More Snowshoeing for Snow Mountain Addicts and the Vertigo-Inclined

Snowshoeing across footbridge. Rocky Mountains, near Black Prince.  Kananaskis Mountain ridge, Alberta. Feb. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker
Snowshoeing across footbridge in light, no wind snowfall. Rocky Mountains, near Black Prince. Kananaskis area, Alberta. Feb. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker

After postponing our December snowshoeing trip, because Jack was abit sick and again, after 2 separate January trips to Banff with snowshoeing intentions, we finally did our annual snowshoeing trip. In the Rocky Mountains north of Kananaskis Mountain area and under the snow-veiled shadow of the Black Prince, a locally known peak.

It was our first snowshoeing foray with a group of 15 people, organized by the Outdoor Sports Centre, University of Calgary. They offer well over 15 different trips each winter.

In a group of others,  it made us realize that we had snowshuffled  far out on our own in self-guided trips over the past decade.  Some of our trips were highlighted  in my last blog post.  Most of our snowshoeing trips covered about 10-18 kms. per trek.  If we stayed somewhere in a ski resort, we would  snowshoe for 4-5 hrs. each day for several consecutive days.

Pausing under mountain shielding snowfall for lunch. By Black Prince, Kananaskis area Alberta. Feb. 2011. Photo by J. Chong
Pausing under mountain shielding snowfall for lunch. By Black Prince, Kananaskis area Alberta. Feb. 2011. Photo by J. Chong

The trip was originally planned for the Sawmill Ridge area.  It was a warm, gentle 4 degree C morning in Calgary.  We wondered if it was going to be a sticky snow, slushy trek.

However  2 hours later, our van climbed north and deeper into the mountains, through whipping 50 kms. winds and white-outs across open fields.  Thankfully our guide, “Aspen”,  decided to turn the van steering wheel to a shorter and wind-protected snowshoeing route tucked in among the pine, spruce and fir forests. We still had ever-changing views of mountain ranges through a gentle veil of dry snowfall.   We were grateful since we were a photo shooting, non-competitive group looking for fun and fantastic scenery.

Birthday snow hike by river on a cold -28 degree C morning. Banff, Alberta Jan. 2011.
Birthday snow hike by river on a face-biting cold -28 degree C morning. Mt. Rundle in background. Banff, Alberta Jan. 2011. Just too cold for snowshoeing in wilderness.

Unfortunately we didn’t spot any moose since this area does have a few moose lumbering in the lowlands. Moose like swampy or moist low-lying areas and  meadows fringed by protective woods.

Various areas nearby are prone to avalanches so the uninitiated should tramp about with an experienced snowshoe guide.

Snowshoeing Conquers Fear of Heights
Someone pointed out that snowshoeing allows me to enthusiastically penetrate  mountain wilderness areas where I would normally wobble down on cross-country skis or pick my step around narrow mountain side trails.  I do have some fear of heights.

By Spray Lakes path north of Banff, Alberta. Jan. 2011. A non-snowshoeing hike since snow depth was insufficient.
By Spray Lakes path north of Banff, Alberta. Jan. 2011. A non-snowshoeing 16 km. hike with ever-changing scenery.

I first came face to face with this fear in my late twenties, when we were hiking a narrow rocky trail by the Agean Sea on the Greek island of Santorini.   I barely made it across the ¼ km. of rock and sand.Another time, I ended up with aching upper thigh muscles for several days because I could barely descend a no-rail, open staircase that curved around an open pit, dark stairwell inside a lighthouse by Georgian Bay, Ontario.   The lighthouse was only four stories high but I only made it up three-quarters up the stairwell before I descended with legs shaking like jelly.  Rail trestle bridges converted for cycling in British Columbia, are fine as long as I don’t look down at my pedaling feet, crossing wood ties with light filled spaces plunging 100-500 metres down into a valley or canyon.  I haven’t yet walked across Capilano Bridge in North Vancouver.  At times, there are steady mountain ascents while snow tramping in the woods.

Snowshoeing deep into wind protected forest. Kananaskis area, Alberta Feb. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker. At times, there are steady mountain ascents while snow tramping in the woods.
Snowshoeing deep into wind protected forest. Kananaskis area, Alberta Feb. 2011. Photo by HJEH Becker. At times, there are steady mountain ascents while snow tramping in the woods.

But puffy piles of pure lush snow, obliterates steep, long declines and narrow twisty turns.  The descent on mountain sides are softened as the eye sees kilometres of  white purity rolling downward with trees bedecked in  snowy chiffon swaths and snow frost- swirled tophats.   No doubt, I’m guided by childhood memories of rolling and sliding down snowy, non-rocky hills.

Snow cocoons each mountain snowshoe hike by softening each step in knee-deep fluffiness.  Snow blunts an occasional fall or stumble into dimpled puffiness of snow candy.  You may not find me creeping up and down steep Mayan temple steps, but give me a marked snowshoeing trail up a mountainside and I will gleefully descend and fall in step with you to marvel the magnificent snowscape.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. micki says:

    wow! I think I would have lost in this trip and could not find the way back without an experienced snowshoe guide! I am scared of heights as well, so I can only handle the good condition trail~~ Beautiful snow mountain view you had!

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    1. Jean says:

      For sure, I almost have nearly become lost. Story was described in last blog post before this one. Better to get lost on bike on roads instead …out in white sameness of winter wilderness.

      Like

  2. timethief says:

    Hi Jean,
    Viewing these photos makes me shiver. I remember my childhood when we lived in the bush. I remember living in a trapper’s cabin in the North too.

    I trust you had a wonderful time and a great birthday too. 🙂

    Love,
    TiTi

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, a cold, but bright birthday. You’re pretty tough to have lived in a cabin up North. I’m sure it was during the days before Internet access was ubiquitous and fast. I would surely get cabin fever unless there was a hobby or 2, that consumed my attention.

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      1. timethief says:

        I love this theme change. You can really showcase your text and your photos using this theme. 🙂

        Like

  3. Jean says:

    I’m looking forward to exploring this theme template’s features. I still don’t understand entirely why my photos appear bigger but it’s a nice benefit. Stay tuned!

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  4. SM says:

    Wow! Kudos to you. My brother-in-law and his wife love doing this type of winter snowshoeing/hiking and they are part of a rescue team as well. Me, well, I would try if following the right people – I’d definitely get lost.

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    1. Jean says:

      Anyone who can walk, can snowshoe and see this amazing scenery. It’s a great work-out and certainly great for cyclists for cross-training.

      Like

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