Explore Canada 2015
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
There’s nothing better than driving in British Columbia.
We drove through the town of Golden and up into the mountains to the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
The Resort is well known for its skiing in the winter and as a world class down hill mountain biking venue in the summer, where riders are chair lifted to the start line before enjoying the rush of the descent …how’s that for the royal treatment?
The chairlift offers a terrific place to get a vista of the region – heading up the Purcell Ranges. If you look down below, you will see a great big trench between two mountain ranges. It’s actually the divide between the two mountain ranges – Columbia, which is what Purcell Ranges are part of, and the Rockies.
And…this is also bear country!
A very special 20 acres within the Resort has been set aside for the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge, home to its resident Grizzly - Boo. At just five months, Boo and his brother Cari were orphaned after their mother was shot by poachers. The cubs were found and adopted by the Resort who specifically developed this refuge for them. Sadly Cari didn’t survive the first winter however Boo, has spent his 12 years as the focus of a pioneering study program – Raise and Release Program - helping better understand the habits of Grizzly Bears.
A lot of the program at the refuge is about observing and documenting Boo’s skill development. There are dozens of plants growing in the refuge that are good grizzly bear food; but they are growing amongst hundreds and thousands of other plants that aren’t good food. And Boo has had to learn to distinguish between the two himself. It’s very specialised – some plants he will only eat the leaves, others he eats only the fruits, others it is just the flowers and others he digs and eats and bulbs and roots. At first, the refuge wasn’t sure if Boo, an orphaned bear, would be able to learn this skill on his own, but through observing they have discovered that orphaned bears can learn this skill, because they have observed Boo successfully do it.
Being protected from other bears by electric fence, Boo, despite not having his mother to teach him, has developed and honed his hunting and survival skills in this patch of wilderness. Proving these skills are part of a Grizzly’s genetic make up.
What’s the difference between grizzly bears and black bears? On grizzlies you will see a big hump on it’s back – that’s all muscle.
It controls huge arms and the claws – for digging. The blonde hairs also gives the bears a grizzled look – thus the name grizzly bear.
For lunch, we headed further up the mountain now, this time by gondola. After a scenic 15-minute gondola ride, we arrived at Eagle Eye Restaurant at 7,750 feet in the air! We have a very special view from up here – the restaurant overlooks five national parks: Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Kootney and Glacier.
Give yourself time to take in the magnificent panorama it will take your breath away at each turn and what better way to enjoy the view than over a superb lunch. Afterwards, walk it off along one of the many trails on the nearby ridges.
For more information about Kicking Horse Resort, the bear refuge or the restaurant, visit kickinghorseresort.com
From Kicking Horse Resort, we drove north-east to an idyllic corner of the world we’ve heard about, tucked away in Yoho National Park. It’s quite simple driving in British Columbia – the roads are lovely and wide and easy to drive, and beautifully signed in English!
In Yoho National Park, we headed to Emerald Lake.
Emerald Lake has been a favourite holiday spot for Canadians and their American neighbours for generations. More recently, overseas visitors have flocked here to enjoy the striking coloured waters and the serene and truly stunning backdrop - because for many, this is postcard-perfect Canada.
We’ve been lucky to have paddled in beautiful waters all over the world, but nothing as pristine as this. The turquoise waters of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park are a must by canoe.
If getting out on a canoe is not your thing --- you can walk around the lake. There is a magnificent walking trail here; hiking is so much fun. You see the incredible fauna and flora both.
This really is the sort of place where you can unplug and de-stress, especially with accommodation like Emerald Lake Lodge lining the shore. With their stone fireplaces, the Emerald Lake Lodge’s timber cabins are the perfect place to wind down and enjoy some peace and quiet. The Lodge itself is a combination of hunting lodge simplicity and boutique comfort, with some excellent food in the dining room competing for your attention with the superb views of the lake.
For more information about Emerald Lake Lodge and Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, visit: Emerald Lake Lodge and Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.