adjective: denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.
1. a tropical Asian and African kingfisher with brightly colored plumage.
2. a mythical bird said by ancient writers to breed in a nest floating at sea at the winter solstice, charming the wind and waves into calm.
That’s how the New Oxford American Dictionary defines Halcyon, the name given to the hot springs and the base area for CMH Heli-Skiing’s newest private heliski program, Nomads South, located on the shore of Arrow Lake, just south of Revelstoke, British Columbia.
One legend says the first nations people avoided the springs, calling them “mesachie”, their word for evil. Another says the native tribes fought over the springs.
After soaking in the waters of the legendary healing springs - between days of deep powder skiing in the Monashees, the Selkirks, and the Kootenays - I buy the second legend. Anyone living in the area, in ancient times or recently, who came across the warm, clean water would hardly refer to it as evil.
Whatever legend you believe, the Halcyon Hot Springs have been a part of the fabric of Interior BC culture since before the first ski turn was ever made. The waters themselves, once science was able to detect such things, became known for having the highest lithium content of any natural spring. The mental and physical health benefits of lithium are now well understood. (The combined elixir of deep powder skiing and daily lithium baths has yet to be scientifically supported.)
The springs were first developed as a destination in the late 1800s by a steamboat captain named Robert Sanderson. Surprisingly, it wasn’t his navigational skills that led him to the springs, but rather his linguistic skills in the languages spoken by the native tribes. According to Milton Parent, who wrote a history on the hot springs, Sanderson spoke the dialect of various tribes and it was his close relationship with the First Nations people that resulted in them showing him the location of the springs.
Through the 19th century, the hot springs resort functioned intermittently as a party place, a sanitarium that prohibited alcohol and claimed efficacy at curing rheumatism and driving metallic poisons such as lead from the body. In modern times as a holiday retreat complete with private chalets (shown below in heavy snow), fine dining, and clean pools of different temperatures.
In the new millennium, the Halcyon Hot Springs has opened a new chapter - as a base area for CMH Heli-Skiing’s Nomads program. The private ski program, where a single group of skiers takes daily excursions into the legendary ski terrain of the Southern Monashees near CMH Revelstoke, the world-class technical skiing in the Selkirks of CMH Galena, and the famed tree skiing of CMH Kootenay.
Check out the Heli-Ski Blog for more photos and a glimpse into the CMH Nomads and the Halcyon Hot Springs utopia of private heliskiing in the deep powder of Revelstoke, BC.
Photos by Topher Donahue.