Camping in the Rockies at 6,000′

Check out the photos of my big adventure this year!

Spray River Valley on the Palliser Pass Trail, ABIn early August 2015 I joined the Skyline Hikers, along with my friends Kate and Jane, and camped at 6,000′ in the Spray River Valley, south of Canmore, AB. We hiked for six days, including in and out the 20 km to the camp site near Leman Lake, over into BC’s Albert Valley (250 m elevation gain/ 12km round trip) and up to the Burstall Pass overlooking the Kananaskis Range (457m elevation gain/12 km round trip).

The weather was great from Monday to Friday afternoon, getting to around 28C through the day and down to zero at night. But we had wood stoves in the tents, which took the chill off in the morning and when we went to bed. Thanks to Jane for getting it started for us every day!

The tents were good-sized canvas, held up by recently cut sapplings. The other hikers were a fascinating group of people, mostly in their 70’s – all interested and interesting – and they contributed to half the enjoyment of the whole week.Camp near Mount Leval and Mount Leman, AB

Parks Canada goes to a lot of trouble to protect the wilderness from people and animals. Horses receive special feed to avoid depositing non-native plants in the area. People must hike in groups of between 4 and 10, with the group staying very close together so as not to entice wildlife to pounce on the “little one at the back”. There is an electric fence around the camp to keep out bear and moose and other larger creatures. We were over-run with smaller animals, whose homes we were camped over! Fresh water is available at camp, through a filtration system – but the rivers this year are very low so it apparently took more effort to get this organised. About 1 litre of hot water available every day to wash. Lots of good food – the trail mix was hardly needed at all, except on the last day.

I have set out a page for every day except the last one, when we hiked back out the 20 km to civilization in the rain. It felt a bit like World War I – mud, rain, ponchos and packs. Too cold to stop for long to eat so the trail mix (GORP) came in handy that day. No pictures taken either, for obvious reasons.

I found it difficult to get the kind of shots I usually take – the landscape is so enormous. There are some images here I will be adding to my main portfolio when I get a moment over the next few weeks.

Clouds in New Mexico

One of my “New Mexico Clouds” images has been accepted for inclusion in a Beautiful Clouds and Skies marketing collection.  It is the first one shown below.

The clouds in New Mexico are unlike anything we have here in British Columbia.  On the plains, at high elevation, they are enormous and white and almost Biblical in dimension and power.  When it rains, it rains hard!

Difficult to choose the image to show you here – which is your favourite?

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Perthshire Waterfalls

In November, the two days I spent between Pitlochry and Dalwhinnie were a bit dreich.  The colours of the leaves were not really coming through very well.  I went in search of waterfalls to test my new ND filter, which lets you really slow down the shutter speed, to get a silky-smooth effect on the water.

These were taken at the Black Spout, Pitlochry and at the falls behind the House of Bruar outside Blair Atholl and along the south side of Loch Tay.

photocrati gallery


Kilby, BC In The Fall

We went out to Kilby at the confluence of the Harrison River and the mighty Fraser River.  The salmon were starting to come upstream to lay their eggs and we could see them jumping as they made their way to the sandy spawning grounds.

It rained most of the weekend but I got some shots of the roadside leaves and hedgerows.

Morning Glory at Kilby, BC - the bane of every garden in British Columbia.  Yet it is a valued flower in Ontario!
Morning Glory at Kilby, BC – the bane of every garden in British Columbia. Yet it is a valued flower in Ontario!

My Favourite Mountain – West Spanish Peak, CO

Near La Vetta, CO is West Spanish Peak, a wonderful mountain with a couple of ridgebacks leading up its side.  It is on the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where Robert Oppenheimer used to trek on horseback, while he was managing the Manhattan Project. There are always interesting clouds in the area and sometimes it can be quite dark and stormy. We pass this mountain on Hwy 160 between Walsenberg and Ft Garland, on our way to Taos, NM.  The road sits between 7,500′ and 8,000′ and West Spanish Peak rises very steeply to 13,626′ (4,153 m) – not unusual for this part of the world. [Nerd fact: It is apparently the easternmost US mountain over 4,000 m.]

The picture was taken in 2010, when we first took this road.

In southern Colorado, by the New Mexico border
In southern Colorado, by the New Mexico border