Rawson Lake - Spring
Date Walked: 14th March 2012
Distance: 5.1 miles (8.3km)
Actual Ascent: 1108 ft (338m)
Time Taken: 3.5 hours
With over a week of thawing I opted to head deeper into the mountains in an effort to find a hike up a significant hill. My hope was that the snow may have eased enough to allow a decent ascent. Long before I even turned off highway 1 (the Trans Canada Highway) I could see that the mountains were wearing a fresh cloak of white and any thoughts of serious ascent were shelved. Remembering a stunning little lake I had read in my Kananaskis guide I turned onto Highway 40 and headed south to Upper Kananaskis Lake, little did I know just how much snow had fallen. Even the ploughs were struggling as I picked my way along the Kananaskis Lakes Trail toward the parking area.
Turning toward the car park for Upper Kananaskis Lake (where the ploughs had not yet reached) my truck was actually scraping a trail and bulldozing snow in the front, as I looked ahead the drifts were incredible and I opted to reverse out and park at the turning point and walk in.
the drifts along the entrance road did add to the scene as the sky cleared away the early morning cloud, fortunately there were snowshoe trails heading in so at least I didn't have to break the trail (which is always much more strenuous)
On reaching the trailhead at the car park and toilet block I actually laughed to myself and shook my head looking at the incredible drifts engulfing the building......I was glad I hadn't kept bulldozing my way in.
It was strange to walk up the steep bank at the trailhead and be almost at the level of the toilet block roof but it did provide a nice view out across the lake
once under way on the trail 'proper' the going was pretty good (in snowshoes) and I made good time along the lake side
I was left feeling a little uncomfortable when crossing the lake inlet as a huge melted hole showed the water running by below, though it's not deep I didn't fancy dropping in it all the same
once the trail breaks away from the lake and begins to ascend it does so steeply and gets the lungs working
the route up through the forest is beautiful with every branch on every tree covered with snow and my breath hangs in the air like mist as it billows out in increasing amounts as I ascend
fortunately, though it is a steep ascent it is also relatively short and the trail eventually levels out and I get a glimpse of the mountains ahead
stepping out of the trees provides a stunning view of a huge amphitheatre, where I meet three fellow Calgarians admiring the view and packing their kit away ready for the descent. I thank them for breaking the trail and we discuss the snow, apparently the forecast says there will be several more feet of snow in the mountains over the next 5 days.
I have my tracker bar out for all of 10 seconds before the Whiskey Jacks are loitering around reminding me that they have little to eat in the deep snow conditions, so we share my first bar then they eat the second entirely. It is wonderful to have these little creatures resting on my hands without a care.
across the lake is a further ascent around the back of the trees and up to the Col between two of the mountains, I decide to leave my bag hanging and go take a look, the view from there is supposed to be spectacular. The photo below shows a little of what happened next........I set off across the lake and was making headway when a sizeable avalanche poured down the face of the mountains at the end of the lake, as I stood admiring the cascade I noticed a 'wave' moving across the lake toward me, I actually went a bit 'startled rabbit' for a moment and set off to the right, then left before realising back was my best bet, as I turned to run back the ice beneath me raised me up in the air and dropped down again, I kept running even though it was now passed and reached the bank shaking like a jack-hammer. After gathering myself I decided the best option was to circle the lake, then sense hit me and I twigged that I would have to cross the avalanche zone to get to the Col.......I turned back....I had kind of lost heart anyway, going up mountains in winter....who needs it.
I went back to my bag and the Whiskey Jacks where I sat for quite a while looking back across the lake, it was absolutely stunning but also absolutely lethal
I took a wander around the lake outlet and tried in vain to find the woodpecker that kept tap-tap-tapping nearby
I take one last look around at this beautiful little lake before heading back down through the snow drenched forest
I bounded down the trail cutting corners and really enjoying the descent through untrodden snow and found myself back at the side of Kananaskis Lake in no time at all, my previous panic was well settled and I took a steady wander back along the trail to the truck.
the snow plough had made its rounds when I got back to the truck so once changed and ready for the off I took a drive round the car park to show the depth of the snow there.
this is an absolutely stunning location and one I'll be returning to when the snow has eventually thawed, this time I'll be bringing Sarah and a picnic and staying off the lake ; )