife sighting are butt shots.  The first bear was laying down by the water and he looked up at me then lifted his one paw up like to wave at me!!  They were so amazing.  We determined that TODAY was the day the teddy bear’s had their picnic! 

We went back to the resort and cooked up the big fat steaks on the grill we had bought that afternoon.  Sitting there in the dim light eating my steak with my glass of ice wine looking up at my husband…it was one of those moments in life when you feel so good and so complete and you just wish you could bottle that moment and remember everything about it.  A moment you just feel happy to be alive.  It was truly a fabulous day.  It was very dark outside too but it was covered in clouds so no stars but I bet if we had a clear night there would be amazing stars.  I took a bath in the huge soaker tub after doing laundry and watching a movie with Jym.  For some reason the jets started turning themselves on all night long about every 45 minutes or so.  We finally flipped the breaker to shut it off.  It was weird.  They said it was just trying to get the water out of the jets but come on…it was deafeningly loud.  We first heard it while watching TV and wondered what the hell that noise was.  Then it kept happening after I had gone to bed. Jym finally shut the breaker off. 
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