canada general hiking moosling trip reports

Pigeon Mountain

Picking hikes in spring is always a bit tricky. Trails have started to dry, snow has kind of melted – but there are still snow patches and ices lurking about the place. It was really a bit too early to try hiking Pigeon Mountain. Based on what you could see from the road, Alex was convinced it would be dry – I was a little more dubious, but figured a little snow wouldn’t kill us.

We set off fairly late – it was afternoon by the time we started hiking. The day was sunny and warm, but slightly unsettled. I was slightly hungover, having been drinking last night while enjoying the Missed Connections improv show at ArtsPlace, and then wandering out to dance to an 80s cover band and engage in some ironic head banging (it may have been ironic but it still gave me a sore neck the next day).

It didn’t take us long to hit snow – unsurprising. It didn’t take long for my slight hangover to fade either. Thankfully.

It’s five kilometres up the road before you reach the turnoff for the Pigeon Mountain trail. If conditions are good (that is, the road isn’t covered in snow) then it’s worth bringing bikes to ride up to this point, if only for the coast back downhill again.

Having turned off onto the Pigeon Mountain trail things got icy in the trees and I finally caved and put on my spikers – if only to help Finn along. But the section through the trees doesn’t last long, and then suddenly we were out and into the alpine, above the treeline and finding huge stretches of dry trail again.

Dry trail that was climbing steeply, and covered with the huge herd of bighorn sheep. There were about 40 of them, mostly young looking, and carefully keeping out of our way.

We stopped for a brief lunch, then continued onwards and upwards, and it got windier and windier. Light saber battles unfolded across the scree fields. Rock sabers were wielded.

In the end we gave up on reaching the summit. Travelling through the snow had been slow, the wind was strong, and the daylight wouldn’t last forever. We went up to the saddle below the summit, and tried to pretend it was just as good. 6.8km in, it would still be a big return trip for an early season hike on small legs.

One of our party set off alone, aiming to make it to the summit without the aid of oxygen. The rest of us began the descent to base camp.

The clouds made empty threats, finally managing to cover up the sun but nothing more. Descending through the snow was not as fast as we’d like, and our shoes were getting wet – another spring hike where we’d underestimated how waterproof we should be. No bears on the way down, just more melting snow and out of tune singing.

Back at the car without injury six hours later, adventure completed. Success! Oh, except for the tick we found in Finn’s hair that evening – ew, ew, ew.

Distance: 13.6km
Elevation gain: 883m

bikes canada general moosling snow

The February of warmth, melting snow, and suspicion

When we weren’t sitting around eyeing weather forecasts suspiciously (“Surely it’s going to get cold again some time soon?!”), much of February was spent riding bikes from the left of frame towards the right:

The Prospector trail in Exshaw was alarmingly dry… and we spent more time trying to get the boy to pedal his trail-a-bike. And going on random explorations (in-between working on renovations… which are, by the way, a fantastic way to eat up every moment of your spare time).

There was some more skiing, as we gradually came to terms with the fact that there might not be a long nordic ski season this year. At least Moraine Lake Road still had snow!

And the Nordic Centre is always fun, slush and warmth are preferable to -25oC and windy as far as I’m concerned.

Also, jumping is fun.

Winter Carnival in Canmore came and went with a whimper – the pile of snow on the street kept trying to melt, even with extra snow being brought in to shore it up. The toboggan slope was great fun though.

And then the boy’s run bike was passed on to the next generation of biking toddler.

All of which serves to remind me that I really need to remember to take my proper camera a little more often, instead of relying on my phone camera.

bikes canada general

January catch-up

So, time has been escaping from me – somehow it’s the end of March now, and I have posted no words or images here since January. Possibly I no longer exist. In an attempt to fool you though, here are the some of the things I claim to have done in the rest of January.

Banff Mountain Madness Relay – The relay had been wildly shortened thanks to the un-seasonal melting of the Bow River, but we were still out to defend our honour as reigning champions. Sadly our first relay member crashed badly on the horrendously icy slopes of Mount Norquay. We ended up racing the rest of the relay legs anyway, telling ourselves that we wouldn’t bother to try too hard. We’re the kind of idiots who can’t help ourselves once we put a race bib on though, and so despite the fact we had already DNFed (Did Not Finish) we pushed ourselves as hard as we could. Fun times. We’ll be back next year to win that trophy again! (Although our skier has now been forbidden to do the ski leg)

Lunch break skiing!

Back in the optimistic days on January when we still assumed the snow coverage at the Nordic Centre would get better.

And then I bought a fat bike. There was much trialling of options, and long lunch rides in the snow, but eventually a deal came along in the form of a 2nd-hand white Salsa Mukluk, and I couldn’t resist. We’ve been out adventuring together through January and February, although as March has rolled around, it seems the snow has already melted.

canada general hiking snow trip reports

Winter Solstice sunrise

We did it! The sun is coming back! Huzzah to all Northern Hemispherians, the evil Southern Hemisphere is now bound to return our sun to us.

We left town at 6am, and hiked up to the summit of Ha Ling Peak to arrive just as the sky was starting to lighten, at around 7.45am. On the one hand, it was beautiful. On the other, it was very windy (the forecast was calling for 30km/hr, gusting to 50km/hr). There may have been some huddling.

Poor Lincoln was just about freezing to death.

There was some attempted photography inbetween bouts of huddling.

Then the rest of the crew made a brief stop at the summit.

At which point we all decided it was time to start heading down.

As we reached the saddle below the peak, the pink in the sky started to brighten with the sunrise proper, and we took a few more photos before scarpering back down the hill.

The trail is mostly in good condition at the moment – some ice lower down, but mostly packed snow. Two years in a row (three if you count the time I went up the day after solstice) this is becoming a solstice tradition.

canada general moosling snow

Some skiing

As the boy gets better and better on his skis, we’ve been luring him out to cover longer distances.

He doesn’t always want to go skiing though (as evidenced here, as he hangs onto the Chariot for dear life, preventing it from escaping without him.

And I did some ski orienteering, with 3 days in a row of events. And then got a little sad when it was all over. Because there’s just something about looking for orange and white markers that seems to make every activity more fun.

I also managed to ski 1000km this season, a largely pointless goal with no photographic evidence. But on the plus side I may be a slightly better skier now.