bikes canada general hiking snow

Smuts Pass, Birdwood Traverse and Burstall Pass

We planned a grand adventure for the day – from Canmore, then out to Smuts Pass, along the slopes of Birdwood, and over Burstall Pass, then back to Canmore.

First of all to ride along the dusty roads, through biting headwinds, along rough gravel, by many cars.

We attached the magnificent velocipedes to a hidden tree, snacked and tied on some speedy shoes.

Beating through the vicious creek until the valley opened, we began our ascent to Smuts Pass, where the trees finally relinquished their grasp on our flesh.

There we found snow, and trod carefully for fear of getting our shoes dampened.

We looked on the magnificent Mount Smuts and pondered the difficulty of reaching her summit.

Far below lay the Birdwood Lakes, turquoise and marvellous in their alpine splendor.

Then a small traverse, through inches of snow. We thanked the footsteps of those who had travelled before us and made our work easy.

Onwards, and under the mighty slopes of Mount Birdwood, majestic and looming.

We trod carefully as we travelled through yet more snow, our traverse continued.

And then, peering backwards, we admired our footsteps, and the slopes of Birdwood, the marvellous Smuts, and the perhaps less marvellous and certainly oddly named Smutwood.

Then finally Burstall Pass lay before us, with just the slopes of Snow Peak to sidle along before we reached the final pass of our day.

The sidling was long, hard and snowy, but then finally safely over and done. We had reached Burstall Pass and were now on a veritable highway of slush, jogging downhill and back to the flat land below.

From there, the journey to the velocipedes was long, yet not difficult. Except for the large amounts of fatigue in our feet and legs.

As darkness fell we retrieved the velocipedes, attached glowing lights to them, and soared home with a favourable wind at our backs and starry skies overhead. It was glorious.

Distance travelled: 80km (velocipede), 27km (on foot)
Elevation gain: 1130m (velocipede), 1050m (on foot)
Max elevation: 2424m

The foot portion of the day:

canada general snow

the weekend of fail

We were supposed to go skiing on the Rae Glacier, but the snow looked thoroughly uninspiring. Also we realised once we were on our way that none of us actually knew where the Rae Glacier was. So after driving around in K-Country for a while, we decided we’d just park where all these other cars were, and go for a walk and see what was there.

First we found a frozen lake, which was good for throwing rocks onto.


Elbow Lake


And then we managed to find the Rae Glacier, and weren’t too distressed about the fact we didn’t haul our skis up with us.


Rae Glacier


Maybe next weekend there’ll be snow?


The view from our knoll

canada general

sunny saturday



Canmore, from the top of Ha Ling Peak. Note the suspiciously snow-free mountains. It was really warm and calm until we neared the ridge line too – hardly a patch of snow to be seen on the ground.

There was a bit more snow to the south though.


canada general

the three sisters – canmore edition

I was walking past this viewpoint with someone the other day and saw people randomly pointing cameras off into the distance taking photos. We couldn’t work out what on earth they were taking photos of, until we remembered the mountains.



On another note, car doors are sometimes surprisingly heavy. It was 5.30am and I was sidling into the passenger side of the van, with the door only just open as there was another vehicle parked closely. I’d just dropped my bag into the foot well when the door gently swung closed. On my head. This led to pain and concussion and tenderness. I don’t recommend it. That was over two days ago and my head still feels a bit tingly.