Tell Winter to Go “Soak Its Head”

Imagine a bunch of friends sitting around having a pre-spring gathering …

You know, those early April days when, if you sit in a sheltered spot in the direct sun, your thermometer can reach some surprisingly high readings. People were wearing sunglasses and T-shirts and talking about what needed to be done to be ready for their first camping trip of the season.

Suddenly, Steve jumped up out of his chair. “Twenty-eight degrees! It’s plus 28 in the sun … It’s too hot! I can’t take it!”

Peeling off his T-shirt, as he galloped down the stairs, Steve threw himself into a snowbank and started thrashing his arms. “Swimming! It’s so hot, I’m swimming!”

Maybe, maybe not. Snow-swimming isn’t for everyone, but Steve was joined by a couple of other people determined not to let the lingering winter defeat them.

For the more conservative among us, there are a number of other winter water-sport options.

For example, consider a visit to one of the hot springs in the region. Takhini Hot Springs is no more than a 25-minute drive from town. The swimming section of the pool isn’t Olympic-sized, but it’s long enough for a half-decent stretch. Best of all, if you become a bit lethargic in the warm water, you can find yourself a spot to just sit, relax and enjoy.

Although Liard River Hot Springs are technically in British Columbia, there aren’t many Yukoners who haven’t found themselves, for one reason or another, soaking in those steaming pools. It’s a great place to stop if you are on either leg of a road trip Outside and more than just a handful of us have headed down there for a weekend or even an overnight just for the fun of it.

Closer to home and therefore even less-often considered part of our neighbouring province, are the Atlin … well, warm springs. I’ve camped there early enough in the season that a light snow drizzled past the waking-up-grizzly-bear scratch marks on the trees, and the warm springs were like a great-big bathtub that never turned cold.

It was awesome.

And don’t let Old Man Winter stop you from participating in a couple of water activities normally associated with those sun holidays your friends and co-workers seem to be constantly going on. You don’t necessarily need to be in Mexico or Hawaii to go snorkeling – or diving, for that matter.

Grab your mask and snorkel the next time you head to the pool for public swimming. You won’t see any Pacific butterfly fish, but then you won’t see any sharks either. Take a deep breath and see how far down you can “duck dive”. Hone your skills and you’ll be ready for the beach when your piggy bank finally overflows.

By watching the local papers and keeping your eye on the What’s Happening Listings, you could become a certified diver (and I mean “certified” in the good sense). Learn your basic skills in the pool and, when the time is right, you’ll be ready to jump in the drink to do your open-water dives and polish off the course.

If you are willing to try the chillier-yet-more-readily accessible waters located along the coast of another of our neighbours, Alaska, you won’t be waiting long to splash into your first dive.

One last thought – and this may be the most fun of all …

Dig your swimsuit out from under your ski pants, and head to the pool. Forget about lane swimming, goggles and counting laps. Ignore all of that and walk directly to the waterslide.

Trot up the stairs and, once at the top, lie down as flat as you possibly can. Now, let go. If you work the corners just right, you might be at the bottom before you cross your hands onto your shoulders.

You’ll certainly cover a lot more distance than you would snow-swimming.

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