Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Barrier Lake and Highway 40 drivin'

It's been a crazy week here in my world, so it has taken me a while get these photos posted. I hate it when the real world gets in the way.

A couple of weeks ago I was still testing a digital camera, and I wound up playing hooky for the day and going for a drive in the mountains. The weather was just starting to turn nice after a *lot* of late season snow, and now when I look at the photos I can't believe they're only two weeks old....

Anyway, I drove west of the city and took the Kananaskis turnoff at Highway 40. The scenery changes from rolling foothills to the Rocky mountains in the blink of an eye. Only a few minutes and I was at Barrier Lake Dam. I think this is now one of my Favorite Places in the World:



It's so beautiful, but what's amazing is how much snow is still around compared to April of last year. Last year the ice shards from the lake were washing up on the beach and looked just fascinating.

From here I drove further south on Highway 40. It's so stunning there, sometimes it's tough to pay full attention to the road:



I pulled over at Nakiska, one of the ski hills used in the 1988 Olympics.



Right underneath the sign, I found these dried flowers from last season. They must have frozen while still in bloom (I don't remember an early frost, but the weather is a lot more severe out this way). They blended in perfectly with the dried grass, but still kept their form:



Highway 40 eventually goes through the Highwood Pass (at 2,227 meters/7310 feet, this is the highest paved pass in Canada), but the Pass is closed from mid-December to mid-June. I also wanted to make it out to Banff on this day, so I figured it was time to turn around. I found a particularly amazing spot where there were astounding views in all directions. I literally stood in one spot and snapped photos of what was around me.

South -- check out how white the snow at the top is... when clouds were nearby, you couldn't tell where the snow ended and the sky began:



East -- directly across the highway from me:



North -- the snow always looks so crisp against a deep blue sky:



West -- if there's a downside to being this deep in the mountains, it's that you don't see the bad weather until it's almost on top of you. This was another hint that it was time to get back to the Trans-Canada:



That said, it's no hardship to drive out.... amazing drive coming and going:



I'll continue the journey on my next post....

9 comments:

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Oh yes, you've got to love those mountains. There's something so primeval about them. I particularly love the Dolomites between Italy and Austria. They are spectacular with a capital S.
What a great drive you had.

Marvin said...

Great post with beautiful photos. Glad you took us along on your day of playing hooky. Someday I really must at least visit some real mountains.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

What stunning photos!!! Jeff has been to this area when he traveled as a kid with his parents. We both hope to visit there one day. Super post!!! The mountains are AWESOME!!! I can imagine the drive you had. :D Very spiritual.

Hugs, JJ

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Ah, your photos are stunning! I understand the bad weather that pulls up on top of you without warning. Happens often to me when I'm fly fishing these high alpine mountain lakes you talk about which makes it really interesting during lightning storms and you are out in the middle of the lake in a belly boat holding a nine foot flyrod as lightning rod! But as quick as these mountains storms come, the sun will come back just as fast and the sunshine is back!
Very nice post, Michelle.

Michelle said...

Suzanne, I've long wanted to travel more and see more ranges. I think we've got it pretty cool here, but there is so much variety out there.

Marvin, I still say you have real mountains... when you make your way up here, I'll arrange the tour!

JJ, spiritual is definitely the word! On a Monday afternoon it was dead silent, even right along the highway. You hike just ten minutes in and it's a whole other world. It's a must-see... in my humble opinion....

Michele, that is true, the weather around here changes quickly enough this time of year... and there's nothing worse than being on top of the mountain when that storm comes in.... ok, you're right, I think the boat and rod might be worse. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by!! More coming soon....

Pixel-Pixie said...

Michelle - fabulous photos! I particularly love the first photo in your post - wow!

I visited Canada recently - but on the other side - Nova Scotia, which I thought had a certain charm and some stunning sea views, but inland it was too flat for my liking. I missed being able to get up high and look out over the landscape. I'd love to western Canada...I've been in the American Rockies and in the Andes too (lucky me, I know...) but have yet to see Canada's towering beauties...it wonderful to be able to explore them through your photos....thanks...
Take care,
Tanya

Michelle said...

Hi Pixel-Pixie (*love* that name), I've never actually been to that end of the country, but I hear and see such good things. I'm with you though, I need mountains nearby. The Andes would be a fabulous trip -- I'm very jealous!

Thanks for stopping by...

Nydia said...

Your blog is fantastic, these high mountains look amazing... It must be great to hike around there! Thanks for your sweet words on my S post. I'll be back for more hiking "lessons". :)
Kisses from Nydia.

Michelle said...

Nydia, thank you so much. It's true, can't get enough hiking in the mountains. Looking forward to reading more on your blog...