After breakfast this morning, Rachel and Jasmine took us out for a walk up through the Hoodoos conservation area, just a mile down the main road from where they live. The area is part of a large glacial moraine over three hundred feet high, where it looms over the road by Dutch Creek Bridge. Its outer surfaces have been eroded by wind and water into strange statuesque pillars since the time when it was a large plug for an earlier much bigger version of Columbia lake, pushed into place by the glacier which preceded it in one of the Ice Ages. Now it's covered with trees and undergrowth, providing a home for many species of animals and birds. It's a slice of paradise for any naturalist.
The temperature went down to minus eighteen overnight. The sky was clear bright, the air still, and the cold air invigorating as we made our way south up the steep track on the east side of the moraine. We saw the tracks of deer, hare, rabbit, and cougar, in addition to those of a cross country skier. Jasmine heard the call of a black capped chickadee, which she'd learned about in pre-school group, and I spotted a small flock of them roosting in a fir tree, and photographed, along with the animal tracks, and the spectacular scenic views of the mountains, Columbia lake and river valley. It was an unique experience worth coming to Canada for in its own right.
Jasmine got chilled and had to be carried back down, warmed up and cheered up with a story from Grandma (my, how that child loves stories!), while we drove her to her pre-school afternoon session. We then had lunch at Invermere's Blue Dog Cafe. It had an excellent healthy snack menu and seemed to by run by a team of staff who all looked young enough to be still in school - we all remarked on it - and very well they did their job too. We browsed an excellently stocked bookshop for a while and resolved to waste more time here tomorrow morning, when we shall have to wait there for Rachel to give us a rise to Radium Hot Springs to pick up our Greyhound Coach for Calgary.
With an hour to spare before collecting Jasmine, we drove over the mountain pass and down the valley to have a brief look at Panorama, with its formidable 10,000 ft ski mountain, golf courses and, when not frozen, the white water rafting river that runs alongside the road. It was far to cold to stop and walk around, but at least we got some idea of the place, and took photos. It's been too cold to ski here this time, but never mind. It's so good just to view on a day a bright as this.
We returned, picked up Jasmine from school and headed home to Fairmont Hot Springs. I quickly changed, donned my cross country skis and headed out for one last circuit of the gold course, just as the setting sun's light turned the snowy peaks that tower above Fairmont's ski hill a glorious shade of pink - not orange, but on a day with the air as clear and pure as it has been today.
What a lovely way to say goodbye to this extraordinary place that's been our home for the past month.
Thanks for having us John, Rachel and Jasmine.