Friday, November 27, 2009

Finding Farley finishes first at Banff Mountain Film Fest

Finding Farley is an amazing story from so many perspectives -- outdoors, history, literary, filmmaking, Canadiana, the list goes on. I was delighted to read the documentary took top prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

The documentary follows husband and wife Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison, their toddler and dog as they canoe, hike and sail from their home in Canmore, Alberta to the home of author Farley Mowat in Nova Scotia, tracing the very steps the author had taken many years ago.

Heuer is also the author of "Being Caribou", a book about tracking caribou in their threatened habitat in Northern Canada and Alaska that has received rave reviews from conservationists and scientists alike.

From a personal perspective, I remember reading a piece in the (always great) Rocky Mountain Outlook when Heuer and Allison began their journey and getting chills at the mere thought of it. I read a piece in Canadian Geographic that included a photo of the couple carrying their canoe through downtown Calgary (making a stop as they canoed down the Bow River that skirts the downtown core's edge), only blocks from my old office.

It's extremely nice to see this effort com full circle -- Allison is the filmmaker of the award winning documentary. I can't imagine what this amazing couple will do next!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lower Kananaskis Lake - February 28, 2009

Not wanting limit our snowshoeing treks to only Highway 40, Dave and I decided to try a short but hopefully scenic route along the Lower Kananaskis Lake. This trail is also located in that deep snow haven, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

Trailhead. Oh yeah, we made the right call:

The trailhead sign marker and map were almost overcome by snow... it's easy to see why this is such a favorite area for winter sports:


Eventually the trail leads along the lake for a nice leisurely look at all the frozen water out there:

It was a pleasant winter day -- it was easy to see there had been a lot of warming and cooling. Many of the trees along the lake had mini icicles dangling from them.... almost like nature's Christmas decorations:

The loop turned around in a small meadow right off the highway... one lone snow-shoer among all that scenery:

Heading back along the lake's edge, we could see the impact of the thawing and freezing cycle on the lake... bigger blocks of ice were being pushed right up onto the banks:

We couldn't have asked for a better winter day. We'll be back.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Highway 40 -- February 22, 2009

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is a cross-country skier's destination in winter, but us snowshoers can sneak in a trail or two as well. It's less than courteous to snowshoe in the tracks laid down for the skiers, so a few trails have been set aside for us mere snowshoers.

Sometimes even the closed and gated Highway 40 will do.

Highway is closed 6 months out of the year. While most other highways in the area re-open mid-May, we need to wait until June to access sites like Highwood Pass. When you see the amount of snow still there at the end of June you understand why the highway is closed half the year.

Looking back toward the closed highway:

Snowshoeing along the highway lets you take a good look at the scenery you zip past in the summer:

Turning onto a side road:


Heading back to the car:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fenland Trail -- February 16, 2009

Fenland Trail in February. Fenland is little more than a pleasant walk, but it's a great trail for when the winter has been dragging on too long and you hope for signs of warming weather.

Spring was still a long way off, but the firm hold of winter was starting to loosen in small ways. The layers of the ice from months of varying temperatures were starting to show through...

... the trail was worn through, down to the dirt in many places....

... and finding a nice place to sit along the Bow didn't seem like such an icy proposition....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Snowshoeing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (RED trail) - February 8, 2009

First time snowshoeing since our guided tour in Kimberley, BC a couple of weeks prior. Path finding is so much different in snow, especially for random snowshoe trails, but it was worth it:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rawson Lake -- January 18, 2009

Rawson Lake at the height of winter. Another one of those hikes I'd heard so much about, but never got around to doing thanks to the crowds in the summer, long drive, whatever other reasoning I could think of.

This was where Nat and I had attempted a few weeks back as we hiked along Upper Kananaskis Lake and were turned back by treacherous ice on the trail.

Hopefully in the thick of winter, there would be a lot more snow, a lot less ice.

We couldn't have been more right.

Even the day started better -- clear blue skies and a calm day, unlike our previous journey. The lake looked a lot more inviting -- even when snow-covered:

A recent frost gave everything a "fuzzy" look. Most fascinating was this lakeside bench:

The lake has long since frozen over, however, chunks of ice were pushing out of the lake. Like this beast, a lot of them had this amazing blue tinge:

Some parts never freeze over.... and the view of the Rockies was superb.

The path eventually turns away from the lake and into the forest. Neither Nat or I had ever hiked this trail before, but it seemed like not only we were getting higher.... then snow was getting that much deeper. This fallen tree was a thick, mature tree when it fell... and its trunk is still dwarfed by the snow covering it:

Only as we approached Rawson Lake did we get an idea of how deep the snow was. This fishing sign would normally stand at about chest height of the average man:

Off trail, the snow was deep, but very very loose, unlike the heavy packed snow on the trail. I stuck my poles into the snow to take a photo of the lake, only to have them sink almost all the way in:

Worth it:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sundance Canyon -- January 10, 2009

Another beautiful hike to Sundance Canyon, this time deep in winter. Unbelievably, here in Banff the snow at the trail head wasn't deep enough to support cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, but it was just enough for a pleasant winter hike.

Closer to the canyon itself, these low bushes with the leaves still attached made for a contrast with the rest of the forest floor:

The snow was a little deeper at the canyon mouth, nice for the cross-country skiers who made the trek. I liked the look of this single track to the lonely, snow-covered picnic table...

So perfect you'd almost think the snow was photoshopped! It's strange that the only place I see any reference to miles is on old Park signs (which look so much nicer than the metal ones).

Mouth of the canyon... you can see the water swamped up around the trees on the right side of the photo, then promptly froze around the trunks...

A look up the canyon to the viewpoint/bridge..

A couple of trees had small ice crystal frozen to them, they were scattered all over the trees like nature's little decorations. This close-up didn't turn out like I'd hoped, but it's still cool to look at:

A little colour in the forest beyond the usual green and white!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chester Lake -- November 29, 2008

Sometimes the overcast days are more interesting than the blue sky days. This holds especially true in winter, when the clouds meld with the snow and anything with colour or light stands out that much more.

Chester Lake, as I've mentioned before, is renowned for deep snow early in the season. In late November, when parts of the mountains were still waiting for the first real accumulation, Chester Lake trail looked as though it had seen a season's worth of snow:

Approaching the "valley":

The "valley" never ceases to amaze me:

Panorama supplied by my amazing husband:

All that snow, gently curved by the hills beneath and the wind above often looks like an ocean to me, with gently rolling waves. The clouds and sun were amazing this day:

Though the trail was nearly deserted the day we ventured out, on our way out we had a reminder we weren't alone in the forest. Some hard working critter had littered the trail with pines for later storing:

These are the winter hikes that make me forget summer....