The Kananaskis Nordic Spa, a brand new (and very welcome!) addition to the Kananaskis Village opened its doors couple of weeks ago. Set to open in stages, the first stage of the spa includes a series of outdoor heated, and one chilled, pools, as well as eucalyptus infused saunas and cedar steam rooms.
Sleek and modern, this new build looks like it belongs on the landscape and it is almost impossible to believe that it popped up over the last months. I recently had the opportunity to test out the spa, and I wanted to share photos and a bit of narrative from my incredibly relaxing night there.
The spa is nestled in behind the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis, accessible by an elevated board walk. Once inside, warm woods and warm accents help to set the mood the second you walk through the door. I love the logo for the spa; it is simple and sleek, yet suits the setting.
More than just a spa; the K Nordic spa also offers a licensed restaurant with luxurious couch seating (even a patio for summer!) as well as an adorable boutique, stocked with a great selection of Lululemon and an assortment of Canada tartan accessories for you to recreate the spa feeling at home after you leave.
Upon check in, guests are given a robe and slippers, as well as a waterproof fob bracelet that electronically lets you into a locker.
The change rooms were some of the most luxurious I have ever seen in a fitness or wellness facility; in the ladies there was an entire room with counters and hair stations to ensure you leave the spa looking as great as you feel.
Once through the change rooms, outside you go! The gathering pool, a two leveled warm water pool, awaits. This large pool is the perfect way to start or end your spa experience (or do like me, and go a couple of times 😉 )
My favourite pool by far was the hot pool; it once again has two levels, but a much cozier and more intimate feel. Bonus: has a waterfall.
You’ll notice the glowing red lights over the robe hooks? Those are heated robe shelters to ensure your walk between pools is cozy even in the winter.
Not pictured, due to adverse camera conditions, are the eucalyptus steam rooms. There are two of them located in one cabin, both rooms spacious enough for large groups. Sleek dark tiles, mixed with cedar make for an incredibly aromatic experience. I also loved that there was a self-filling bucket of cool water with which you can douse yourself when you get too warm in the steam room.
My night spent at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa was exactly what I had needed to cap off an incredibly busy and physically strenuous week. It was such a relaxing environment, with great amenities. The staff were warm and welcoming and the entire facility was spotless. I will definitely be back very soon. I am also excited for the upcoming phases of the spa which will include massage treatment rooms, yoga/fitness studios and much more.
Have you visited yet? Let me know what you thought!
Snow came fairly early this year; it was like someone flipped the switch on summer and BOOM, it was over. However, the changeover was definitely beautiful. Check it out:
I was incredibly excited to place first in the Kananaskis area photo contest, hosted by the Kananaskis Improvement District.
On top of the usual prizes, the winner of this years contest is to have their photo printed, framed and hung in the brand new Kananaskis Emergency Services Centre (aka my firehall.) KESC is to begin construction this summer and be finished some time in 2018. I am so excited to have a piece of my work hanging in the new hall. The firehall has been my second home since the moment I joined the department and I’m excited to feel like part of me will stay there even after I move (not that I have plans to move right now, just as an eventuality).
My photograph that won was taken in May of 2016, during the most incredible northern lights show that I have ever seen. It was a 10 second exposure of a show that had me enthralled for hours.
This is my winning photo (you need to see it in high res, not compressed like wordpress makes it, to really love it). This has not been photoshopped in any way shape or form, this is what the sky looked like that night.
Lots of amazing photos were entered into the contest, and I’d like to share the runner ups:
Lake Louise is an icon of beauty in the Canadian Rockies; however, most people only know it for its turquoise waters of summer. What about the other 6 months of the year? Lake Louise is actually a winter paradise for people who love being outside in the cold. Here are my favorite things to do outside at Lake Louise in the winter:
On the lake, there is a hockey rink cleared for playing shinny, as well as a large cleared ice surface for families. Just prior to the Banff Ice Magic Festival every January, a large ice castle is built on Lake Louise, in the center of the family ice surface. In years past, there has even been a throne in the heart of the castle, allowing everyone to be King or Queen of Lake Louise, even if only for a minute. Don’t have your own skates? Not a problem! Ice skate rentals are available in the Chateau. Click here for more details on rentals. Pro tip: bundle up, it’s usually quite windy on the lake.
I have wanted to XC ski at Lake Louise for as long as I’ve known there was a trail to ski. I finally got to check that item off my bucket list last week. I skied a couple laps of the lake and with it being my first real xc ski of the season, I was feeling pretty good. I didn’t fall, my technique was solid and I was in a good rhythm. It was a pretty chilly day, sitting around -20 with the wind chill. I have never had my eyelashes freeze before. I should try to pass it off as the latest winter look 😉
The XC ski trail on Lake Louise starts at the boathouse and is flat groomed and trackset all the way to the waterfall at the far end. I skied through powder so I could come back on the other side of the lake and to do it as a loop instead of a linear trail.Parts of the trail were severely mashed due to snowshoers and people walking on it, but the vast majority of the trail was in great shape.
The frozen waterfall at the end of the lake is definitely worth getting to and then hiking up to the base of.
If you’re not big into xc skiing or skating, then give snowshoeing a shot! There is a snowshoe trail that cuts across Lake Louise, as well as many kms of other trails around the lake and surrounding area. Always make sure to check that you are not going into avalanche terrain; check the reports and know what areas are safe. It’s pretty amazing to be able to snowshoe out into the middle of the lake, and to look back at the Chateau: the opposite of what most people see when visiting.
Other winter delights:
Go during the Ice Festival and look at magical ice carvings, have a drink at the outdoor ice bar, take a sleigh ride around the lake or enjoy a bonfire hosted by the Lake Louise staff.
