We’d been in Calgary where it was -33 degrees on the coldest day, so we came up to the mountains where it warmed up to around -12! With the right clothing, it’s not too difficult to get used to temperatures that cold, especially when it’s dry with clear blue skies above, as it’s very different to the damp cold we get in the UK!
Nonetheless, we had to go for a warm-up in the natural hot springs which are situated near the base of the Banff Gondola. It’s open to the public, and very much like a public swimming pool – except the one thing you don’t do is swim! Having changed in to a swimming costume (you can hire a Victorian-style one if you really want to go retro!), you go into the outdoor pool and the temperature of the water is what hits you immediately. The water is kept at around 38 degrees C and, after the freezing weather outside, it was truly blissful! You just need to sink below the surface and your body warms up to the temperature of the water. The natural minerals are good for you (apparently), but being so warm, you only want to soak and not swim. You can sit on the edges of the pool and not feel cold, as there is steam rising into the air above the pool. There is a limit to what is good for you, however – 20 minutes is the recommended length of stay!
Being in the hot pool, with the steam rising into the air and the snowy mountain peaks all around, is one of the most memorable experiences we’ve ever had! We’d been there during the summer and it was great then, but even better in winter. One warning however – having heated up, preparing for the cold when getting dressed afterwards (given the layers, heavy coat, double socks and boots etc) is something of a nightmare, but you wouldn’t want to go back outside without them on!