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Canada - The Hidden Valley

Canada - The Hidden Valley


Postby ChrisW » Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:50 am

Date walked: 17/09/2015

Time taken: 6

Distance: 19.1 km

Ascent: 573m

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As a result of going to bed a little earlier than usual last night I found myself wide awake at 5:30am. As someone who generally isn't a lover of mornings I didn't want to waste the opportunity so I got up, had a quick cuppa and made a sandwich as a 'take along breakfast' before heading out to Kananaskis.

I hadn't actually determined where I was going but I wanted to reach the mountains before sunrise if possible, with low clouds drifting through I hoped to get some bounce light beneath them and as I drove down highway 40, I got lucky.

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Close up of Mt Kidd
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Close up of The Wedge
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Looking south on highway 40
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After spending 15 minutes at the roadside shooting the sunrise I returned to my truck and continued south, only to find myself stopping again to shoot the blanket of fog enveloping Kananaskis Lakes
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As I haven't been to Kananaskis Lakes for a while I decided today was the day to make the long trek to the Hidden Valley which, this morning, is well and truly hidden by the rolling fog bank.
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Everyone who spends time in the mountains knows these morning fog banks are usually short lived and sure enough, as I reached the car park for the upper lake the fog was breaking up. A little sun caught the side of Mt Indefatigable and illuminated the last of the low cloud. On the left of the shot below is Mt Sarrail and beside it to the right is Mt Lyautey, the pass between them is where I'm heading today.
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The trail begins beside the large information kiosk on the south-western side of the car park. I find myself needing hat, coat and gloves this morning as the cold mountain air struggles to warm up from the -5 that was reading in the truck as I arrived, a strong breeze was doing nothing to help with the chill.
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The walk beside the lake is wonderful, made entirely in the shelter of trees with picture windows every now and then to remind me of the stunning surroundings just a glimpse away.
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Sarrail Creek Falls are still running at a good rate though the full width isn't used at this time of year. The bridge that stood here previously was annihilated during the 2013 floods but there are enough rocks and tree limbs scattered around to make crossing the creek a straightforward task.
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I had hoped for better reflections this morning but that strong breeze that was helping with the fog bank, eliminated any possibility of a 'mill pond' scenario. I still dropped down to the waters edge to grab a shot when I saw one calmer area about half way to my turn off.
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Looking down to Mt Lautey from the waterside as a snow shower blew through over the summit releasing a few flakes on the breeze that carried all the way to where I was standing.
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It would be easy for those not paying attention to walk right past the turning for the 'Hidden Lake' trail which is much narrower than the Kananaskis Lakes trail and branches off to the left behind a tree. At around 4.5 km start looking for the green flagging or the orange band directly behind it.
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A nice easy forest trail winds its way through a myriad of fallen trees on a lush carpet of moss, the underfoot conditions are perfect with soft cushioning of every step and a little spring back as you stride forward. In no time at all I can see Hidden Lake through the trees beside me (though much of the water has gone at this time of year)
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Snow showers are still rattling around as I reach an opening in the forest where I can see the small remaining pool of water in the surprisingly large lake. On the opposite bank Mt Lautey remains under siege from the passing showers as it's flanks begin the transition to autumn gold.
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My trail remains tucked away in the trees which keeps the light snow showers at bay as I follow the contours of the lake around to the southernmost point. From here the scale of the lake is more readily identified, there is still plenty of water here but it is under the rocky bed and making its way out to Upper Kananaskis Lake.
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I depart the lake shore at the southernmost point and follow a steep winding trail through trees until it pops out onto the avalanche slopes on the western flanks of Mt Sarrail where boot deep snow hides the trail.
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As I ascend the western slope of Mt Sarrail I can finally see the source of the thundering roar of water which has been with me since I popped out of the trees on the col, the impressively sheer Fossil Falls is something I will definitely be revisiting but today I'm just exploring.
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Higher still and a view opens up over the route I've hiked in, with the low water of Hidden Lake followed by the turquoise green of Upper Kananaskis Lake and the ribbon of forest that separates the two.
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As I reach an abutment at the top of the avalanche slope I find another smaller waterfall with tempting scramble potential. I decide to climb up a little way to find a lunch spot.
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The scramble is really good fun with a nice slope of water worn rock that reaches upward in waves, I wonder if this actually becomes a full waterfall in the springtime, if so it would be quite a sight.
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I followed a large side crevice for a while until seeing this little snow covered ridge which I crossed in order to get a view of the falls which (it has to be said) are far from impressive.
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I eventually found a nice little spot out of the breeze and sat down for lunch. I was still pretty cold up here (about 7500 feet) but as I sat there the sun broke through the cloud and I got a lovely shot of Fossil Falls with the tiny patch of autumn colour lit up as if by a spotlight.
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A little more scrambling after lunch got me to a higher vantage point which was unfortunately a dead end owing to the wall of rock ahead, it did allow a look across the western end of the lakes into the long valley that holds Invincible Lake...another place I've yet to see.
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After boxing myself in on the ridge and having to turn back (for today at least) I decided to call it a day and make the 10km trek back to the car park. As I walked the trail alongside Upper Kananaskis Lake the sun burst through the clouds and lit up the small patch of autumnal colour at the base of Mt Indefatigable and the sheer wall of rock along its flank. If it wasn't for the next occurrence this might have been my favourite moment of the day.
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I used to tell my friend Cecil "if you make the journey out to Kananaskis Lake it always rewards you for the effort" I know Cecil would have loved to be here for this as this big fella stood around waiting for me to take as many shots as I wanted while he chomped away at the surrounding greenery.
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I was happy to get back to the car today, this felt like a long way. Maybe a combination of the scrambling and the boot deep snow on the ascent (for the first time this year) combined to highlight my fitness level, maybe 20km is a long way. No matter what, it was a really nice unplanned day in my favourite area with a bonus moose to cap it off, perfect.
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ChrisW
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby martin.h » Sat Sep 19, 2015 4:53 pm