My absolute favorite winter activity at Lake Louise is stargazing. The stars are always fantastic (as long as its clear) and you can set up a long exposure and skate around while you wait, or better yet, play with lights through a long exposure!
… There are sundogs outside!
So what is a sundog? It’s this:
That beautiful circular rainbow around the sun is known as sundog and is caused by ice particles floating in the air, reflecting light (same process as a rainbow, just much colder). The ice crystals act like a prism, bending the light that passes through them and giving the appearance of a rainbow.
These don’t just appear because of the cold, but are usually visible when the sun is low on the horizon on very cold days.
Last week, a very good friend from Ontario came out to visit. I have been friends with Bri since I was 16 and I was super excited to have her come out and visit me here in Kananaskis. This was Bri’s second trip out to the mountains, so we had kind of narrowed down where we wanted to visit. As you saw in a previous post, we went out to the Lussier hot springs near Invermere, BC but we also took a couple days and went up to Jasper. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, and all the lakes are still open (pretty weird for this time of year) which made for some awesome photos. Here are some of the highlights of our time in Jasper:
So in the past, I have written several pieces on different photographic ‘how tos’ and I plan on making more of a habit of it. To kick off this series, I figured I should start with something fun. And seasonal. So here we go:
How To Photograph Ghosts
Or rather, a ‘ghost.’ Because I am not promising that by reading this, you are going to be able to go out and find a ghost who is willing to pose for you. But I am here to make it look like you did…
Lets take a quick look at the history of ghost photos:
So these photos are clearly old and appear to contain ghosts. And while there wasn’t photoshop back in the day, there were still frugal people.
Are you wondering what the heck I am talking about? Well before the days of films, photographs used to be taken on glass slides. But if a photographer used a slide and didn’t like the final photo, they would wash the slide and re-use it, to save money. However, sometimes the slides weren’t washed all that well, so they would end up with a ghost like figure in the new photo.
Now obviously in this day & age, you don’t really see people photographing on slides…ever. So how can we replicate this effect? The answer is actually quite easily! While it is obviously possible to make double exposure photos with any number of photo editing program, it is also very much possible to make them in camera. And making them in camera is WAY more fun.
What you need:
- A DSLR camera, or a camera in which you can manually adjust all the settings.
- A piece of thick, dark paper or cardboard
- A remote for your camera (although it is possible to do without)
- A light (any kind will do; off camera flash, flashlight or even phone light in a pinch)
- A ‘ghostly’ figure. Friends and family work quite nicely
Now for this to work best, and for best creepy effect, I suggest doing it at night, maybe add in some flickering candles.
So while it is possible to do this with a wide range of camera settings, what you decided to set your camera on will depend on what look you are going for. You will need to experiment with aperture and ISO while shooting on Bulb mode for shutter. Regardless of what you set your camera to aperature/ISO wise, the principle is the same:
- Set up your tripod with your camera looking at the scene you want to photograph. A static scene is best, since you want the only moving object to be your subject.
- With your camera set to ‘bulb’, you are going to trigger the shutter, with your subject outside of the frame.
- Do not end the shot, but take the piece of cardboard/dark paper and cover the camera lens (gently! Don’t move the camera) and get your subject into position in the frame.
- Now remove the piece of paper, letting the camera capture your subject before triggering the shutter to close.
Experiment with how long you let the shutter stay open, and try doing shorter bursts with your subject in frame, to see how ghostly, or how solid, you can make them appear. If you find that they are always appearing too dark in the frame, then briefly shine a light on them while you are photographing them.
Get creative with this, play around! Get your subject to dress up, or wear ghoulish make up. Try different sorts of settings and see what kind of photos you can create. Its easy to see why this kind of photo shoot can be so much fun; way more fun than sitting at your computer and mashing two photos together in photoshop.
You can also apply this principle to non creepy shoots. Ever wanted to try cloning?
Want to make it look like the ‘orbs’ that paranormal activity shows seem to see all over? Try playing with light instead of a living subject.
There is no wrong way to do this as long as you are getting the desired effect. Its also a great way to get to know your camera settings and what you can do with them. Share your best ‘ghost’ photos with me over on my Facebook page!
The Banff Mountain Film fest is very much a who’s who of Mountain culture, which is why I feel incredibly special that I have received a personal invite to the World Premiere of a movie called Drawing Home. This movie was filmed primarily in the Banff area and shows off classic Banff and Lake Louise views. I am super excited to get to be one of the first to see this movie! Do you want to join me at the premiere? Swing by facebook page and enter to win tickets!
Boston in the 1920s. A young East Coast debutante is dating the most eligible bachelor in the world, John D. Rockefeller III. Her future seems set: a dream life in the upper echelons of society. But when she least expects it, she meets a young painter from one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Their worlds are polar opposites, and as their attraction turns their lives upside down, they soon face a universal question: Can you find “home” in another person? Inspired by a true story.
Starring JUAN RIEDINGER (narcos), golden globe and emmy nominee KATE MULGREW (orange is the new black, star trek voyager), emmy winner and golden globe nominee PETER STRAUSS (state of the union; rich man, poor man), TORRANCE COOMBS (reign, the tudors), KRISTIN GRIFFITH (king of the hill, the europeans, interiors), CHRISTIAN CAMPBELL as well as golden globe winner RUTGER HAUER (true blood, batman begins, blade runner) and WALLACE SHAWN (gossip girl, toy story, the princess bride), and introducing JULIE LYNN MORTENSEN as catharine robb whyte. academy award and grammy nominee JUDY COLLINS sings the original theme song “Stars in My Eyes.”
DRAWING HOME will celebrate its world premiere on November 2 at the 2016 Banff Mountain Festival in Canada and its U.S. premiere on November 10 at the 2016 St. Louis International Film Fest.