After more than a day of snow, the jagged peak of Mt Thor was finally visible through the clouds. A magnificent sight rising above Upper Arrow Lake, I felt lucky to finally see the peak that had been alluding us for the last couple of days. I felt even luckier to be seeing this incredible view from a mineral-laden hot spring. With a mix of fresh snow, good friends, a cute cabin and plentiful wine, I had actually felt pretty fortunate our whole weekend at Halcyon Hot Springs.
Halcyon Hot Springs
Western Canada is home to many more hot springs than I would have ever guessed. Some are obvious (the towns of Fairmont Hot Springs and Harrison Hot Springs totally give the game away for example) but others are hidden deep within remote mountain valleys or in coastal inlets. The springs at Halcyon are located just off Highway 23 but feel much more remote than they are. This is no doubt helped by the (free!) ferry trip required to get there.
As well as having that remote feeling, Halcyon Hot Springs also retains some of the natural atmosphere that I prefer hot springs to have. While the pools are most definitely man-made, the accommodation at the resort consists of rustic cabins and cottages alongside camping. It’s true that some of the cottages are on the luxury side of things, but they are all set beautifully into the forested surroundings.
Hot springs in the snow
I haven’t been to Halcyon Hot Springs in the summer yet, but I can’t imagine there can be anything much better than swimming in their “warm” (38c) pool with snow softly falling from above. A current around the main part of the pool also makes it possible to float around in circles on pool noodles.
There is a hotter pool too (42c) but neither of us could stay in there particularly long. The three-second dash from the changing rooms to the pools was an exhilarating part of the experience; it made sinking into the steaming mineral water all the more satisfying.
The hot springs at Halcyon have a high lithium content. This kind of mineral water is known for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Put simply, it is healing water. Whatever the science, it certainly relaxed us.
Snowed in at the cabin
After soaking in the pools, we usually returned to our cosy cabin to relax more. More private than a hotel room, our cabin was just a few minutes walk from the main Halcyon Hot Springs building. All cabin and cottage guests are given (surprisingly warm!) robes to use when walking to and from the pools.
We woke the first morning to more than a foot of snow outside our cabin. Making first tracks down to the pools, we passed an abandoned car in the ditch. On the way into the changing rooms, I feared having to walk through snow to get to the pools. Of course, I had nothing to worry about. One of the great things about hot springs is that the snow simply melts around the pools!
Not wanting to be completely lazy during our time at Halcyon Hot Springs, we had brought our snowshoes with us. The fresh powder was the perfect incentive for a snowshoe around the grounds of Halcyon. Again breaking first tracks, we traipsed through the forest in the direction of the lake. A steep ascent later and we had made it to the water. Well, kind of. The beach here is both really long and wide, one of the main summer attractions I would imagine. Either way, panoramic views of the deep lake and mountainous backdrop abounded.
Mt. Thor, however, was still being elusive. We wouldn’t see him until the next morning, just before we had to depart Halcyon. He may have been a bit late, but we found plenty to occupy ourselves with in the meantime. A perfect antidote to the winter blues, a weekend at Halcyon provides the healing you didn’t know you needed.
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