Friday, May 30, 2014

Powderface - May 30, 2014

Friday afternoon I drove out to Powderface creek trail in Kananaskis for a hike around the loop. Between Powderface and Prairie creek there is a connector trail called Prairie link that climbs up and over from one valley to the other. On this trail there is a section where the path is cut into the forest. This section is one of my favorite parts of the trail.

Prairie Link

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Storm Clouds - May 29. 2014

Driving home from work there was this massive cloud in the east.. instead of turning towards home I followed it and was able to get a few pictures that I liked. When I first pulled over I spotted a fellow who must have been a storm chaser. His truck had a little antenna with some spinning wind vane things on it and he was taking pics of the storm cloud. I thought that I was in the right place when I saw him there. I drove over to the field that was full of water hoping to get some reflections.

Storm Cell

The cloud was transforming fast.. when I first saw it I was near the zoo on Memorial Drive and it was just starting to billow upwards and had all this incredible texture. It later hit the ceiling and started expanding outwards. I like the way the sunlight is hitting the rain below the cloud in this shot. There is still a lot of detail below the expanding top.

East of the city, the clouds start to get anxious.

I drove around looking for a rainbow to materialize in the rain clouds but wasn't too successful. There were some hints at a rainbow but nothing substantial. The original cloud had expanded and flattened out on top but there was still detail down below.

Storm Clouds

As spring turns into summer, I'm hoping for more spring sky drama - and rainbows.

Thanks for looking.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ha Ling Peak - May 25, 2014

Conor and I hiked up to the summit of Ha Ling peak on Sunday.

Conor on the Summit of HaLing peak. Rundle mountain is in the background

The weather was calling for clouds with scattered rain showers. On the drive out we passed through a couple shower pockets but overall it was dry.  Ha Ling Peak is a pretty popular hike near Canmore. The parking lot is up on top of the hill at the Goat Creek trail head. We got to the parking lot and made our way across the road to the Ha Ling trail and started up.

Ha Ling
Starting out at the parking lot.. We're all smiles as we begin our journey

As we walked into the forest I immediately loved the trail. I didn't really know what to expect about the terrain or the views so I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty it was right away. The path starts in the trees and is heavily worn with many exposed roots to navigate over. There is a bit of a gully so the trees had a nice mossy enchantment about them. We were soon hiking up switchbacks that have been well maintained to account for the heavy use that the area gets. The trail was always climbing but wasn't overly steep and there weren't too many folks to contend with. Our late start (2:15pm) and cooler weather may have saved us from the hoards.

Loopy trees on the switchbacks. Nice spot for a rest.

After climbing up five switch backs in the forest we started to clear the treeline. Snow and ice on the trail appeared around the end of the fourth switchback and was gone as we reached the scree slope. Once we had the summit in view we decided to make a beeline straight up the hill rather than following the path with it's less-direct-route. It seemed to take a while to climb up the loose rock but I think part of that was because we could see our objective but couldn't judge how far away it was. For a while it didn't seem like it was getting any closer as we trudged up the slope.

On the open scree slope with the wind picking up, time to put the jacket back on. 

Eventually we made it to the top. Conor had a few snacks while I tried to make some photos. The wind had picked up and it was spitting rain so we didn't stay too long as it was starting to get a bit chilly. With the dull overcast sky and low visibility I lost interest in taking photos. We left the summit and made our way over to the col between Ha Ling and Miners Peak on the main trail. We followed the path back down to the tree line while slipping and sliding on some slushy snow. Once in the trees the wind was blocked and we were soon warmed up again.

Conor having a snack on the summit.

As we got to the end of the trail we came across a helicopter that had landed on the road. As we watched the helicopter lifted a SAR person up, by rope, and dropped them on the hillside where we could see someone who looked to be stranded on some steep down-sloping cliffs. It looked like the SAR person was going to rappel the stranded hiker down to the ground.  We left before the rescue completed but it serves as a reminder that being out in the mountains isn't without risk.

After a satisfying dinner at the Grizzly Paw restaurant in Canmore we drove home. According to the GPS app on my phone we hiked 6.5kms over 4 hours 10 minutes. I've read that the elevation gain of this hike is around 700m.  Any other photos from the day can be found here

NEW: A short video of our trip..

