Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sunrise and King Creek Ridge - October 1st 2011

I got up early on Saturday to try and shoot the sunrise. I'd seen too many nice sunrises through my rear-view mirror when driving in to work this week and I wanted a chance to try and catch the light. There is a line of trees east of the city in a field that I thought would make a nice foreground object if the sky did catch fire. So I headed out there.

As it turned out the colour stayed in the east and the whole sky didn't catch the whole sky the way I had hoped it would. I swapped my wide angle lens to the telephoto and tried to fill the frame with colour by zooming into the horizon. This first shot was well before the sun reached the horizon. There were some nice blue and orange hues. There isn't really much for foreground interest in the flat prairie so I tend to use power poles and wires to provide some interest.

Prelude to the new day

A short while later, the sun started to reach the horizon and the lowest light turned a brilliant red colour. In this next shot, I like how the colour varies from the bottom of the frame to the top.

Sunrise Palette

Once the sun was above the horizon, the colour faded and the day had begun.

Conor and I had decided earlier in the week that we were going to hike King Creek Ridge in the Kananaskis. On Friday I picked up some hiking poles for Conor so we would both have a set. I recommend for anyone hiking in the hills that you pick up a pair of poles. It really does help when hiking hills with steep grades on the ascent, but in particular on the descent.

By the time Conor got up and moving, it had cooled off outside and it was actually raining. I didn't really want to go anywhere because of the weather and also we had a time restriction because we needed to be back in town for my Dad`s birthday (Happy Birthday Dad !) and it was getting later and later and time was running out. Conor was insistent about going and I`ll admit I was a bit grumpy but in the end he convinced me to go. While driving to the mountains I was worried about time and had Conor look though the book to see if there was something closer. He thought Three Sisters would be a good hike or East End of Rundle but as we got closer I could see that many of the mountains close to the highway were covered in clouds. I decided we'd drive down to King Creek and take a look. It's about 50kms south on Highway 40 and I was hoping that the weather would be different down there.

We got to the trail head by about 1:15pm. It was cloudy but not too bad. There were some light clouds on the mountain but not enough to dissuade us. The book mentions that it can be tricky to find the trail because the Mountain Sheep in the area have made paths all over the place. We started out on what seemed like a good path and it felt like we made good decisions when we came to a fork but as we made our way up the hillside we weren`t noticing any signs on the ground - like foot prints or pole marks on the trail. However, We did see lots of sheep poo and the odd hoof print. Eventually the path we were on led us to the base of some cliffs that I didn`t think we should attempt to climb. To make matters worse when the wind blew up from the valley a large cloud would form and kill all of our visibility. Then the wind would blow down and the cloud would disappear. It was actually pretty cool because the cloud kept coming and going. I was worried if we tried to pick our way up the cliffs that we`d get stuck in thick cloud. So we started to make our way back and down the direction we came. Even then it was difficult to find the path that we were on earlier.

After walking for a while we stumbled across the actual trail ( or one of them anyway.. ) leading up the hill. We could see cairns and footprints and everything and we were pretty confident that this was the way we were supposed to go. The only problem was it was now 3:00pm and we had to get back to the city by 7:00pm. I really wanted to go up so I set the timer on my phone for 45min and we decided to climb and see how far we could get. The trail pretty much went straight up. We passed a group of four guys who were coming down from the ridge and they told us we were maybe 300m from the top. Checking the timer we still had 25min before we had to decide about turning around. We kept trudging up the hill and every once in a while the wind would blow up from the valley and we`d be deep in the cloud and a few minutes later the wind would change direction and it`d just dissipate and we could see clear across the valley. When the timer did finally go off we knew we were close we could see that the hill was rounding off and we could see light through the trees. We decided to keep going and I set the timer for another 15min. Shortly after that we were on top of the ridge. The view was spectacular looking over the ridge into the next valley.

king creek ridge

It was pretty cloudy, but the sun did come out a few times for me and when it did, there was a subtle drama on the mountain.

Mt Brock

After getting to the ridge, we hung out for a bit, took some pictures and ate some of the food we'd brought up. In the pic below, the car is down and to the right behind the cloud. The cloud beside Conor is the one that kept coming and going while we climbed up the hill.

Hiking on King Creek ridge
Conor walking along the Ridge. The throbbing cloud and Kananaksis lake in the background

This was as high as we went. The highest point was a little further on but we couldn't stay.

Hiking on King Creek ridge
Conor on the ridge

In the end we made our way back to the car in just over an hour and were driving by 6:30pm. On the way back we missed the trail that we used to climb up to the ridge and came down on yet another path. Luckily it was pretty obvious where to go and it was well marked with cairns. I was an hour late for my Dad's birthday but I think it was worth it to have pressed on when we found the actual trail. I think the adventure and the beautiful scenery had a big impact on Conor. He was in high spirits the whole time and was quite excited to reach the ridge. He's even offered to go on another hike next weekend :-)

Thanks for reading.

Check out any other pics from this day Here

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