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Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake


Postby ChrisW » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:51 pm

Date walked: 05/03/2016

Time taken: 5

Distance: 15.4 km

Ascent: 276m

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I don't normally put my low level stuff on here as I would be posting 3 times a week, but our favourite place is always worth a look so here's a day out with MrsW ...the best of company :wink:

With Sarah sneaking a free afternoon and fresh snow in the mountains we decided to head out to our favourite place (Upper Kananaskis Lake) and spend the day circumnavigating this wonderful water source, even if it did mean trudging through deep snow very often. On arrival I took the usual shot from the car park looking over the picnic area to the beauty beyond.
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We were laughing at each other almost immediately as we waded through thigh deep snow across the boat launch to reach the dam, disappearing occasionally between rocks just made it funnier. There was a good strong wind blowing up spindrift constantly but it was a warm wind. The familiar frame of Mt Indefatigable towers above the forest as we set out across the dam.
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The first couple of kilometres are made through fresh, heavy, wet snow which is very unusual here but it did at least firm up underfoot and remain stable.....for the most part.
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Even standing directly facing the wind to make this image there was no hint of cold. The sky over Mt Laughty had taken on a slate blue and we could see some snow showers behind them, but that is where they stayed.
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Even the fresh snow compacted nicely underfoot along the trail because the trail beneath was solid ice and very firm, the corners on the route had made themselves into long soft folds tempting both of us to poke them with our poles more often than was necessary.
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We have soon made the circuit of the isthmus and reached the elevated corner of trail at the northern end where Mt Indefatigable fills the horizon.
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We decided to drop off the trail and make our way down to the ice where I could make some images rather than just grabbing a few as we go along, the opportunity was too good to miss....we just needed to work out a route down the broken slopes.
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Sarah had a short rest as I messed around trying to make the best of this beautiful scene, standing on the ice was very difficult and the strong wind constantly tried to wobble the camera. Crouching against the ice and rock I made a nice panorama from Mt Sarrail on the left across the lake with a nice hint of ice in the foreground.
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I like the image but it wasn't getting what I was after but, while moving around I stood on a large ice block that slithered away underfoot and went crashing down to the lake where some of it broke up and scattered into dozens of pucks that flew off in all directions. Luckily the departure of that lump made a good little spot where I could get in low and hold the camera firmly enough to make a really nice shot with a lovely ice foreground, this was the one I was after.
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Turning around and looking east toward the second dam the snow had been swept off the lake by the warm wind and with long rivers of spindrift blowing across it, it looked fantastic. A large lump of ice sat waiting to be used as a foreground object and I told Sarah we'd just have to be a little while longer....and we would have to climb down to the lake.
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I found a location with some reasonable amount of broken slabs that we could tackle one at a time and we picked our way down to the clear ice where (though a little daunted by the dark water below) we wandered out into the spindrift where Sarah stopped to get the gloves out.
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It's a little unnerving to stand on ice that is so clear but fortunately the cracks in it allow us to see the depth as light is scattered right down the cracks showing it to be well over 2 feet thick, I had Sarah make a 'windswept and interesting' pose before chasing the shot I envisioned.
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Just a few adjustments to allow a longer shutter and I was able to catch the spindrift weaving its lines across the surface of the ice, the dark water below makes for wonderful contrast and that foreground lump just provides enough interest. The image actually ended up looking a lot colder than it really was, I love it.
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Sarah stood over by the descent route we used to reach the lake to show the ice blocks folded over the shore. This happens repeatedly as the water recedes throughout winter leaving this fantastic scene for several months each year.
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After messing around for ages chasing photos I made my apologies to Sarah (for keeping her standing around) and we set off again along the trail through the forest, stopping once for a nice cuppa and a snack. We only stopped for a short time before getting on to the westernmost end of the lake and up the avalanche slopes of Mt Indefatigable.
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At the top of the avalanche slope the views are wonderful but the walking...not so much. Deep snow means there is a real risk of injury as legs disappear down between unseen boulders repeatedly.
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With any sign of a path gone and both of us dropping through to the waist several times I decided we should get off the slope and go back down to the lake.
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Back at the lake Sarah was a bit dubious about stepping off the solid ice and onto the snow covered surface that leads down to the lake itself, fearing another deep sinking experience, luckily the snow was solid enough and we were soon down on the lake.
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From the shore we could see some more ice poking up all around another island so thought we would go over there and explore a little more.
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The wind was howling across the corner of the small island but remained warm, the spindrift was getting to be a bit of a pain in the butt as it whipped against our faces stinging occasionally when tiny ice pieces joined the fray.
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Sarah very quickly lost interest in the island when we came across a large area of open water off to one side of the island, it was very strange as the ice was still 2 feet thick all around the hole, we decided not to get to close to investigate though.
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At the southern side of the island the large frame of Mt Sarrail fills the horizon and to the right is the hidden valley which holds more lakes, a huge waterfall and a significant glacier. It's an area I intend to explore more in the summer.
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A huge expanse of ice sweeps down from the island back to the lake surface and we decide to cut over to the forest trail at the base of Mt Sarrail which is still just over 2km away.
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Even after a good stretch of wandering Mt Sarrail is still some distance away, at this side of the lake there's lots of snow on the surface of the ice and it's a good workout plodding through the biting spindrift to the forest again.
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Back in the forest the snow has taken over the trail but it is solid beneath it and the wind is blocked out by the trees. It's actually the first time in hours that we've been out of the wind and it feels nice to have some calm. Just 3 or 4 km to go back along the southern shore trail and we'll be back at the car park.
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One final shot across the lake at Mt Indefatigable, the spindrift still whipping up off the summit and reaching toward the clouds. The light is just fading now, we've been walking for 5 hours and it has been another fantastic day in our favourite place.
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ChrisW
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby scoob999 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:07 pm

