Seasonal Affect

Upper Kananaskis Lake

No seasonal affective disorders here, just a brief return to winter.  On this last day of April, a quiet Monday, when most of the skiers have gone home and the golfers, mountain bikers, hikers, and fly fishers have not yet arrived, we took advantage of the solitude to venture up into the Kananaskis Country, south of Canmore, climbing to an elevation of 1724 meters (5600 ft), where winter was in full force yet at the Kananaskis Lakes, which won’t begin to fill with snow melt for many weeks yet.

Lower Kananaskis Lake

We chose not to bring our bicycle on this trip, figuring the bike trails would not yet be open. Well, we were partly right. Although there is an extensive trail system throughout Kananaskis Country, some trails are closed to bicycles, as seen here, and some are just closed, anyway, along with many roads, services, and all the campgrounds.

No Bikes Allowed on this trail, even if you can find it...

We had set out for the day up Alberta Highway 40, which was still closed for the winter about 50Km up the valley. After a short hike for views of the lakes, we headed back, following the GPS, which pointed out the shortest route back was via the Spray Lakes, most of which was unpaved, but, for the first 50 Km or so, was very wide and relatively smooth and empty of traffic.

Spray Trail, along the Spray Lakes Reservoir

The scenery was great, even though visibility was low.

Spray Lakes Reservoir

Despite having dropped quite a bit in altitude, the lakes were still frozen, and we were getting quite close to town. At the dam at the head of the main reservoir, the road narrowed and deteriorated, and, more ominously, quit descending, until we came to Whitemans Pond, perched on the edge of a cliff, 400 meters (1300 ft) directly above our resort. The narrow gravel road turned sharply left across the face of the cliff and descended at a double-digit grade. Suffice it to say that, had we chosen this route outbound to the high country, we would not have attempted the journey. As it was, we were within 5Km of town and no turn-arounds, so we plummeted down the slope, transmission screaming in low gear (but, to her credit, the Nice Person, white-knuckled in the infelicitous downward-view seat, was not–screaming, that is).

Spray Trail (diagonal cut above the trees in the forground)

Meanwhile, between adventures in the wilderness, work goes on for the Unix Curmudgeon. Email correspondence tended, files uploaded, advice rendered, and life goes on. Hmmm, wonder where to go tomorrow on coffee break?

Northern Exposure

Every now and then, when the country seems a bit skewed, we feel drawn northward, to spend some time among our more bucolic neighbors, the Canadians.  Also, they have terrific scenery.  Actually, domestic chaos aside, the real reason for our periodic escapes is that we invested in a timeshare scheme a number of years ago, which forces us to go on holiday now and then.  Such is the current excursion, and the timing.  We had “use or lose time,” and decided to revisit the Canadian Rockies, which we last viewed from our trusty old Santana tandem bicycle in the summer of 1988.

So, we found ourselves, after several days of leisurely travel, in Canmore Alberta, having retraced some of our celebrated bike tour before heading east from Banff.  Of course, not being exactly ready for vacation–again–we have brought work with us.  Such is the magic and curse of the Internet…

Columbia Lake, looking south to the headwaters of the Columbia River

It’s always a treat to journey to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, which is only a few kilometers from its eventual tributary, the Kootenay, already a mighty river as it passes through Canal Flats, near the head of Lake Columbia.  Canal Flats is called thus because David Thompson, for whom Thompson Falls, Montana is named, built a canal between Lake Columbia and the Kootenay to create a water trade route through eastern British Columbia, Montana, and Idaho.

Kootenay National Park, Canada, looking north from Sinclair Pass

Moving on north along the Columbia (which flows north before turning south toward Washington), we climb through Sinclair Canyon into the Kootenay National Park, following our bike tour path of so long ago.  This view up the Kootenay from Sinclair Pass is near where we cracked a rim riding over a slip in the road surface.  We rode on it, with minor adjustments at Banff, another 400 kilometers to Jasper, getting a new rim on our return.

Bow Falls, in Banff, Alberta

On this trip, we traversed what was a three-day bike ride from Radium Hot Springs into Banff in about 90 minutes in the car.  After lunch, we did a bit of site-seeing around Banff before moving on to our destination in Canmore.

Looking east at the confluence of the Bow and Spray rivers, Banff


Mt. Rundle, from the Tunnel Mountain Road, Banff


Worldmark Canmore

So, here we are, an extension of Chaos Central in the far north. It is not quite spring here. This morning in Cranbrook, there was frost on the car, and snow in sheltered areas, and we experienced a few flurries while taking pictures on Tunnel Mountain, though the temps reached the teens (C) in the valleys. We have a week to explore the area, and try to get some work done, before returning to the normal hectic pace.