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>experiences III


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Musicians are linked by the common labor of driving.

spring: experiences



ur Alaskan friends insisted we stop at milepost 496 to visit the Liard River Hotsprings, Canada's second largest hotsprings. This pristeen Provincial Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and charges no admission (or poses any entrance restrictions for that matter).

It was about 4am when I pulled the silent van into its parking area. The hotsprings was deserted; I was able to interest one other band member in checking it out.

The hotsprings are accessed by walking .4 of a mile along a level The water is very hot...
ranging from 100 to nearly 130 degrees.boardwalk which traverses a swampy bog. The wetlands water is naturally warm, and in contrast with the chill air causes a light fog to enshroud the area. Hundreds of plant species grow there, including an unlikely fourteen species of orchids.

At the boardwalk's end we found a deck surrounding the "Alpha Pool," the smaller of two natural hotsprings. The amount of development is beautifully balanced. It is rustic enough to compliment the vividly natural surroundings, yet comfortable enough to help maximize the experience for a wide range of visitors.

On the deck are two changing rooms, and the shallow pool features submerged benches and a smooth, small-gravel bottom. A 3-foot-high waterfall splashes nearby. The water is very hot. The temperature varies wildly, ranging from 100 to nearly 130 degrees. This limits the amount of time one can spend in the water; we spent about 20 minutes.

Relaxed and energized, we exited the water and got dressed. Being Liard Hotsprings is a well-known and excellent spot on
the Alaska highway.superheated, we had a few minutes to throw our clothes on before the 35 degree temperatures began to feel cold.

At this far northern latitude, summer days begin early. Walking back, the gray light gave the swampy scene a primordial, prehistoric feeling.

Being such a well-known and special place, there are quite a few references to Liard Hotsprings on the web.

Our little jaunt to the springs was idyllic. Another side to visiting the hotsprings, one that was thankfully not part of our experience, is revealed in this terrifying 1997 news item:

YUKON NEWS-Wednesday, August 20, 1997-Fort Nelson RCMP have released further details about last week's black bear attack at the Liard Hot Springs in northern British Columbia. Police have confirmed the attack took place in the hanging gardens, an area located between the upper and lower hot springs.

Police also say the bear was an underweight adult, and that only a single bear was involved in the incident. Patti McConnell, 37, of Paris, Texas and Raymond Kitchen, 57, of Fort Nelson, B.C. were killed in the attack. McConnell's 13-year-old son, Kelly, remains in a Vancouver hospital in stable condition. A 20-year-old man, whose name is not being released, was also injured, and remains in stable condition in a Calgary hospital. RCMP say the bear attacked Patti McConnell in the hanging gardens. When her son tried to help, it attacked him. Numerous people, including Kitchen, attempted to intervene. The bear then turned on Kitchen and attacked him. Others tried unsuccessfully to help him, but the bear eventually fled into the bush after being kicked by one witness.

Four university students conducting research in the area heard the commotion and came to see if they could help, say RCMP. The bear re-emerged from the bush and they fled. One of the students, however, fell and the bear attacked him. It was at that point someone with a rifle shot and killed it.

"A number of people present that evening acted in a heroic manner," says an RCMP news release. "Mr. Kitchen was one of these people and made the ultimate sacrifice."

(original source)

What was the chance our idyllic interlude might morph into an encounter with a bear or other dangerous animal? We should have recognized this as a possibility. In this part of the world, wild animals are encountered regularly and without warning. Our experiences already included up-close sightings of bear, moose, elk and mountain goats.

But, tantalized by the promise of the luxurious hotsprings in the peaceful, pre-dawn wilderness, we didn't give it a thought.

NEXT ...By late afternoon I was in the throes of sleep deprivation.

"By late afternoon I was in the throes of full-scale, self-induced sleep deprivation, fighting to stay awake to enjoy the beautiful sights if it killed me..."

The Four Seasons of Driving

Winter: Fear and Danger
Winter I | Winter II | Winter III

Spring: Beauty
Introduction | Familiarity | Exceptional Experiences
Exceptional Experiences II | Exceptional Experiences III

Summer: Fatigue and Frustration
Fatigue | Frustration

Fall: Reflection

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© Copyright 1999 by Brian S. Alpert.
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