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.
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.
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.
The result of a fun afternoon hike in Kananaskis my hubby and I did back in April. The peak in the foreground is Mt. Baldy, overlooking the amazing blue water of Barrier Lake. This is a great hike for beginners or parents with older kids (or experienced hikers who want to blaze through in a couple of hours or less). The only significant elevation change occurs shortly after you’ve hit the first lookout. While we encountered only three cyclists at this early date, Prairie View is apparently a popular mountain biking trek, so everyone has to share the trail during the peak season.