Driving to Alaska Day 5: Golden, British Columbia

Welcome to post 5 of 18 in our Driving to Alaska series. We hope you enjoy the stories from this unforgettable 4,000 mile road trip.

Skookumchuck, BC to Golden, BC

At 6:30 am we emerged from our sleeping bags and slid ourselves out of our cave.  It was somewhere around 35 degrees outside and I was surprisingly not miserable.  I had feared that living without a furnace would make for rather uncomfortable mornings on this trip but so far it wasn’t so bad.  Hot tea and crisp views of snow-capped peaks helped divert my attention.  

Immediately after eating and cleaning up breakfast it began to drizzle so we packed up and made our way to a nearby hot spring.  With only two hours of driving on the itinerary for the day, we had the luxury of time on our side. A morning soak sounded like the perfect way to start the day. 

In the small town of Canal Flats we left the truck and trailer behind and consolidated our crew into Cade & Becca’s Tundra for the 11 mile drive into the forest.  As I gathered the items I thought I might want and put them a small bag, I felt as though Mark & I were the complete embodiment of George Carlin’s stand-up comedy bit about “stuff”.  In the last week we had moved out of our travel trailer and into our truck camper.  Then we paired down even further when we left our truck camper behind and moved into Cade & Becca’s truck for the trip to Alaska.  And now we were narrowing down our possessions to that which could fit in a single bag for our morning excursion…camera, bathing suit, towel, and jacket.  

While Cade & Becca are seasoned hot spring seekers, Mark and I are not.  During the 200 yard walk from the parking lot to the hot spring, a cold rain fell steadily.  I was wearing my down jacket and had forgotten a rain coat.  My down insulation was quickly losing its loft with every drop.  It hardly mattered though. Apparently I was about to willingly strip down to a bathing suit even though my every instinct was against it.  What would my friends think of me if I told them I’d rather be warm and dry and wait for them in the comfort of the truck?, I thought.  A hot pool of water was only a few steps away so I quickly stripped down, piled my things inside a dry bag and scurried to the water as I shivered.  The hot water was at first a shock quickly followed by elation.  The scene was what Instagram dreams are made of, four friends soaking in a steaming Canadian hot spring surrounded by perfectly placed boulders, the Lussier river rushing past, and pine-covered mountains rising on either side.  When the rain turned to hail it turned up the dial on the ambiance another notch.  Nature had gone from feeling harsh to decadent in a matter of seconds.

We soaked in our surroundings, both literally and figuratively, for over an hour.  The 105 degree water warmed our insides enough to inspire several cold plunges in the river before returning to the spring.  Getting out of the water, out of our wet swimsuits, and into our (somewhat) dry clothing all in the pouring rain was a cold and cumbersome effort but entirely worth it.  Without the enthusiasm of our friends I would have opted out of this experience.  Being pushed to endure a little discomfort reminded me that nothing lasts forever and oftentimes something awesome awaits on the other side.

From Canal Flats we drove 100 easy miles to our destination of Golden, British Columbia where we met Cade & Becca’s friend Dre.  Dre is a Golden local and reserved us a nice campsite walking distance from downtown.  Thanks to her knowledge we were able to learn a few fun facts about Golden and the surrounding region.  It was also thanks to her that we got to enjoy a fantastic meal at one of her favorite restaurants called Reposados.  Nothing beats having your own personal local guide.  

When we got back to camp I was chilled to the bone and dreading the cold night ahead.  It was only 6:30pm and the low was forecasted to dip into the low 20s. In my attempt to not turn to an ice cube while hanging out with the group, I piled on as many layers as I could.  Two pairs of pants, one wool base layer beneath a fleece beneath not one but two puffy coats managed to warm me up.  This is what I get for spending the entire year in pursuit of mild weather.  Cold, wet weather is far from what I’m acclimated to.  It took probably 10 minutes to peel off all the excess layers before crawling into my sleeping bag, a 15 degree bag that would hopefully prove to live up to its rating.  I dozed off with a single wish, that I wound’t have to get up in the middle of the night and venture into the cold to go to the bathroom.  

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We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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