We have a day in Golden, BC before coming back to Alberta to catch a bus along the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise. As we have a hire car, it seems worth making use of it to explore further and faster than public transport options would let us, but there is so much to see and so little time.
We start off on the Trans-Canada towards Revelstoke, with the idea of having a look at the Glacier National Park. Golden is green in these first days of May. It feels like getting out of ever-winter in Narnia-like Alberta to a fresh spring. There is a lacy spray of pale, almost yellow green on birches and all the other trees are coming to life too.
As the road climbs up towards Rogers Pass, the colour starts to seeps out of the landscape. The sky gets overcast and greyish-white, the mountains are covered in snow not just on tops but all the way down, and it even starts to snow a bit at the road level. Monochrome mountains are covered in sparse and stunted-seeming trees, everything in shades of grey and white. Glacier National Park is known for its atrocious weather, but the complete change of conditions within an hour's driving is still striking.
We turn around at Rogers Pass (altitude 1,330 m) and leave the winter to go back to spring, past Golden and along the Columbia River valley towards the Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Springs. It's too late to get to Radium, which isn't supposed to be particularly attractive place in itself anyway, but we drive for a couple of hours (with frequent stops) through an enchanting landscape of wide-spreading marshland, verdant floodplain and misty mountains further in the background.
This is a beautiful time to be here, as the spring is truly springing and everywhere can be seen this incredibly fresh, pale, almost yellow-tinted green of soft, small shoots and leaves. Human eye can distinguish more varieties of green (and yellow) than any other colour and it seems to me that at least half of those we can see are present in the new foliage along the Columbia valley. The birches are particularly lovely, with their white, black speckled trunks contrasting beautifully with the green. There are still many confers, with their bottle-green and the river and marshes add to the variety.
We stop several times for photos and just to take in the view. The parking spaces seem to be purposefully designed away from views though, so we see more while driving then when stopped. There is very little traffic and not many villages, and what there is consists of a few houses dotted in sparse clusters around the road.
The mountains on the other side of the river, to the west of the road, are not actually, technically, Rockies anymore but the Selkirk range of the older Columbia mountains. They are, indeed, a little bit rounder and less foreboding than the Rockies – but only a little bit – and still form an impressive backdrop to the river plain.
Beautiful British Columbia indeed.