Unless tracked for cross country skiing, most hiking trails are suitable for snowshoeing. Due to the possibility of avalanches in some areas it is important to check with the Visitor Centres for the area in which you plan to snowshoe if you do not have the training to assess and address the risk of avalanches yourself. Because of a lack of snow over the last couple of years in parts of Kananaskis for dependable trail conditions Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is recommended. I like this area because I always get fantastic photos of the valley and surrounding mountains like in the photo below. If you are looking for snowshoe trails close to Calgary, try Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
Peter Lougheed also has several dedicated snowshoe trails which were established for this activity.
Below is a list of these trails and a couple of others recommended by the Visitor Centre in the area in my order of preference. Where I have done a detailed description of the trail, clicking on the title will take you to the hike description.
6.7 kilometers, 280 meter elevation gain, 2-4 hour duration.
3.4 kilometers, 40 meters, 1-2 hour duration.
Sawmill Snowshoe Loop
5.1 kilometers, 121 meter elevation gain, 2-3 hour duration, PDF Map Available.
Hydroline to Elk Pass Snowshoe Trail, 12.2 kilometers, 220 meter elevation gain, 2-4 hour duration. See post for aerial PDF.
Lower Lake Snowshoe Trail, 3.5 kilometers of linear lakeshore trail from either Canyon Day Use or William Watson Lodge, PDF Available.
Marsh Loop, 1.5 kilometer lop from William Watson Lodge, Gradual Uphill and Downhill, PDF Available.
Village Loops Snowshoe Trail, 2 loops totalling 3 kilometers with some hills and viewpoints, starting from Woody's parking lot trailhead, PDF Available.
Highway #40 Snowshoe Trail, 5 kilometers of linear trail from the winter gate, PDF Available.
The trailhead and a snapshot of some of the scenery at the destination is available via Google Maps.
Over the next few months I am going to update my gear from the 80's and I am going light. I spent a good part of the day comparing tents for two but 4 pounds or under. Altrec has great deals on 3 tents but only for a couple more days until January 7, 2008. I am ordering the Sierra Designs Lightning today. The cost is $170. Here is its description:
A proven pick among fair-weather backpackers and climbers, the award-winning Sierra Designs Lightning Tent offers some of the best crossflow ventilation available for two-person tents. This is a lightweight and remarkably stable tent supported by a pair of DAC Featherlite NSL poles, a stronger and lighter support design that features the highest strength-to-weight ratio among similarly sized aluminum tent poles. DAC Featherlite NSL poles feature locking pole tips to accommodate pole stress, so there's less of a chance that you'll be patching things up on the trail. Roomy gear pockets on the inside of the Lightning make it easy for two adults to separate their gear. If you head out during the hottest months of the year or prefer going minimalist in the desert, the Sierra Designs Lightning Tent can be a breezy shelter even when it swelters.
* 2004 Editor's Choice Winner, Backpacker Magazine
* Lightweight and waterproof 40-denier nylon ripstop body fabric treated with Tent Guard with Ultra Fresh for mildew control
* Rugged and waterproof 70-denier 1800-mm. nylon taffeta floor fabric with a SuperSeal treatment
* Waterproof and lightweight vestibule material made from 40-denier HT ripstop nylon with a polyurethane/silicon treatment
* Two lightweight and durable DAC Featherlite NSL 9.0-mm. poles with locking pole tips
* Designed to accommodate two adults with room for gear (more space in vestibule)
* One stash door
* Swift clips and Clip-Locs help expedite pitching
* Reflective guy-outs and zipper poles
* Compatible with the Lightning Tent Fast Pack footprint (sold separately)
* Peak height is 40 in. with enough headroom for adults to sit up
* Interior space: 31 sq. ft. (not including the 9 sq. ft. vestibule)
* Dimensions (LxWxH): 84.5 x 53 x 40 in.
* Trail weight: 3 lb. 15 oz.
Another option that I considered, mostly because of the price was the Sierra Designs Sirius. Can you really beat a $100. Here are its features:
Sierra Designs: Sirius Tent - While the Sirius might be classified as a three-season tent, the dual doors and big mesh walls make it easier to cool and vent than other alpine three-season climbing tents. It's a great design for camping and climbing in moderate weather conditions, even if the wind kicks up. The Sirius features Sierra Designs' Quick Pitch Swivel Hub, a small metal swivel up top that locks the tent poles in place, adding as much as 60% more structural support than conventional "crossover" tent pole configurations. The Swivel Hub also simplifies pitching, so you're less likely to have your poles crossed (in a bad way)--especially if you're setting up camp in the dark. It features a two-door architecture inspired by CAD design that offers excellent cross ventilation. Besides having their own door, each of the two adult occupants also enjoy a separate vestibule for hiking boots and climbing gear. Gear pockets along the inside of the 31-square-foot interior space make it easier to sort out field guides, GPS components and other important stuff. One thing to keep in mind is that the Sirius series does feature an optional footprint (sold separately) for floor protection, but it cannot be pitched in a fly-only, fastpacking configuration. Considering that the packed weight is around four and a half pounds, most minimalists probably won't mind. If you're looking for a similar design with more vestibule space and plenty of accessories, check out the Sierra Designs Electron tent with included footprint, portable attic--and even a coffee sling!
