It’s a hair-raising hoot for the hirsute. Zora Regulić finds blondes have all the fun when Takhini Hot Springs hosts one of the world’s most unusual pageants.
It’s late August in the Yukon, Canada, the temperature is a beautiful 20º celsius and I’m about to immerse myself in the warm waters of the Takhini Hot Springs. Before I even step though the pool foyer, the earworm strikes – let it goooooo, let it goooooo. It’s the song from the Disney film Frozen.
You see, I had been reading up about these hot springs and every February they hold the International Hair Freezing Competition to see who can come up with the most inventive frozen hairdo. At -20º Celsius you are guaranteed to see some creative masterpieces; the hairier you are, the better, as everything freezes from the shoulders up. Eyelashes, eyebrows, beards, even nose hairs – Sasquatch would be a clear winner in these parts.
It’s not as simple as you may think. Just ducking under the water and emerging with a Instagram-worthy frozen hair flip doesn’t work. It’s a combination of wet hair, steam from the pool and the cold outside temperatures, taking about 15 minutes to sculpt your slowly freezing hair into a magnificent masterpiece. They are works of art, quickly photographed and then splash, gone, as the contestants dip their heads back under the water to regain some feeling in their upper torso.
Prior to 1899, the springs were used by the Ta’an Kwach’an First Nations people and over the years a myriad of people have enjoyed bathing in the warm waters. The sign at the entrance tells me that the water is high in calcium, magnesium and iron. I’m not sure what the health benefits are but am willing to find out. I poke my toe in the water, it’s like a bath – a very warm bath at 42ºC. No time to waste, get on in there, I tell myself. I slide into the water and instantly feel relaxed; being surrounded by forest with a view of the nearby mountains adds to the tranquility of the setting. The pool has a wall dividing it into two, so if you start to glisten on your forehead while you are in the warmer side, swim-through swing gates enable you head to the cooler side (36ºC) without exiting the pool – a great idea when the temperature drops to below freezing.
Hours pass like minutes and I exit the pool with fingers that resemble prunes. Back on the Arctic Range Adventures bus, I’m in a dozy languor, unable to utter a word to my companions. How on earth am I going to even get off the bus at our hotel. I manage, though, when I see the sign at the local café announcing it has lavender and lemon locally brewed radler. This sounds medicinal, I think, I may as well finish the day off with a herbal tonic or two. The rest is another story. Cheers. TTW