The Northern Wilds

When was the last time that you took a day trip near your home that turned into a fabulous adventure?

I have to say, living where I do, it’s hard not to find adventure, or at least somewhere wild.  Last weekend, my daughter in law, Lina came for a visit from Vancouver (Canada) from Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon.  The only 2 requirements for the visit were to see other family and to go horseback riding at a friend’s place.  The first day that she arrived, we went food shopping for the weekend and headed out for dinner with a few of my friends.  While at dinner, we decided that we’d like to go hiking on Saturday and were discussing options.  Earlier that day I had mentioned going north to the Nass Valley in the summer if she were able to return, and that there was a natural hotspring in the area, but this was the trip that she wanted to do now, not wait until summer… so it was decided and two friends from dinner were able to come with us. Click here: Nass Valley info for details about this amazing area.

The goal of the day was to find the hotspring and soak in it.  We woke up excited to hit the road, and left about 11:30.  We hopped in my green jeep, Fiona and my two friends Julie & Kim hopped in Julie’s Toyota truck with each of their dogs.

This winter has been very mild and the roads going north were pretty clear of snow.  We drove past Kalum Lake and through the community of Rosswood toward the north end of Lava Lake,  where there is a small day use recreational site.  We were the only people to make tracks to the lake, the snow wasn’t very deep and it was a short, fun hike.

The short hike to the lake and picnic sites at Lava Lake


Lina standing in front of the snowy Lava Lake

We wandered around for about 20 minutes exploring and snapping photos, then headed for our next stop, a small waterfall along the highway.  During the summer, the ditches along the side of the highway are filled with the most clear, beautiful aqua water.  I know that the winter water levels are low and this year was no exception, everywhere was dry… including the little waterfall that we had hoped to see.  I was disappointed that the water was all dried up, but encouraged Lina to visit again in the summer when water levels will rise to bring us the beauty of the photo below, taken on a trip in August of 2013.

The falls are to the right. Summer 2013

The falls are to the right. Summer 2013

We were eager to find the hotspring and headed north again, past the small community of New Ayiansh, turning left at the fork in the road towards the tiny Canyon City. Along the way we saw a myriad of eagles, some fanning their massive wings in the tops of trees and others fighting with each other for fish in the Nass River along the road.  Lina, who grew up in Berlin, Germany, has never seen sights as these and was in complete awe.

Eagles along the Nisga’a Highway


Fiona & Yota waiting by the road

We reached the hotspring trailhead and had to hike about 15 minutes to reach the water.  We could smell it long before we arrived… the pungent smell of sulphur.

We explored a bit and figured out that we have to fill the pool.  The area has been nicely maintained by local folks.  There are two pipes that are buried from an unknown spot above the pool to transport the hot water into the gravelly ground and two pipes on the other side, buried in a small berm and leading to a small cold creek that runs past the pool.   We had to plug these two pipes to let the pool fill to the depth of our choice.  This is, however, a natural pool so it’s not very deep at the best of times.  We waited for the water to fill for about 15 minutes and started to slowly remove the warm layers of our winter clothes and waded, testing how hot the water was, then eventually sitting when we were satisfied that we wouldn’t be scalded.  It was pretty hot! There’s also a pipe from the upper part of the cold creek that can be moved into the hot pool to cool the water if needed.  We added some cold water until our skin acclimatized to the hot water and then removed it. The depth of the pool while we sat is about waist level.  Once we were in and comfortable we lolled for two whole hours as the dogs ripped around and played together in the snow.  I can’t say I’ve ever been in a natural hotspring in the winter and this was an incredible treat!  Lina was in here element, completely in awe of what the north has to offer.

the start of the hike to the pool

Checking out the pool

Nass Hotspring

Words can’t really describe the joy and awe that we all felt as we enjoyed this natural gift from the earth.  I laid flat for a while, only my face above the water, swishing my arms in the heat of the water, not caring that I’d smell like sulphur the rest of the day and wishing this was in my back yard.  Oh wait it almost is!!

We sure didn’t want to leave and stayed until the light started to fade, but we WILL return!  In the summer, when Lina comes back for another visit!

blurry pic but it’s the best I could find lol




Happy Trails!


Header photo credit: Lina




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