And a small map that shows the path we took. IMG_5697.PNG
Thanks for looking.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chester Lake - November 9th, 2013

I drove out to Kananaskis today to visit the mountains. It's been a while since I've been able to get out and hold my camera in my hands and make some photos. I picked up some snowshoes on Friday and was wanting to try them out. In my research there are lots of cross country ski trails, but there aren't that many official snowshoe trails around. Chester Lake has some snowshoe trails and had received quite a bit of snow last weekend.  I'd been up there recently for fall photos so there is where I wanted to go.

In regards to snowshoeing, I imagined to some degree that having snowshoes would allow me to float on top of snow and that somehow it would be this frolic-y "bound through the snow with a big smile on my face" kind of experience.. however as it turns out, snowshoes aren't wings, nor are they anti-gravity shoes. They do help distribute your weight over a larger surface area so you don't sink as much on packed snow and all the jagged teeth on the bottom of the shoe gives you a certain amount of traction but magic carpets they are not. A hill is still a hill regardless of what you have on your feet and a hill must be climbed and gravity overcome in order to scale it.

I got to the Chester parking lot and started gathering my stuff for the hike. It didn't take long before I spotted the moose. There were four of them in the parking lot and they were going around and licking cars presumably to get the salt. Moose are quite tall and lanky looking so I was surprised when they moved and showed how nimble and graceful they actually are.. I was trying to position myself so I could get a photo of a young male - without a car in the background - when some skiers came zipping off the trail and into the parking lot. They spooked the moose a little bit and it bound off into the trees. At this point I decided to leave the moose alone and start off on my journey to the lake on my fancy snowshoes.

It didn't take too long before I needed a rest. I wasn't pacing myself very well and with my unrealistic expectations at how easy the snowshoes would make this - I had run out of breath. I rested and after a bit started up again and quickly was tired again.. then I started to sweat - a lot.. which seemed OK because I had a number of layers on including some sporty shirt that is supposed to whisk sweat away. I unzipped my coat and continued on for a bit until I needed another rest.  In reading about snowshoeing I learned that the proper etiquette is for snowshoe-ers to stay off the ski tracks so I was trying to go on the side but the snow was loose and deep and it was hard work to walk through this kind of snow. Hence all the sweating.

The trail to Chester lake eventually flattens out once your in the upper valley. When I finally got there I was excited to see that the light was very beautiful. The clouds were blocking the sun from hitting the upper mountains so there was this nice bit of sunshine hitting the ground but there were shadows up above on the mountains. In addition there was snow blanketing the ground providing a lot of nice textures.

Once I got to the lake itself I found it was covered with snow and ice. I was hoping that there might still be open water for some reflective photos, but no such luck.. I followed some tracks around the lake that eventually led up into the trees again. I`ve read about the 'elephant rocks' at Chester lake but haven't seen them and didn't really know where they were. I was sort of hoping that the trail would lead to them so I followed the tracks up into the trees.  After about 20 minutes or so the trail entered a clearing and this was where the rocks were.. They weren't really rocks per-say but were large (very large, like two story house large) hunks of rock there were scattered around the clearing.  I was excited to find them so I started to make some photos.  As I worked my way around the rocks making different shots I found myself waiting for the sun to dip below the clouds so the light would hit the rocks.  It did it once or twice while I wasn't really paying attention so I figured it would do it again.

I was standing there waiting, looking at the rocks, forming my composition so that when the light came I'd be ready to make the shot. While I was waiting for the light I was looking at the rock formations when all of a sudden it clicked and I saw them. The elephants. In the photo below I see two.

Elephant rocks

I made some shots and waited around some more to see if the clouds would let the sun out again but they did not so I moved on and made my way back down to the lake. Walking downhill was easier so I made good time. Past the lake and down down down to the parking lot. When I got there there were about nine cars and there were two moose left licking the cars. I circled around so as not to get too close but ended up herding them towards my car. I used my remote lock to make the horn beep and scare them off a little bit so I could get access to my car. After unpacking and changing out of my sweaty clothes I started my drive back to Calgary. It was just after four in the afternoon. Sun was to set at 5:00pm but it was already darker because of the clouds. Heading back towards Canmore I saw a coyote and a large bull moose on the side of the road. I stopped to make some photos of both.