Stunning scenery there Chris, what a place to be, wide open spaces and big wildlife.
Great report and lovely photos.

Cheers.
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby mamoset » Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:02 pm

martin.h wrote:Stunning scenery there Chris, what a place to be, wide open spaces and big wildlife.
Great report and lovely photos.

Cheers.


Not much more to be said really, stunning scenery :thumbup:
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby trailmasher » Mon Sep 21, 2015 7:52 pm

What a great set of photos Chris and stunning colours :clap: :clap: with snow to boot. Great pictures of the elk/moose and I can nearly count every hair on its back they are so clear. Well done you once again :clap: :clap:
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby ChrisW » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:44 am

martin.h wrote:Stunning scenery there Chris, what a place to be, wide open spaces and big wildlife.
Great report and lovely photos. Cheers.


Thanks Martin, this area is my favourite around here and always seems to have a moose or two lurking :lol:
mamoset wrote:Not much more to be said really, stunning scenery :thumbup:


Cheers Mamoset, the Rockies really are something special, even out here in the foothills :wink:
trailmasher wrote:What a great set of photos Chris and stunning colours :clap: :clap: with snow to boot. Great pictures of the elk/moose and I can nearly count every hair on its back they are so clear. Well done you once again :clap: :clap:

Cheers TM I really hit the jackpot on this one, beautiful start to the day really enjoyable long hike in a new area and an obliging moose to cap it all off....what a day :D
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby BlackPanther » Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:28 pm

What can I add, MAGIC, simply magic.

I have just returned to the hills after a 6 weeks break and though I didn't get such amazing scenery, the magic of the mountains was still there, only on a smaller scale.
Life without hillwalking would be a very sad one...
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:27 am

Some of those images are simply sublime. What a place! The other images are only excellent. :)

Winter very much waiting in the wings over there then!
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby dav2930 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:46 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Some of those images are simply sublime. What a place! The other images are only excellent. :)

Here here! ( :lol: )
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:20 pm

Even by your wonderful standards Chris those pics are sensational :clap: you should get up early more often ;-)
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby ChrisW » Thu Sep 24, 2015 3:06 am

BlackPanther wrote:What can I add, MAGIC, simply magic.
I have just returned to the hills after a 6 weeks break and though I didn't get such amazing scenery, the magic of the mountains was still there, only on a smaller scale.
Life without hillwalking would be a very sad one...


Thanks BP, good to see you back out there and even better to see Kevin return from injury :D

Mal Grey wrote:Some of those images are simply sublime. What a place! The other images are only excellent. :)
Winter very much waiting in the wings over there then!


:lol: Thanks Mal, winter is trying to force its way in now but it usually drifts out again for another month or so...I hope :lol:

dav2930 wrote:
Mal Grey wrote:Some of those images are simply sublime. What a place! The other images are only excellent. :)

Here here! ( :lol: )


Cheers Dav :D

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Even by your wonderful standards Chris those pics are sensational :clap: you should get up early more often ;-)

Thanks JK, I really should make more effort with the photography...but those early mornings.... :shock: ..... :lol: :lol:
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby Sabbathstevie » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:53 pm

Possibly some of the best landscapes I've ever seen. I'm actually seething with jealousy
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby ChrisW » Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:33 am

Sabbathstevie wrote:Possibly some of the best landscapes I've ever seen. I'm actually seething with jealousy

:lol: :lol: Cheers Stevie, what's even worse is that these are just my everyday sights around here :lol:
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby georgeaquaterra » Fri Sep 25, 2015 9:16 pm

Every part of that looks awesome. The scenery. The wildlife. The geology. The whole package. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby ChrisW » Sun Sep 27, 2015 8:59 pm

georgeaquaterra wrote:Every part of that looks awesome. The scenery. The wildlife. The geology. The whole package. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks George, it's a wonderful part of the world I find myself in right now :D
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Re: Canada - The Hidden Valley

Postby ilovescotty » Tue Sep 29, 2015 12:00 pm

Hi Chris

You're very lucky to live in such a stunning country! Have you ever done any hiking on Vancouver Island, and if so how was it? It's one of my top destinations to visit before I die.

Cheers
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