Snowshoeing West Bragg Creek: Snowshoe Hare.

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….

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Alberta snapshot: Forest Ecology Loop, Kananaskis.

Dashing through the…forest?

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There wasn’t much snow in some parts of Kananaskis Country this past weekend (judging by the cross-country ski reports from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, that wasn’t the case everywhere, although it sounds like it was pretty icy in spots).  My hubby and I could have easily hiked the Forest Ecology Loop near the University of Calgary Biogeoscience Institute but chose to snowshoe it, even though the snow was a little inconsistent.  This is just a short, super-easy jaunt (about 2.3 km including the connected Forest Loop) and I believe in the summertime you can pick up a pamphlet from the Barrier Lake Information Centre that offers interpretive information for the trail. This would be a really refreshing cool walk on a hot summer’s day – and I bet there are some great wildflower viewing opportunities in late spring.  We also had the unexpected chance to log in some history geocaches and learn about the area, which was the site of a P.O.W. internment camp during World War II.

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Snowshoeing trek: Troll Falls.

A couple of weekends ago, I had a rare Saturday off of work, so my hubby and I headed out to Kananaskis Country to snowshoe the popular, very short (3 km) trail to Troll Falls. We’ve been meaning to go out there in the summertime, but somehow never got around to it, and now I want to go back more than ever.  This is an easy trek on mostly flat terrain, and we were lucky that there was a defined path carved out (although the snow was so fluffy and light we could have easily broken our own trail).

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You can get very close to the falls, although there were a few other groups there and it’s rather tight quarters.  Apparently, there is another route through some rocks to a different vantage point, but we didn’t want to remove our ‘shoes and I had left the ice cleats back in the truck.  Definitely something to check out in the summer, though.  We noticed a climber getting ready to scale the rock face next to the falls – he was just getting the ascent underway as we left to allow another group to move in.

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It’s so early in the season that the falls weren’t completely frozen, and the water was rushing out behind the icy front.  Beautiful!

Alberta Snapshot: Kananaskis River.

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A view of the wide Kananaskis River from the Flowing Water Interpretive Trail in Bow Valley.  This is a really pleasant, short, and easy walk with some fantastic scenery and lots of wildflowers.  There’s even a beaver dam (but apparently the beavers were bunking down in their little log cabins out of the gloom on the day my hubby and I were there.  I would have liked to see some babies, but alas). The trailhead begins in Willowrock Campground and is well-marked and worn.  This is another good hike for young families – there is one section of wooden stairs, but they are not too steep.  The stairs would make it tricky for anyone with mobility issues, but the rest of the trail is accessible.

I’m always fascinated by place names – and as I’ve lived here in southern Alberta for several years, I was familiar with the idea that the word “Kananaskis” meant “meeting of the waters.”  But it turns out that’s an erroneous marketing gimmick – the real truth behind the name is actually far more fascinating and…well…bloody.  Check out the historical account here.

Have you ever come across any “tourist” information that wasn’t really true?  Isn’t it interesting how stories are altered over time (or depending on agenda)?

Many Springs hike.

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Rain threatened, but it was warmer during this hike than it looks in these photos!  Many Springs is a really short (1.3 km) and easy walk within the boundaries of Bow Valley Provincial Park, a wonderful place for spotting wildflowers and just enjoying the fantastic scenery.  It’s a great educational site (and would be ideal for anyone with young children), as there are interpretive signs throughout the loop that give some idea of the flora and fauna of the area and the “mystery” of the springs.  Hiking mid-week, in poor weather, meant we had the place to ourselves…ah, bliss!

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Have you done any wildflower hunting lately, or walked in a new (or favourite) spot?

Alberta Snapshot: Middle Lake, summertime.

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This is one of my favourite places to photograph:  Middle Lake, in Bow Valley Provincial Park.   I always love how moody this little pond appears, depending on the cloud cover – you can see another shot of it here, snapped when my hubby and I stopped there after an ice walk in February.   These particular photos were taken earlier this month, during a fun, but rather wet camping trip in the Park.  We tent, so rainy conditions are always a bit of a challenge.  It’s really the clean up afterwards that doesn’t hold any appeal for me – we don’t have a balcony or deck attached to our suite, so I usually end up drying the tent in the shower, which means for the next few days, I’m scrubbing tag along spiders and beetles and other assorted creatures off of the walls and ceiling.  Okay, that’s a lie – it’s more like I stand as far away as possible (another room, preferably) and point nebulously and scream hysterically while my husband cleans up the wayward travellers.   😉

Apparently the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of a truckload of teenagers, who stopped to take a swim in the cold water as we were leaving the parking lot.  The lake is a bit sludgy and wouldn’t be my first choice as a swimming hole, but the nearby Bow River was running too fast for a safe dip.  According to interpretive signs, Middle Lake is shrinking every year and will eventually dry up to become part of the meadow surrounding it.

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My brother spotted this impressive old specimen of a balsam fir just off the beaten path.  Wonder just how long it’s been since it was a seed?

Snowshoeing at Hogarth Lakes.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit too cold (understatement) and mostly too busy (also an understatement) to head out to the mountains and strap on the snowshoes – but here’s a look back at a trip my hubby and I took in January.  We’d never been out to Hogarth Lakes before, so the scenery was a real treat for us, even if the skies were grey and snow fell the whole time.  It’s a sheltered spot and there was very little wind (yay!), except for a massive gust at one point when we rounded a corner and the trees blasted powdery flakes down on top of us.

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Hogarth Lakes is a hiking/snowshoeing loop in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, in Kananaskis, Alberta.   We got there by driving south on the Smith-Dorrien Road from Canmore until we reached the Burstall Pass trailhead – the road was in surprisingly good condition that day, considering the snowfall.  Even so, we were reassured by the sight of a snowplough as we headed up towards the parking lot.  Mountain roads…not to be trifled with!

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This short (4.4 km) loop is relatively flat and great for beginners – it would be one families could take their younger children out on, especially if the trail is packed down.  We found a bunch of side trails that looked like fun, but we stuck to the main loop, especially after we were warned by a group who had stopped for refreshments that they had noticed some open water on one of the side trails they took.  Better not to risk it, especially as we aren’t familiar with the landscape.

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Here are a couple of shots of the Spray Lakes Reservoir near Canmore.  I took these photos on our trip back into town after snowshoeing.  You can see the sun had briefly emerged – of course!  🙂

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I would love to see the Lakes in other seasons as well – I’m looking forward to heading out there again.  We’ll definitely be back with the snowshoes!

You can find a link to a map of the Hogarth Lakes Loop here.

Another account of an excursion to Hogarth Lakes can be found by clicking the link in Hiking With Barry’s post 5 Great Snowshoe Trips – Kananaskis.