Friday, August 28, 2009

Chester Lake -- November 9, 2008

Chester Lake is very popular among winter sports enthusiasts in no small part because its location deep in Kananaskis Country provides some of the best and deepest early snow, as well as snow far into spring. The area gets enough snow to rival some snow resorts!

It's also extremely popular for families in the summer, and while Nat and I have hiked the area, we'd never completed the Chester Lake hike. We were going to change that today.

Upon our early moving arrival, we saw were far from alone in the big parking lot. Someone else had already moved through:

(That is one long stride between moose prints!)

View from the parking lot, deep in the mountains...

At the time, this was more snow than on any other trail that winter. It wouldn't stay that way for long.

View from the trail.

Once we got about 1 km into the trail, there was plenty of snow to be found.

The trail is a steady, but not strenuous uphill for some time, then flattens out into a meadow. At this meadow, you get only a glimpse of what is to come:

The trail makes a slight turn and you can look all the way down to the mountain at the end. I love how for a short while, the trail aligns directly with the mountain's ridges.

The trail leads through another set of trees and then bursts into another meadow surrounded by magnificent rocky mountains. Despite the view of the mountains on the way up, nothing really prepares you for the magnitude of the view:

Looking west:

Sun climbing over the mountain:

Chester Lake (somewhere under all this snow):

Looking back from where we came:

The trail was strangely absent of critters, but we did run into this little fella:

He'd run away from us down the trail, which was somewhat counter-intuitive, since we'd just scare him again a minute later. Eventually the trail took a turn, and we said good to Chester Lake and headed back to the parking lot...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yamnuska -- November 1, 2008

I'll always be drawn to Yamnuska. It was the first true mountain I hiked, and nothing will ever match the first time I was able to touch that distinctive rockface. It greets me every time I drive down Highway 1 into the Rockies, and it stands as the instantly recognizable gateway to miles of jagged peaks.

When I went to summer camp as a pre-teen, Yamnuska loomed over our teepee and was the source of many stories told to young ears. Yamnuska was the namesake of the related winter camp.

Yamnuska looks out over the prairies as much as it looks out over the Rockies:

From this angle, everyone sees the heart-shaped pond:

Yamnuska's rock face, always present, always the goal on the trail.

Away from the highway -- unspoiled by roads, trails or any signs of humans:

On this journey we went beyond the usual end of the trail at the rock face and found the path leading to the top of the rock face. It was too late in the day to continue to ascend, but now that we know where it is -- tucked among the boulders, we'll be back:

It's been a part of my life since I've been aware of the Rockies. I'm looking forward to finding another side of Yamnuska.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ford Knoll -- October 26, 2008

Ford Knoll is an old favorite. I've covered it many times here before, but the scenery changes so much with each season. Fall was no different:

Luckily, we knew this sign had been here since the previous winter... however there's got to be cause for concern when a warning sign appears to have been clawed away. And yes, we kept an eye out for "ears" the rest of the hike: