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Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measure

Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measure


Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:48 am

Date walked: 14/03/2012

Time taken: 3.5

Distance: 8.3 km

Ascent: 338m

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With over a week of thawing I opted to head deeper into the mountains in an effort to find a hike up a significant hill. My hope was that the snow may have eased enough to allow a decent ascent. Long before I even turned off highway 1 (the Trans Canada Highway) I could see that the mountains were wearing a fresh cloak of white and any thoughts of serious ascent were shelved. Remembering a stunning little lake I had read in my Kananaskis guide I turned onto Highway 40 and headed south to Upper Kananaskis Lake, little did I know just how much snow had fallen. Even the ploughs were struggling as I picked my way along the Kananaskis Lakes Trail toward the parking area.
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Turning toward the car park for Upper Kananaskis Lake (where the ploughs had not yet reached) my truck was actually scraping a trail and bulldozing snow in the front, as I looked ahead the drifts were incredible and I opted to reverse out and park at the turning point and walk in.
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the drifts along the entrance road did add to the scene as the sky cleared away the early morning cloud, fortunately there were snowshoe trails heading in so at least I didn't have to break the trail (which is always much more strenuous)
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On reaching the trailhead at the car park and toilet block I actually laughed to myself and shook my head looking at the incredible drifts engulfing the building......I was glad I hadn't kept bulldozing my way in.
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It was strange to walk up the steep bank at the trailhead and be almost at the level of the toilet block roof but it did provide a nice view out across the lake
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once under way on the trail 'proper' the going was pretty good (in snowshoes) and I made good time along the lake side
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I was left feeling a little uncomfortable when crossing the lake inlet as a huge melted hole showed the water running by below, though it's not deep I didn't fancy dropping in it all the same
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once the trail breaks away from the lake and begins to ascend it does so steeply and gets the lungs working
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the route up through the forest is beautiful with every branch on every tree covered with snow and my breath hangs in the air like mist as it billows out in increasing amounts as I ascend
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fortunately, though it is a steep ascent it is also relatively short and the trail eventually levels out and I get a glimpse of the mountains ahead
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stepping out of the trees provides a stunning view of a huge amphitheatre, where I meet three fellow Calgarians admiring the view and packing their kit away ready for the descent. I thank them for breaking the trail and we discuss the snow, apparently the forecast says there will be several more feet of snow in the mountains over the next 5 days.
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I have my tracker bar out for all of 10 seconds before the Whiskey Jacks are loitering around reminding me that they have little to eat in the deep snow conditions, so we share my first bar then they eat the second entirely. It is wonderful to have these little creatures resting on my hands without a care.
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across the lake is a further ascent around the back of the trees and up to the Col between two of the mountains, I decide to leave my bag hanging and go take a look, the view from there is supposed to be spectacular. The photo below shows a little of what happened next........I set off across the lake and was making headway when a sizeable avalanche poured down the face of the mountains at the end of the lake, as I stood admiring the cascade I noticed a 'wave' moving across the lake toward me, I actually went a bit 'startled rabbit' for a moment and set off to the right, then left before realising back was my best bet, as I turned to run back the ice beneath me raised me up in the air and dropped down again, I kept running even though it was now passed and reached the bank shaking like a jack-hammer. After gathering myself I decided the best option was to circle the lake, then sense hit me and I twigged that I would have to cross the avalanche zone to get to the Col.......I turned back....I had kind of lost heart anyway, going up mountains in winter....who needs it.
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I went back to my bag and the Whiskey Jacks where I sat for quite a while looking back across the lake, it was absolutely stunning but also absolutely lethal
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I took a wander around the lake outlet and tried in vain to find the woodpecker that kept tap-tap-tapping nearby
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I take one last look around at this beautiful little lake before heading back down through the snow drenched forest
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I bounded down the trail cutting corners and really enjoying the descent through untrodden snow and found myself back at the side of Kananaskis Lake in no time at all, my previous panic was well settled and I took a steady wander back along the trail to the truck.
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the snow plough had made its rounds when I got back to the truck so once changed and ready for the off I took a drive round the car park to show the depth of the snow there.
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this is an absolutely stunning location and one I'll be returning to when the snow has eventually thawed, this time I'll be bringing Sarah and a picnic and staying off the lake ; )
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ChrisW
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:33 am

Love the pic of the birds feeding and as for that mountain face at the head of the valley, fantastic. :thumbup:
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby malky_c » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:06 am

Spectacular - and a little worrying :shock: . That's some amount of snow already. Can't believe you're getting more.

