Dewar Creek Hot Springs – aka Superlative

Since reading my first book on Hot Springs in Canada, I’d been wanting to make it to Dewar Creek. The book from the 70’s described the spring as Superlative and I’ve been referring to it as that ever since.

1.  Of the highest order, quality, or degree; surpassing or superior to all others.
1.  Something of the highest possible excellence.

I’d talked so much about this spring that it was easy to convince a bunch of people to come. We ended up with Kevin, Amy, Ally, Ty, Vaughan, Brendan and myself. So the plan was set.

We left the city around 5.30pm, and after a not-so-quick dinner stop in Canmore, we made it to Kimberley around midnight. There was some talk of staying there the night, but after meeting up with Ally and Ty, we pushed on the remaining 65kms to the end of the logging roads. The road was excellent until about the last 5kms when it just got worse and worse, until the last 500meters was more a rock scramble than a road. We made the parking lot at 2am, set up our tents and fell into bed.

A not so early 9am start was plenty enough, we were all jumping out of our skin with excitement. We ate, packed up and were on the trail around 10.30. My book said it was about 9kms in, through very over-grown brush. I had seen photos of some very deep river crossings, so I really had no idea what to expect. The trail turned out to be great, quite muddy and churned up from horses in places – but still very manageable. After a few rest stops we arrived at the spring around midday on the most beautiful blue sky day imaginable. The campsite was much more scenic that I could have imagined, and we spent a ton of time sunning ourselves in the late afternoon.

The layout was amazing, with the campsite “Bugle Basin” about 5 mins past the spring. To get to the spring, we dropped quite a lot of elevation straight down to the river. Hot water bubbles out of cracks under the cliffs for a couple of hundred meters along the river bank. The water was up to 85degC – much much too hot to keep your hand in. The soaking challenge was actually getting the hot mixed with some cold at just the right ratio. There were really only 3 tubs that were usable for soaking. A sign indicated that rangers had demolished other tubs to lesson the environmental impact to the area. Fair enough.

We soaked in the main tub for an hour or so, then went exploring. Building our own river-side tubs was never going to be a success, so we just kept exploring, finding all the hot water we could. Vaughan and I finally found a tub at the base of the cliffs that was very small and very difficult to get the right temperature. We decided pre-mixing of the water was the key. A late night soak was a must, and the entire area was engulfed in steam – the moon rise topped it all off. The night was cold, but everyone survived OK.

Vaughan and I were up early for a soak to be greeted by a really thick frost. A mad dash to the spring was well worth it. After breakfast we all geared up for the return hike which was a little quicker and easier. Eating smokies and throwing the Frisbee on the green grass in the sun was a highlight for sure. We rolled back into the city around 11pm making for a huge weekend.

Was it superlative I hear you ask? The soaking experience – maybe not. But the entire package; the location, the forest, the campsite, the sheer size of the spring, etc, etc.

Yep. The Superlative of springs.