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.
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.