I tend to find the fact that there are trees everywhere makes everything look similar. But I'm finally starting to recognise things. You were in this area not very long ago as well:
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=19019
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby SusieThePensioner » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:42 pm

Wow, Chris, what an experience and a timely reminder of the dangers lurking :shock:

Some brilliant photos and thoroughly enjoyed your report. Will look forward to the ones later when you return and see the difference without the snow :D
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby jonny616 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:11 pm

Great stuff as always Chris. Much prefer your white stuff to my brown :lol: :lol: :lol:

That rock face looks like a mimi Lhotse, but just as dangerous i'm sure 8)
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:15 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Love the pic of the birds feeding and as for that mountain face at the head of the valley, fantastic. :thumbup:

Thanks JK, those birds seem to be a permanent fixture around that area, they are incredibly friendly :D
malky_c wrote:Spectacular - and a little worrying :shock: . That's some amount of snow already. Can't believe you're getting more.

I tend to find the fact that there are trees everywhere makes everything look similar. But I'm finally starting to recognise things. You were in this area not very long ago as well: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=19019

I'm with you on that Malky, the low levels are just millions of acres of trees but I'm struggling to get to the higher ground because of the snow, it's starting to be frustrating :wtf:

SusieThePensioner wrote:Wow, Chris, what an experience and a timely reminder of the dangers lurking :shock:
Some brilliant photos and thoroughly enjoyed your report. Will look forward to the ones later when you return and see the difference without the snow :D

Thanks Susie, it will be a while though according to the Canadians I ran in to up there it will be June before that area is snow free :shock:
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby Sabbathstevie » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:51 pm

Stunning pics and report Chris - though jealous II@m glad you are continuing to post since leaving our wee country! Keep it up! :D
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:17 pm

Sabbathstevie wrote:Stunning pics and report Chris - though jealous II@m glad you are continuing to post since leaving our wee country! Keep it up! :D

Cheers Stevie....wait until I can get up the big stuff (if the snow ever goes) then you'll be seeing some quality hikes :wink: this is just the warm up :lol:
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby gammy leg walker » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:20 pm

Have a confession to make Chris,really getting fed-up of all the blue sky and stunning landscapes you keep posting,give me clag,rain,bog,& wind and I"m as happy as a sand dancer. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Luck escape you had there also mate,one to tell the Mrs........NOT!!!!!!!!!!!.
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:20 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:Have a confession to make Chris,really getting fed-up of all the blue sky and stunning landscapes you keep posting,give me clag,rain,bog,& wind and I"m as happy as a sand dancer. :lol: :lol: :lol:
Luck escape you had there also mate,one to tell the Mrs........NOT!!!!!!!!!!!.

Cheers Gammy, I'll be posting the clag in summer apparently :shock: until then you'll have to make do with lovely blue sky days :lol: the Mrs read my report already......she wasn't happy and gave me a lecture on walking alone etc etc :roll: :lol:
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby PeteR » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:18 pm

Some report Chris :wtf: As always your photos are stunning :D and your report superbly written :D but not sure I would have liked to be in your boots when the effects of the avalanche hit :shock: MrsR would ban me from going out if that happened to me :lol: Glad you made it out unscahed :thumbup:

I'm with Gammy on the blue sky. What's that all about :lol: Doesn't it rain in Canada :lol:
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:46 pm

PeteR wrote:Some report Chris :wtf: As always your photos are stunning :D and your report superbly written :D but not sure I would have liked to be in your boots when the effects of the avalanche hit :shock: MrsR would ban me from going out if that happened to me :lol: Glad you made it out unscahed :thumbup:
I'm with Gammy on the blue sky. What's that all about :lol: Doesn't it rain in Canada :lol:

Cheers Pete, MrsW is not amused :lol: in terms of rainfall, there is virtually no rain in Calgary for 6 months of the year so its pretty nice throughout winter....waaaay too much snow though :lol: apparently it rains the most in summer :(
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby L-Hiking » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:07 pm

Great stuff again Chris.... :clap: . That cliff face looks impressive accros the lake.... Be careful and keep them reports coming :D
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby ChrisW » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:15 pm

L-Hiking wrote:Great stuff again Chris.... :clap: . That cliff face looks impressive accros the lake.... Be careful and keep them reports coming :D

Cheers LH...I'm staying off the lakes from now on :shock:
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Re: Canada - Rawson Lake - Beautiful & lethal in equal measu

Postby ChrisW » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:36 am

jonny616 wrote:Great stuff as always Chris. Much prefer your white stuff to my brown :lol: :lol: :lol:

That rock face looks like a mimi Lhotse, but just as dangerous i'm sure 8)

Hey Jonny, how did I miss this?? sorry mate.........and what the hell is a mimi Lhotse :shock:
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