With the sun shining again Sarah and I headed off to our favourite place for the afternoon, Upper Kananaskis Lake. This simply stunning lake has been our favourite place since we found it 3 years ago and I suspect it will stay that way. There are dozens of different hikes here, several other lakes, high mountain meadows, wildlife and even fishing. Today the water has been drastically lowered whilst they do some work on the outlet (which provides hydroelectricity to the Alberta grid) The lower waters meant we could walk along the isthmus trail for 3km before dropping down to the lake and walking back on the shore. As always when Sarah comes along we had a picnic, which meant sharing with the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels that live by the lake. We had a fantastic day driving home via Ghost Lake to avoid the heavy traffic on the TransCanada Highway. Click smaller images for captioned gallery.
I've had a couple of local spins on my bike since the start of spring but today I decided to get back to the mountains for my first 'real' bike ride of the year. I picked the Little Elbow Trail because it's close to home, has few people during the week, it's longer than I would need on my first outing and most of all because it's beautiful.
The floods of 2013 have left their mark on the place, not least of which is the bridge that previously spanned the Elbow River at the 6km mark is missing entirely. I actually thought it would be back up by now but as it isn't I enjoyed a couple of freezing paddling sessions, which were more than welcome in the heat of the afternoon. I made a 30km 'out and back' ride with a little over 1000 feet of ascent and really enjoyed myself.
Below is a gallery of shots I took along the way including one of my epic paddle which required me to set the camera, paddle across, return for the camera and then return to the bike, with my initial crossing it made 4 lots of splashing about; it was like being a kid again.
Cecil and I are running out of time to wander the Canadian wilderness together (he will be leaving for a couple of years very soon) So we seized the opportunity to go back to Nihahi Ridge and grab some shots from the higher levels as our last visit here was a white out with a blizzard blowing up and killing the scene. Today conditions were perfect and we made the 11 km round trip in t-shirts discussing the finer points of life along the way. There are no captions with the shots below but click for a larger slideshow as usual.
I got out for another hike today having decided I really need to get more in this year. I opted for the Opal Ridge along highway 40 in Kananaskis, it's a good grunt to 8500 feet but worth every step. As a bonus I also saw my first Grizzly of the year though at some distance so the pic I took is hardly worth it. As always I've added a few shots from the hike below or you can click here for the full story and pics.
Every year as winter approaches a gate is closed across Highway 66 (The Elbow Valley Trail) at Elbow Falls and it remains closed off (for hibernating critters) until early May. It's always nice to go down there when it re-opens and this weekend was the opening date so Sarah and I packed a picnic and made the short drive from home to revisit this beautiful part of the foothills. We made a comfortable 10km hike to Nihahi Creek and explored the huge three stepped waterfall there which was dry and provided a perfect picnic spot. As always click small images below for larger gallery.
When my good friend Cecil told me he'd come across some baby owls inside city limits I suggested we go down there with camera gear and seize the moment. I knew Cecil would be up for it and I'm so glad he was, not just for the pictures but for the opportunity to stand so close to these beautiful creatures for a good 30 minutes or more, even the rain couldn't dampen our spirits.Click gallery below for larger images.
We have often heard a single coyote howling outside since we moved into our new house in Cochrane but we hadn't actually seen him until tonight. As we sat having dinner he crept out of the trees and into the open, for a fleeting moment before scooting back in again :)
My exploration of the South Ghost Wilderness continued yesterday with a great hike up to the abandoned fire lookout tower on Black Rock Mountain. At 8080 feet the views were spectacular and the lookout itself was so perfect it almost felt like an art installation, I've included a gallery with a few shots below or you can click here for the full hike and photos.
About a week ago Cecil and I did a circuit of 11 km down at West Bragg Creek which is very close to home, I returned today to do the same circuit again. It's not the most scenic of hikes but it's easy going and makes a nice little route for maintaining some level of fitness. I stopped by the beaver pond to check in on the Canada Goose that was nesting there and all seems well.......so, just another day in paradise :)
My exploration of the South Ghost continued today with a lovely 15.4 km (9.5 miles) hike through Devils Gap to the eastern most end of Lake Minnewanka. It was a late start for Cecil and I as we set out from the trailhead around 12:30pm, the journey to the trailhead is over very difficult terrain and 4x4 with high clearance is a must.
We made our way along heavily forested trails past dried out lakes in glorious sunshine and whilst wildlife was scarce the views made up for their absence. The valley is squeezed from the north by Mt Costigan and from the south by Saddle Peak and once we reached the east end of Minnewanka a snow capped Mt Girouard filled the distant horizon. After talking to 3 young guys from Edmonton who were camping further along the lake we hung out on a large rock and had lunch then skimmed a few rocks before heading for home back along the same trail. We were late home but it was worth it. Click any small image below for a larger captioned gallery.
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