Wow some great shots there :D

Good to see it again without cloud this time and it just looks fabulous in its winter coat 8) Great seeing the two of you out enjoying yourselfes it's what life's all about

ATB

Scoob & Fi
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby trailmasher » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:01 pm

Some great shots there Chris with an interesting report of the walk :clap: . It's great to see Sarah out :) and about and hope that she will be able to accompany you on some more of your less daunting adventures into the wilderness :lol: I see from some of your first shots that you do get some dark clouds in your neck of the woods then :wink:
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:48 pm

I don't know why I continue to read your reports - I know I'll always be feeling extremely envious afterwards :sick:

What a wonderful place you live in. And you certainly seem to be making the best of it. My son is threatening to emigrate to Canada (he's a junior doctor) so maybe I'll get the chance to see this first hand one day...
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby ChrisW » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:15 am

scoob999 wrote:Wow some great shots there :D
Good to see it again without cloud this time and it just looks fabulous in its winter coat 8) Great seeing the two of you out enjoying yourselfes it's what life's all about
ATB
Scoob & Fi

Cheers Scoob, it's probably easier to see why I love this area in these conditions rather than the ones you saw :( But at least you saw a moose down there :thumbup:

trailmasher wrote:Some great shots there Chris with an interesting report of the walk :clap: . It's great to see Sarah out :) and about and hope that she will be able to accompany you on some more of your less daunting adventures into the wilderness :lol: I see from some of your first shots that you do get some dark clouds in your neck of the woods then :wink:

Thanks TM, it's nice to be out with Sarah now she is back to good mobility (even when I'm dragging her down ice covered banks :lol: ) We get out a lot together but rarely long hikes so I don't post them.
As for the clouds, it seems we are getting into our spring rains very early this year :shock: maybe it will be a wet one with the El Nino effect....I really hope not :(

Alteknacker wrote:I don't know why I continue to read your reports - I know I'll always be feeling extremely envious afterwards :sick:

What a wonderful place you live in. And you certainly seem to be making the best of it. My son is threatening to emigrate to Canada (he's a junior doctor) so maybe I'll get the chance to see this first hand one day...

