We woke up Sunday morning to sunshine and balmy -11 weather (or at least it was balmy compared to the prior weeks weather). We had plans to go snowshoeing in Kananaskis Country with a couple of friends that we had met at work. Shantal and John were our companions on this beautiful day of hiking.
The weekend prior to this one was spent doing a small hike to Troll Falls and then a scouting mission to the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. So on this day we were going to attempt the hike around the eastern and northern shore of the Upper Lake. David had talked to a few of the park staff before the hike, they had suggested our route due to the avalanche conditions on the southern shores of the lake. You can see the north and south shores on the map of the area.
On the trail and shorelines, we were greeted with sunshine, mountains, and untouched snow. We were the first ones since the last snowfall to break trail along the lake. In some places, there were 3 feet of snow, others, it was near 5-6 feet. Dave made several demonstrations of the depth, unwillingly, but funny anyway! The trail was beautiful but challenging. Dave and John led the way while Shantal and I kept our own happy pace on already padded down snow.
Along the way we saw many interesting ice formations. The thickness of the ice was astonishing, it must have been about 1/2 a meter to a meter thick! We laid down, with our noses to this cold glass like surface and cheerily searched for fish frozen in the ice. Shantal insisted that this was something we needed to find, and so our search continued throughout the hike. When looking into this "ice sculpture" you could see rainbows dancing on the remenants of what used to be a pile of stone. As we would later find out, the water level of the lake had been significantly higher due to a malfunction of the dam. When the water was finally released, ice formations remained on the islands and rocky shorelines of the lake. We ended up crossing portions of the lake and following the lake shore a few times, making for interesting ice discoveries.
The hiking was slower but enjoyable. We had it in mind that we were going to try and find the Upper Kananaskis lake waterfall, which was around the half way mark of the trail and about a km from the lakeshore. Unfortunately we found ourselves looking in the direction of the falls, knowing that we would never make it there and back before sunset because of the snow depth and the buswacking that would be involved. So, we settled for a picnic of snacks, sandwiches and hot chocolate. With our tummies warm with food and drink we set out for our return trip. The way back was easier and seemed to go quicker as now our path was definately padded down.
As we headed back we turned around only to see a storm front coming over the mountains heading in our direction. We were glad at that point that we had made the decision to turn around and retreat to the car. All in all it was a beautiful day with great company and good times. Can’t wait to do it again!