It feels funny to be writing about May as we're just a week from Canadian Thanksgiving, but that's what happens when you fall behind in posting. ;-)
D and I took a drive out to the Kananaskis area via Highway 40 to check out Barrier Lake. The late thaw meant there had been plenty of snow in the area just a couple of weeks prior, but with the nice weather finally settling in, I wanted to see how the area looked (in other words, were we looking at a mud bath).
On the way there, I asked D to pull into Canoe Meadows, a pretty area just off Highway 40 that serves as a day-use area and boat launch. Good thing we did! The Alberta Slalom Canoe Kayak team were holding their junior and senior qualifying races:
The course is built right into the canyon walls, and watching the kayakers.... I have a new respect for their athleticism. Some of the gates required the kayaker to slam on the brakes, turn the boat against the current and go through the gate that way.. sometimes right into rocks!
While we were watching, a nice gentleman from the Kayaking organization started chatting with us and filled us on the teams and competitors. Some of these kayakers -- they were 12 or 13 years old!
We were right above gate 18 -- the gate that required the athlete to ride over a rapid, stop short, turn around, kayak upstream through the gate towards a huge set of rocks and then continue down the course. I took a few photos of one kayaker's trip through gate 18:
Amazing. I'd be too busy trying to keep myself upright to worry about which direction I was going -- never mind the gates and rocks!
We headed downhill to the river side -- here's a nice look at what the competitor sees:
Another tricky gate:
We walked along the shore of the river around a bend to where the starting line was. It looked like judging would be a fun but lonely job:
Another particularly scary looking gate, near the beginning of the course:
Again, the kayakers had to go past the gate, turn around and go through the gate against the current (and into a pile of rocks under the "falls"). My arms ache just thinking about it.
The scene further down the river was much more to my liking....
While it wasn't a hike in the traditional sense, we had a lot of fun poking around Canoe Meadows and Kananaskis River... but there was more hiking to be had.