* Rugged and lightweight 70-denier nylon taffeta fly fabric treated with a 1,500-mm. polyurethane/silicone treatment
* Lightweight 70-denier nylon ripstop body fabric
* SuperSeal floor made from 70-denier taffeta nylon treated with a 1,800-mm. finish
* Two new lightweight DAC 9.00-mm. Press Fit poles
* New Quick Pitch Swivel Hub adds up to 60% more structural support than crossover tent poles
* All fabric treated with Tent Guard with Ultra Fresh for long-lasting mildew control
* Cannot be pitched in a fly-only, fastpacking configuration
* Swift Clips and Clip-Locs facilitate pitching
* Accommodates two adults
* Two doors (one on each side with reflective zipper pulls
* Color-coded webbing for easy setup
* Exterior peak height: 53 in.
* Area: 31 sq. ft. + 4 + 4 sq. ft. dual vestibules
* Stuff sack dimensions: 6 x 23 in.
* Trail weight 4 lbs.
Check out the others at Altrec.com.
Last week there were several stories in the papers and on television about the danger of bisphenol leaching from plastic drinking bottles. I was busy and did not really pay much attention but with the cold weather this weekend I thought I would use the Google and see what I could find out. Learned a lot. Seems I need to quit listening to rumors. I was always told that you should not use pop bottles for water because they are difficult to clean and bacteria in the bottles could present a health risk. The alternative, Nalgene and other hard plastic bottles. Little risk of bacteria because they are easier to clean but there is a lot of concern about bisphenol leaching from the plastic and getting in the water. According to a 2005 article from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:
Of 115 published animal studies, 81 percent found signiﬁcant effects from even low-level exposure to BPA. While none of the 11 industry-funded studies found signiﬁcant effects, over 90 percent of government-funded studies did so.
Adverse effects include:
• Early onset of puberty, and stimulation of mammary gland development in females
• Changes in gender-speciﬁc behavior
• Changes in hormones, including decreased testosterone
• Increased prostate size
• Decreased sperm production
• Altered immune function
• Behavioral effects including hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, impaired learning and other changes in
Ever wonder how industry studies find that there is no issue but the government, 9 out of 10 times discovers the presence of bisphenol.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy included a simple chart to help assess the risk that plastics present when used to store food and water.
Seems that most soft drink bottles are #1 plastic which is safer. If you choose to continue using bottles manufactured with #7 plastic many articles suggest that you do not warm or freeze liquids in the bottles and consider not using scratched bottles because the scratches harbor bacteria and may speed the transfer of bisphenol.
I am going to go out and buy a stainless steel bottle and say goodbye to Nalgene.
Last week Google announced a new feature to its very popular maps. Billed as an attempt to highlight the beauty of an area, Google maps are intended to "focus on physical features such as mountains, valleys, and vegetation." Google states that the maps contain labels for even very small mountains and trails and are enhanced with subtle shading that can often give a better sense of elevation changes than a satellite image alone. Below is a map that I started building of some of the hiking destinations around Calgary. Hit the terrain button to use the new feature
Unfortunately the map does not permit the use of this tool to plan detailed hikes around Alberta but as the data improves it might prove to be a useful tool.
I spent the weekend hiking in Elbow Valley. Started with Powderface Ridge on Saturday and then hiked the Elbow Valley Trail/Riverview Loop on Monday. Both days were incredibly windy. The storm really moved in on us on Saturday. Wind speeds in Kananaskis (Nakiska) were reported on both days gusting in excess of 70 kilometers. Sure felt like they were hitting that speed in the Elbow Valley. The wind on Saturday near Powderface Ridge was loud enough to drown out the rally drivers that were driving on the gravel at the end of highway 66 near Elbow Falls. Google Alerts found me some great shots of the cars on Biz. After being pelted on the hill by snow I think I should have watched the cars.
On Monday, I thought the trees were going to come down around me. I am not sure if the damage is from this weekend but there are a lot of trees down on the ridge on the Elbow Valley Trail. It is obvious that they have fallen very recently. There are a lot of sections like the one below.
I am always amazed that these trees fall down in such large numbers until you see the size of the root ball.