Last Thursday afternoon, I presented to my co-workers a three-centimetre thick chunk of ice. It was a frozen piece of Lake Windermere, and it came sooner than any of us expected.
With one deep freeze in late November, the valley has been plunged into “winter wonderland” status. By Sunday afternoon, the lake wasn’t just frozen – it was measured at 3.5 inches thick just offshore from Kinsmen Beach, as families and youngsters skated around on the perfectly formed, snow-free ice surface, playing games of shinny. It was exactly the kind of idyllic family fun that so many of the valley’s visitors are after, and it was timed beautifully with the well-attended Light Up Night event in Invermere.
As for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors’ “Catch the Freeze” contest, again, no one was even within a day or two. Though the winning entrant (see page A1) guessed Saturday, November 23rd, the sudden winter took many of us by surprise.
Thinking there might be a story here, I phoned Environment Canada’s regional meteorologist, who confirmed the only thing abnormal was the valley’s unusually short memory. We had nearly identical temperatures at this time two years ago, as measured by an unofficial weather station (see www.goo.gl/d5yHb3) at Ruault Ranch, on the west side of the lake.
It’s no surprise that the outdoor bonspiel, pond hockey championships and more are held here every winter. In addition to the draw posed by the stunning mountain scenery, we actually have remarkably consistent winter weather conditions that create incredible playgrounds in our ski hills, cross country trails and frozen lakes and rivers.
That’s a winning combination for visitors around the region and around the world. In the course of Sunday afternoon alone, I met Golden-based backcountry skiers emerging from several days of blissful sled-skiing at Jumbo Pass, an Australian new to not only skating on a lake but skating, period, and some recent German immigrants to the valley enjoying the Toby Creek area near Panorama.
Clearly, everybody loves the Columbia Valley in the winter.