“Believe in yourself, especially when no one else will.”
You’re a miner in 1858. You and your pals are rowing back to town after a long, hard time in the Fraser Gold Rush. You worked alongside thousands of men hoping to strike it rich. Did you find anything of value? Well, you’ll have to get to town to find out.
It’s cold. You can see your breath in the crisp air. You keep rowing on the black lake towards town. You dare not touch the water, knowing how frigid it is. It would be a death sentence to get wet in this weather.
Then, the boat starts to rock. Those dark clouds you prayed would stay away have found you. You try to steady the boat against the waves, but can do little with your aching muscles. Water swashes into the boat, narrowly missing you.
The boat rocks again. All three of you are screaming as another wave crashes into the side. You know this is it. You close your eyes as you feel the force of the wave knock you over. There’s a split second of suspense as you prepare for the bitter water.
You feel nothing for a moment. That water is so cold it feels hot. You wait for the icy chill to take you away.
But nothing comes. You float underwater for a moment trying to discern what is happening. You feel fine, even…warm? You swim to the surface and find your pals crying with joy.
That water is hot! You don’t understand how, but you’re alive. It’s a miracle!
This is my creative retelling of one of several similar stories as to how Harrison Spring was discovered by Europeans in 1858. Before the miners’ accidental discovery, the spring had long been used by the native Sts’ailes tribe for its healing powers. Flash forward to 2020 and we took a trip to the town of Harrison Hot Springs to visit the spring pools and tour the village.
Entering the village, it doesn’t take long to see the locals’ love of Bigfoot. In fact, the town’s website says it has been – and still is – home to several Bigfoot investigators, including a gentleman nicknamed “Mr. Sasquatch”. The area’s history with Bigfoot goes back to the Sts’ailes people, who called the creature Sasq’ets, meaning ‘hairy man’. This might be where we get the word ‘sasquatch’.
Our visit was during the off-season and the Bigfoot charm could still be found everywhere, so I can only imagine how full-blown it is during the summer months. There is even a Sasquatch Days Festival in June. That might be something to put on the bucket list.
Our hike for the weekend included the Sandy Cove Beach Trail that led to the Whippoorwill Loop Trail around the huge lake named – you guessed it – Harrison Lake. After passing the source of the spring, we ventured straight up via switchbacks and by climbing over rocks until reaching level ground. The rest of the trail proved much less strenuous, which we didn’t mind. The green forest in mid-February is something not to be missed. I would love to see the juxtaposition of the lush green poking out of white snow.
We made it to the Sandy Cove Beach and, of course, Scout found a stick to play with. We took some time to take in the view of mountains emerging out of the lake while he and the stick duked it out. I don’t know who won, but Scout seemed ready to fight on as I tried to pull his foe away. We made our way to Whippoorwill Point where we found a little bench overlooking the lake. A mist set in that forced as to head back. We passed through the beach again as Scout continued the duel. Then, I’m pretty sure we found ourselves in Narnia before returning to town and ready to eat. We found nourishment at the Old Settler Pub complete with a heated outdoor patio. They even had a sickle bar mower as lawn art, so the place gets a thumbs up from me!
The dominating hotel in the village is the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel and Spa – complete with five private hot spring pools. For us commoners, we stayed at the cozy Hot Spring Hotel Villa and visited the public hot spring pool. Promising spring water with 1,300 parts per million of minerals and hot temperatures, we were ready to get out of the cold and rain.
As newbies to hot spring pools, we read the warnings as we got in. One sign, in particular, caught our attention that said something along the lines of: “Due to hot temperatures, do not stay in pool for more than 10 minutes”. That sounded reasonable to us, but after sitting in the warm water and observing no one else getting out, one hour didn’t seem like it took too much out of us.
Well, it did.
It took about twenty minutes of sitting down, a fruit smoothie, and a good lie down at the hotel before I felt any better. I don’t know if it was the heat or the minerals, but, man! I learned my lesson. Heed the signs!
All in all, it was a great trip. It’s spring break for me, or “reading break” as it is called here. Therefore, we wanted to get out and see a new place before work and school began again. I don’t think we could have chosen a better place to go. I even managed to spot a real Bigfoot:
If you ever find yourself in Vancouver, take the short trip to Harrison Hot Springs. It’ll get you out of the hustle and bustle of the city while providing some gorgeous scenery. And who knows? Maybe you’ll stumble on the ‘hairy man’ himself.
Here’s a little slideshow of more of our trip: