I don’t recall such a snowy February here in Calgary…we’ve definitely got good snowshoeing weather at the moment. The thing is, the risk of avalanches in the mountains is massive right now and sticking to safe terrain is crucial. Fullerton Loop, outside of Bragg Creek, fits the bill perfectly: it’s a no-risk snowshoe trek, fast and easy and short (just over 6 kilometres). It’s fairly heavily trafficked right now, so if you don’t have snowshoes, you can simply hike it (and at this very moment, you probably don’t need microspikes).
We headed out there last Sunday morning and it snowed the whole time; in fact, Highway 66 wasn’t even ploughed when we arrived at the trailhead, beating the crowds that arrived later in the day. For us, it was snow…trees…quiet. Blissful.
Well, we couldn’t be faulted for trying. We had the snowshoes with us yesterday, but the trails at West Bragg Creek are only just snow-covered and heavily compacted by foot and fat bike traffic. We had a lovely hike instead, despite the crazy high (but warm!) winds – in this shot, it looks pretty peaceful, actually. You don’t see the snow spiraling up off the ground or the ice crystals that blasted us (or the fact that I could barely stand upright enough to keep the horizon from wobbling in my viewfinder). Gotta love the weather in Alberta!
Well, at that altitude anyway (2,437 m/7,995 ft). My hubby and I hiked up to the top of Moose Mountain in Kananaskis Country a couple of weekends ago. I should say, “almost” the top – you can’t actually completely summit the mountain as it is home to a fire lookout and it would be impolite to invade the privacy of the personnel stationed there. We got to a few feet away, and sat atop the heli-pad to enjoy the absolutely incredible views. “On a clear day you can see forever…”.
A couple of snaps from a snowshoeing trek on a Chinook-cloudy, balmy day in West Bragg Creek two weeks ago. The Snowshoe Hare loop is about 5.5 kilometers long, quite hilly, and treed nearly the entire way. It’s not quite as scenic as the nearby Snowy Owl trail (which we snowshoed last year), but it’s a bit more of a workout. There wasn’t much snow out there at the time, and the trail was pretty compacted from the heat and the traffic. Wandering around out there that day, it rather felt like spring was near….
I’m not sure what happened this winter, but while the rest of the country was buried in the white stuff for months on end, here in southern Alberta, it’s been largely snow-free and very (scarily) warm. (Those of you in the snowy regions all have my sympathies – we’ve had horribly cold and snow-filled winters the past few years so I know what you’re going through and I’m not wanting to rub salt in the wound). Not certain what this will mean for the upcoming gardening season, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. The snow is good for so many reasons….
Snowshoeing is one of them, and because of the balmy weather and general “busyness,” my hubby and I got out exactly once.
We tried the new Snowy Owl loop at West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Area on a Tuesday afternoon in late December – the parking lot was insanely busy and we had to create our own “stall,” but most of the crowd were there to cross country ski on the groomed trails or to walk their dogs. (This is a pet friendly rec zone – you can even take your dogs skiing if you like). Even though snowshoeing is definitely increasing in popularity, we only saw a couple of other groups on our excursion. What I liked best about this trip was the varied terrain – sometimes we were in an open meadow, other times, deep woods. One part of the loop is over a logged area, so your shoes and poles can take a bit of a beating on tree stumps if there isn’t a decent base of snow – but in a “normal” year, that wouldn’t be a problem.
Great scenery and lots of trail options to explore (next year, I guess!).
Do you ski or snowshoe or any other “snow” activities?
Still standing…even when the chips are down! (Which is rather punny, given that my hubby and I came across this mostly-defoliated specimen in a logged area in Bragg Creek, Alberta). 😉
I think a lot of people in the province are coming off of a week of “bad hair days”…perhaps it has something to do with the ever-changing weather and the constant “tuque-on, tuque-off”* activity or the hair-raisingly icy and snowy road conditions. I’m good with the sunshine and brilliant blue sky that showed up in the south today – that can stay! Here’s to a new week of “Good Hair Days!”
What are your favourite comforts when you’re having one of those days?
A late-day shot of the beautiful pond in the shadow of Forgetmenot Mountain, near Bragg Creek, Alberta.
This cheeky gray jay (whiskey jack) was out with his buddies, buzzing daringly near my hubby and I, looking for handouts. The pond is a popular picnic site and fishing hole during the summer, so the birds are used to getting “people” food. I know they don’t migrate south for the winter, but I had to look up their cold-weather diet: like their Corvidae relatives magpies and crows, they’ll eat pretty much anything from fruit to carrion, and they’ll even cache food in trees (actually, “on” trees is more accurate, as they apparently glue their food to tree branches using their saliva). Interesting little guys. I find them so entertaining to watch.