Cheers Alteknacker, it's an incredible place for sure and we're doing our best to see as much of it as we can, funny you mention your son threatening to emigrate to Canada, I've met 4 different junior doctors from the UK who studied there then came here. 2 from Sheffield, one from Surry somewhere and one from Edinburgh...clearly it's a popular place for the docs :crazy:
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby Guinessman » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:22 pm

Superb shots of a beautiful area Chris. You can feel the crispness of the air as you look at them. I will have to have a trip over to Canada at some stage.
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby n2ddcdavid » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:03 pm

I can't say enough about the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.
You are blessed to be there.
Slainte mhah
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 10, 2016 3:50 am

Guinessman wrote:Superb shots of a beautiful area Chris. You can feel the crispness of the air as you look at them. I will have to have a trip over to Canada at some stage.

Cheers Gman, I would strongly recommend a visit to this spectacular country....make it for as long as you can too and let me know if you're coming (if you need a guide) :wink:

n2ddcdavid wrote:I can't say enough about the beauty of the Canadian Rockies. You are blessed to be there.
Slainte mhah

Cheers David, I was just saying to Sarah as we made our way to the lake for this hike; we've been here four years now and I still wow at the mountains...they truly are incredible.
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby ancancha » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:57 am

Very pleasant Chris :clap:
Really like the blocks of ice, and as per usual the mountainscape is spectacular 8)
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby rockhopper » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:16 pm

Huh, do you go out of your way to make us envious or does it just come naturally ? :wink: :wink:
Enjoyed that Chris - great to have all this so accessible and, other than deep snow, easy to get to - great photos as ever show it all at its best too - cheers :)
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby dav2930 » Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:18 pm

I'll bet you have to pinch yourself every now and then, having such stunning places on your doorstep! :crazy: Good to see Sarah out with you enjoying it all - albeit in such frustratingly deep snow :o Venturing out on that frozen lake would have given me the heebie-jeebies :shock:
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby ChrisW » Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:57 am

ancancha wrote:Very pleasant Chris :clap: Really like the blocks of ice, and as per usual the mountainscape is spectacular 8)

Cheers Ancancha, I see that ice every year and it still amazes me :wink:

rockhopper wrote:Huh, do you go out of your way to make us envious or does it just come naturally ? :wink: :wink:
Enjoyed that Chris - great to have all this so accessible and, other than deep snow, easy to get to - great photos as ever show it all at its best too - cheers :)

Cheers RH, this place in particular is one I really enjoy, I've been back there so often and yet I've still got much to see there, it's one I'll really miss when we move on :crazy:

dav2930 wrote:I'll bet you have to pinch yourself every now and then, having such stunning places on your doorstep! :crazy: Good to see Sarah out with you enjoying it all - albeit in such frustratingly deep snow :o Venturing out on that frozen lake would have given me the heebie-jeebies :shock:

Thanks Dav, I honestly do feel like pinching myself quite often :wink: it took me a few years to get used to the way people wander around on the lakes too.....but when you can see through the ice it still gives me the heebie-jeebies :lol:
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby rockhopper » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:07 pm

ChrisW wrote:it's one I'll really miss when we move on :crazy:
to where are you off next Chris ?
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby ChrisW » Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:02 pm

rockhopper wrote:
ChrisW wrote:it's one I'll really miss when we move on :crazy:
to where are you off next Chris ?

Hoping to stay here until we retire and buy a nice little place back home mate but we've been close to moving twice now (once to Belgium and once to another Canadian province) Mrs W gets a lot of offers from all over the place and ultimately one will come along with a heavier wallet that would move us closer to retirement and we'll be off again :roll:
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Re: Canada - Finding winter at Upper Kananaskis Lake

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:17 am

A pleasure as always Chris, good to see your better half getting out and about with you.
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