By Kita Marie Williams
Jumping into a freezing, slushy, ice-filled Canadian lake hadn’t been part of my holiday plan – but our tour guide told us that a brisk ‘Polar Bear Swim’ was a rite-of-passage, the perfect introduction to the pure Canadian elements. We were standing at the edge of Bow Lake, surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains and tall pine trees, on a crisp early-Spring afternoon.
After a little cajoling, twenty of us stripped down and tiptoed up to the bright blue meltwater – we’d learned that the breathtaking turquoise lakes of the Rocky Mountains get their spectacular colour from suspended particles of rock ‘flour’ ground by slowly moving glaciers.
Our guide counted down, and I gasped a deep breath for courage. We raced in and plunged all the way under the water. For a single second it wasn’t so bad. Then the cold hit like needles, and we dashed clumsily back to the shore shrieking like banshees.
There was a no-holds-barred race for towels and clothing. One guy lost his prescription glasses in the mad rush to get out of the water. Faced with going back in, he decided he could live without them.
While we hastily redressed someone called out that a young grizzly bear was walking through the picnic area. I grabbed my gear and we sprinted over. Still shivering we huddled a safe distance away to snap photos and admire the shaggy brown bear. It was a wonderful taste of the wild, rugged Canadian Rocky Mountains and the thrilling experiences to come.
About Kita Marie:
I’m a marine biology student and enthusiastic traveller, always willing to try peculiar foods and do the unexpected. I love exploring beautiful landscapes – I have a particular addiction to frosty mountains and alpine forests. I’m keen to hear travel stories from around the globe, while also sharing my own!