Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hangin' Tough

This post has become a victim of my own lack of proper research. I'm removing both the link and my original comments because I just don't enjoy stories of this type and don't want to pass it along -- there are enough wildlife stories with unhappy endings in the daily newspaper.

Thanks to Marvin for pointing out my mistake.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fullerton Loop - February 17, 2008

A friend we encountered along the trail:

(Not bad for a cell phone photo, hey?)

Hiking was glorious this weekend. It was a long weekend here in Alberta and the warm weather had blown in, making this more like an early spring hike than a mid-February one.

If there's a greater weather phenomenon than the Chinook, I don't know what it is...

Question for the masses: Is "Chinook" (as a weather term) commonly known outside the Alberta region, or am I just speaking in tongues?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Heart Creek -- February 10, 2008

Sure, Heart Creek is only a 2.5km stroll one-way, but load it with at least a foot of snow and a cold day and it becomes a choice hike for a casual Sunday.

It was rumored the temperature was going to hit plus 4 in this part of the mountains, but it wasn't anywhere close to that when N and I got to the trailhead near Lac des Arcs. Thankfully there was little wind, but we bundled up and hit the trail, which for the first 20 minutes or so runs excitingly along the Trans-Canada highway, has a few inclines and views, and plenty of snow:

However, once it turns along the creek and into the canyon, everything changes for the better: the highway was left behind, the trail became a lot quieter and within a couple of minutes, the temperature seemed to jump by at least 5 degrees. Or that could have been from 20 minutes of shuffling through mid-calf deep snow (at times).

We encountered these ice climbers about 2/3s of the way through the hike -- the only other people we would see on the trail that day:

Heart Creek has lots of bridge crossings -- I believe the trail crosses the creek 7 times -- and the deeper we went into the canyon, the more creek was exposed, with the snow melting away and the clean, crisp (and probably very cold) water running underneath:

It's a short hike, but it was a nice wintery change from the usual winter hiking and still gave us some good exercise and great photos.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Alberta's Land Use Plan - How To Get Involved

With the provincial election ramping up and the overdue land use agreement still in the works, there is no better time for hikers, cyclists and other recreational enthusiasts to educate themselves on the issues surrounding the areas we love to play in.

The Calgary Sun has an excellent look at the logging that is running practically unchecked in the West Kananaskis area in their piece City's playground faces trying time. Calgary MLA Dr. David Swann makes some surprising and disturbing comments about the province's logging plan.

CPAWS Calgary has also put together an excellent resource for Alberta voters to help each Albertan research the environmental issues and vote as green as possible. Make sure to stop by My Vote Is For The Environment. There's a lot of information to wade through here, but it's a real eye-opener.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Outdoor activities on the decline

Found this fascinating article on Canoe.ca the other day: Video games replacing outdoor activity.

The Nature Conservatory funded a study on outdoor activity and found some startling numbers about camping, fishing, hiking and hunting in many countries around the world, not including Canada.

It was discovered - particularly in the US - that outdoor activities are in a sharp decline, most notable camping and fishing. Day hiking was up, but only because the study found many campers had switched to day hiking.

The decline appears to have started sometime in the 80s and 90s - as video games and the internet were rising in popularity and appeal.

The article also mentions that along with a decline in outdoor activities comes a lack of interest in environmental issues, nature conservation and preservation of public land space (something we might already be seeing in California?).

The reason why this is so interesting to me is that in Canada -- in my part of Canada anyway -- outdoor recreation seems to be skyrocketing. Sure, Alberta has had an influx of people over the past few years, but many of them seem to be adopting the outdoor lifestyle that is so popular here, leading to the need for new land use regulations.

I'd be curious to know if the rest of Canada follows this trend we see in Alberta.