Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Satan's Health Emporium

Let me be clear: I love this place.

Ainsworth, B.C. is perched along the shores of Kootenay Lake, deep in the heart of B.C. So deep that if you saw a map to it you'd swear you can't get there from here.
It is, however, well worth the trip. There are caves.
The hot springs main pool is a very pleasant temperature, 35C if memory serves, and there's a small cold pool, 30C, for plunging. Best of all there's an outside pool that you enter to go into the caves.
I'm claustrophobic. I'm glad to report it was not an issue.
From this smaller outdoor pool bathers have a choice of two tunnels to enter that form a horseshoe about 20 or so feet later. The tunnels are maybe six feet high and about four feet across with water that came up to mid-thigh on me. For the record, I'm a few hair wisps under 5'4."
At the horsehoe the tunnels widen by several feet plus there are a few open alcoves to rest in. Muted amber lights are mounted in the cave walls and unless you are in the horsehoe or an alcove you can see out either tunnel.
This is good for the claustrophobes. I only had a minor problem with it the first time through as I didn't know it was a simple bend and the hot water, 40C, plus the minerals in it were making my chest feel heavy. Not so great when one has asthma and an irregular heart beat. I kept going and refused to panic. It paid off.
It's recommended to spend only about 15 minutes at a time in the caves and that's about all I could handle. The weather was cool with a biting wind so the heat was welcome, but I wished I could have stayed in the pool just outside the cave entrance longer. Same hot water as the cave, but good fresh air. Too many people had the same idea.
I'd go back in a heartbeat. It's a wonderful hot springs and the view of Kootenay Lake and the mountains is magnificent.
Between the hot water and the fragrance of its minerals I couldn't help but think that if Satan opened a health spa, then this place would be it.
This what you see when you take the waters.


Barbara Martin said...

I have had moments of being claustrophic and can perfectly understand why this particular place would bother you, Leah. With the height and width I would have been hesitant in entering such a place. Sometimes overcoming your fears is good practice, but instinct is important to listen to. I haven't heard of this place before, so thanks for the info.

Leah J. Utas said...

Barbara, I held my breath when we went around the horseshoe and focused on my husband's back. It was only a few steps until I saw we'd joined the other tunnel.
Not sure how long I would have lasted without seeing a way out.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

It sounds nice. Remind me of it if I ever say I'm going to British Columbia!

the Bag Lady said...

Another place to add to the list of things to see and do! Thanks, cousin - I might even be able to try the caves, (although I am also terribly claustrophobic) knowing that you managed them!

Leah J. Utas said...

Bunnygirl, count on it. I think you'll enjoy it.

dfBag Lady, you'll do fine in the caves. Plenty of air and natual light most of the way down except at the bend.

Reb said...

Oh, it sounds wonderful! In spite of the little tunnel and the smell. Hm, I haven't been to hot springs in such a long time, I don't know if I could handle the smell these days.

Lovely views though, so it may just be worth it :)

Leah J. Utas said...

Oh, Reb, I think it's exactly what you need. There's a small pool outside the tunnel entrances that you could stay in if you found the fragrances too heavy inside.

messymimi said...

Another for my "when I get rich" list.

You paint lovely word pictures that they should consider using to advertise the place.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thank you so much, Messymimi.

Hilary said...

Sounds like it would be a great experience. I'm claustrophobic too but still it looks like something I'd want to try. So if I'm ever in your neighbourhood, give me directions, ok? ;) Enjoyable post, Leah.

Frank Baron said...

Looks gorgeous but too crowded for me. I'm a claustrophobe as well. From your description, I could probably handle it. Maybe. If everybody else went home. :)

Leah J. Utas said...

It was awfully crowded, Frank, but we were there on the Thanksgiving long weekend. I suspect if one went mid-week, or early in the morning, then it would be a much quieter place.

Nancy said...

Sounds heavenly. We really need to get back to BC - we loved our trip there last year, although we missed this wonderful little side trip. Maybe next time.

Leah J. Utas said...

Nancy, I recommend it. It's a gorgeous drive and the hot springs are among the best I've been in.