Overall, it was an awesome day in the mountains. There are more photos from today posted and you can see them here.

Thanks for looking

Monday, October 14, 2013

Highway 66 - October 14, 2013

Yesterday the sky was overcast and cloudy, this morning there wasn`t a cloud in the sky which was disappointing because I was in the mountains yesterday but wasn`t today. After a late decision to go for a drive I found myself heading out of town. I wasn`t sure where I wanted to go and ended up driving down Highway 66 past Bragg Creek. The bridge is still out at Alan Bill from the floods this past spring so there was a bit of traffic as cars took turns going across the temporary bridge. It was such a nice day that there were lots and lots of people out on the road. Early on the drive I passed some trees that caught my eye but I didn't stop thinking that there would be lots of trees to look at. I drove all the way to the end of the road at Little Elbow. I was really hoping for more yellow leaves but many of the trees that I could see from the road were now naked. I was a tiny bit disappointed and on the way back stopped the car near the river to see if I could make a photo of something.

Walking along the edge of the river I noticed that there were some large rocks I could use to get a vantage point that would put the distant mountains just above some rapids. I knew going in that I should have changed my shoes but I thought I'd be careful enough that it wouldn't be a problem. The texture on the soles of my shoes wore away quite some time ago. When it rains I walk differently because there is a particular angle at which my shoes will hydroplane on things like wet tile, or plywood in construction zones, or even wet crosswalk paint. I'm not inexperienced at recovering from slipping in the streets and have only hit ground once that I can recall. So having hopped across a few rocks and noticing that one of my shoes had dipped into the river should have been a clear warning that my shoe would probably not be stable going forward. I was doing OK for a while but my attention was on getting the shot when my foot went full on into the water. I recovered but it wasn`t long before both feet had become submerged. I gave up on getting the shot when I fell backwards and found myself sitting in the river. Below is a photo that I captured from the middle of the Elbow river.

Elbow River

Luckily I had some extra clothes in the car and was able to get out of my wet pants, socks and shoes. I figured I should head home cause things just weren`t working out. As I drove I passed the trees that I`d seen on the way in I debated with myself about stopping and finally decided that I would. The fall colours are quickly fading and I wanted to take advantage of whatever is left. I parked the car along the side of the road and composed some shots of the trees.


I`m pleased with this photo and capturing it helped make the trip worthwhile. I love photographing trees and I love fall.

Thanks for looking

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Elbow Lake - October 13, 2013

Made a short family hike out to Elbow Lake on Sunday looking for some Fall colours. On the drive out we passed lots of yellow trees but as we made our way further south along Highway 40 and into higher elevations the scenery started to become snow covered. Around the Highwood Pass a lot of the leaves have fallen already as winter starts to settle in. For our trip the sky was cloudy and overcast which made it feel even more like winter. We walked around the lake and down the Elbow valley a ways towards Tombstone mountain. I was hoping to get to Edworthy falls but it was a bit further than I remembered and we ended up turning around. Elbow lake is just staring to freeze over and there was a light dusting of snow covering the ice, for a few minutes the sun was illuminating Tombstone mountain and I made this photo.

Elbow Lake

With the overcast light and the low contrast on the snow the image looked monochromatic already so I finished it in black and white.

Before we turned around we came across a few wind-swept larches.

Wind Swept Larch tree

Thanks for looking.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Larches at Chester Lake - October 6th, 2013

Larches at Chester Lake

I escaped the city a bit late (around noon) and wanted to drive down highway 40 to look for fall colours. My original plans for the day were to go to Chester lake to see the Larch trees that grow there. I'd been there a couple years ago with the kids in the summer and I had noticed that there were larch trees along the edge of the lake. Anytime I see larch trees I imagine going to that place in the fall to see them. For those of you that don't know larch trees are an evergreen (or Christmas tree) who's needles turn an intense yellow in the fall and fall off, just like a leafy tree. The needles grow out again in the spring and are soft like a koosh ball. They're usually found at alpine levels - high up on the mountains often at the top of the treeline. Now that it is early October and fall is quite established I hoped they'd be in their glory.