I tried to stop her, but to no avail. Sarah insisted on dragging out the christmas tree this afternoon and beginning the festive season. With the temperatures outdoors reaching a high of -25 there was little to do but join in and then grab a few pics to share, click any image for a larger version.
With the weather promising -20's in the mountains again later this week I headed out today to see if I could get a summit in before the second big chill of the year. I opted for the Elbow Valley because in just one weeks time it will be closed off for the winter. It's hard to know how to feel when the winter gates are closed, on the one hand the wildlife needs some seclusion to facilitate hibernation, but on the other hand we lose a massive playground (which is on our doorstep) for 6 months.
So, my choice was to revisit Forgetmenot Ridge. At 12km (7.5 miles) to the impressive cairn and back, with 653m (2142 feet) of steep ascent its a good workout. On previous visits I have extended further along the ridge but today was absolutely freezing, it's rare to see me in the balaclava, and unheard of to see me with my hood up without rain. Yet here I am, balaclava on and hood over the top during a fleeting 2 minute visit to the summit cairn today.
The temperatures were actually pretty good at around -6 but the wind was howling at 50-70 kph (30- 45 mph) and sweeping across the rounded ridgetop, it really was bloody cold and I took a few shots quickly and headed down again stopping in the cover of the forest for lunch. As I've made this hike a number of times now I kept the camera in the bag for the most part but grabbed a few shots for the blog. Click any image for larger versions.
I had a fine hike with Cecil today up to the site of the old Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout in Kananaskis, we hiked in via Troll Falls making a nice 14km circuit out and back. As we drove away from the car park and passed over the river we had to stop and capture some shots of the incredible sunset that closed out a wonderful day in the mountains.
A nice little stag drifting by this afternoon, he didn't stay long but long enough for me to grab a few photo's.
With the temperatures climbing into positive numbers this afternoon (2 degrees) I took myself out to the Elbow Valley for a quick 3 hour hike up and down Prairie Mountain. It's a nice local mountain that I summit frequently and every time I do I remember just how bloody steep it is right before the summit ridge. With about 750m (2460 feet) of ascent over 7.5 km (4.6 miles) it seems innocuous enough but it is a good grunt to the impressive summit cairn. Ice on the trail kept things interesting until reaching the wonderful views over the Elbow Valley and I was pleased to see the old battered flag replaced with a new one, it adds a lovely touch of colour to the scene. Click images below for larger captioned versions.
After seeing my shots from Troll Falls on Thursday Sarah was keen to be out to the mountains so what better place to go than back to the falls to share those incredible ice formations. Temperatures had risen sharply and it was only -6 as we got suited and booted in the car park for the short hike to the falls. I'm pretty sure Sarah got better shots than I did this time, click the gallery below for captioned versions and decide for yourselves.
This weekend promised some great aurora but the cloud has prevented any view of the night sky until tonight, for just a short time a break in the cloud allowed me to grab a few shots. Not the best display but always beautiful to see. With temperatures at -20 I didn't stay long on the balcony but as I went back into the house I had my fingers crossed for tomorrow when the sky should be clear and the aurora still present....here's hoping.
With temperatures struggling to get above -20 this week I thought I would make the short hike to Troll Falls and see if it had frozen, I was not disappointed. Troll Falls is an easy wander in any conditions and I took the microspikes so I could explore fully, after wandering around and through the falls I circled around the rockwall and got out above them though there is little reward for that additional effort. The gallery below shows images from the route to, around and above the falls. Click any small image for the larger slideshow.
A good lump of this week has been stolen by doctors, dentists and poor weather but I managed to get out to stretch the legs today. I made the short journey to the Elbow Valley and spent some time just exploring along the river. I found some nice scrambling and messed around with some long exposures that would have been better with a tripod. As always, click a small image below for larger captioned versions.
We arrived in Calgary, Canada on 29th December 2011 to continue our journey. This blog is intended to keep our family and friends informed whilst we explore Canada.You can use the RSS feed below to stay updated.
The Shaman, West Texas