Don’t let that perfect blue sky fool you. We took a ridiculously cold (and quick!) snowshoe around Wedge Pond in Kananaskis Country on December 23. The snow was blowing from the tops of the peaks and the humidity in the air was literally (and I mean literally) breathtaking. Given the assault by Jack Frost, we weren’t even halfheartedly debating whether or not to cut the trip short…and then my hubby saw two wolves on another part of the trail. They were skittish and promptly vanished, but we suddenly got to worrying a bit (especially when the tree branches were cracking just so), and besides, there was hot chocolate and Irish Cream waiting at home.
I completely understand why this is considered one of the finest snowshoe treks in Kananaskis Country, in the Canadian Rockies. My hubby and I did this one a week ago, and we were fortunate to share this utterly incredible space with a few cheeky gray jays and a moose that gave our salt-flecked truck a helpful (!) scrub. 😉
This gnarled/gnarly (!) tree stump was posed dramatically in the middle of a massive rock slide area that we crossed on a recent hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake. If you find yourself with a few hours to kill in Kananaskis Country, this is the hike to do – it’s 16 kilometres of incredible scenery and diverse landscapes that are not to be missed. As a bonus, the elevation gains are minimal so if your knees are a muddled mess like mine, you can still nicely manage. And there are TWO waterfalls! Truly difficult to top.
Aaaaaaand then the stump got me thinking about gardening (well, pretty much everything does so that’s not a huge stretch)…and specifically, wildlife and naturescape gardens and stumperies. I haven’t seen too many designed/planted stumperies in the city, but there is a fantastic one at the Ellis Bird Farm in Lacombe, Alberta that wowed me when I saw it a few years ago. What are your thoughts on converting leftover (dead) tree parts to garden elements? Have you ever done it? If so, how did you go about creating your design?
I wonder how much soil is under that rock? I’m guessing, not much. And I’m not showing it in this photo, but there was snow clinging to the rocks just southeast of where I was standing. In July. This common willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum), a close relative of the (ahem!) even more common fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium*, also known as rosebay willowherb), is a mountain plant with heaps of beauty AND brawn.
*In another case of Nomenclature Gone Wild, fireweed was previously known as Epilobium angustifolium. I can’t yet find an explanation as to why the genus name was changed for this plant and not for common willowherb…but I’ll keep digging.
Well, I still haven’t finished unpacking from our move and I’ve been filling in a ton of hours for all of my vacationing co-workers on top of my regular shifts (which is why the unpacking isn’t progressing)…but some much-longed-for hiking in the mountains is finally happening this summer! My brother and my hubby and I recently did a short trek to Ptarmigan Cirque, in Kananaskis Country. My hubby and I had been up there twice before, and I am always awed by the scenery. This go-around, the water pools were dried up from the heat and the waterfall was a bit on the skinny side; we also missed the peak wildflower bloom, but the place simply cannot ever disappoint. This is an immensely rewarding short hike for families and anyone who doesn’t want to tackle a difficult trek. The challenging part is completed first thing: you’re in the Highwood Pass*, so you start out at an elevation of 2,206 metres (7,239 feet) and then climb up – very quickly, pretty much all in the first kilometre – to 2,414 metres (7,923 feet). It’s a bit hard to breathe up there, plus there’s all that exercise you’re doing…
…and then you get to see views like this. Breathtaking, indeed!
One of my favourite places in the Rockies! The diversity of plant life up there is incredible….
*Which has the distinction of being “the highest paved pass in Canada.” Meaning, there is a really good road up there, a highway that is open to traffic only six months of the year, to protect critical wildlife habitat. The rest of the time, we can snowshoe and ski on sections of it (see here and here).
Another hidden gem in Kananaskis…although the drive to get here and back took us about three hours from where we live in Calgary, this short hike (just under 4 kilometres round-trip) culminates in a special treat.