Consolation Lakes Hike & Moraine Lake

This weekend I completed the short but sweet hike to Consolation Lakes. Sadly I forgot the memory card for my Canon EOS R at home, so I was stuck with my trusty iPhone XS. Luckily I have an app called ProCam, which allows you take take photos in RAW format, so that you can edit them later on in Adobe Photoshop.

The hike starts from the Moraine Lake parking lot and heads east, over Moraine Creek on a fairly new bridge. Off to the right there is a 300 metre long path up some steps to have  a beautiful view of the lake. I don’t actually ever recall seeing this vantage point in the past, but my parents may have taken me there as a child.

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After viewing the lake. I continued along the 6 kilometre trail towards Consolation Lakes. Near the Tower of Babel I had to cross the river again, but this time there wasn’t a bridge, so I had to hop along the rocks.

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Continuing further towards the lakes there is the fast moving Babel Creek off on the left hand side.

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The path towards the lakes was very well kept until the last few minutes, where it was a bit muddy. Parks Canada even did a very nice job in the areas that tend to get washed out by building a raised-up pathway area.

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When I arrived at the lake I was awe struck at the beauty of the lake. There was a few ducks Wood Ducks swimming in the lake, as well as a few Marmots. I wasn’t able to take great pictures of these with my phone. While sitting and admiring the view I could hear and see the glaciers in the background cracking and falling.

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After taking in the views it was time to head back, as there was a storm about to roll in. The hike took me just over an hour and a half to complete.

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Vista Lake & Arnica Lake Hike

On June 19th 2020 I completed the 9.2 km (return) hike to Arnica Lake in the beautiful Banff National Park.  The hike starts with a slight downward grade towards the beautiful Vista Lake where you can see a view of Storm Mountain, which raises nearly 3100 metres above sea level. After you arrive at Vista Lake you begin a 1.25-1.5 hour 600 metre elevation gain grind towards the top.

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Half way to the top I arrived at a tiny, yet mirror perfect lake, before continuing towards the top.

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About 15 minutes towards the top I was in waist deep snow, and even saw a reasonable fresh bear footprint in the snow. After arriving at the lake I enjoyed the beautiful view before heading back towards the parking lot. The total trip took me about 2.75 hours.

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Chephren Lake Hike

On June 12th 2020 I completed the 7.7 km (return) hike to Chephren Lake. The lake is located just a few kilometre’s north of Saskatchewan Crossing, Alberta. Numerous sources of information stated that the hiking trail was closed, but after some extraordinary research I found it to be open. The Waterfowl Lakes Campground was closed, but the hiking trails in the area were still open. I arrived at the trailhead at 10:45am to beautiful sunshine and 18°C weather. The hike to the lake took about 1 hour, and within 5 minutes of arriving at the lake a massive dark cloud had rolled in and started to rain on top of me. The trail up was fairly muddy, but I’m sure the mud will have cleared up within 3-4 weeks. I took some pictures and then started the 45 minute trail run back to the car.

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Frank Lake

Over the past few weeks I’ve visited Frank Lake a few times; once with my friend Hadrian, and once with my girlfriend Julie. Frank Lake is a restored wetland area located about 45 minutes Southeast of Calgary, which is my hometown.

The earliest recorded history of the lake dates back to 1883 from Survey reports referring to it under multiple names such as Begg Lake, Green Lake, and Windsor Lake. It was eventually named Frank Lake, after Bishop Christopher Frank, who established a nearby Mormon settlement known as Frankburg. In the early days the lake was used by hunters, who hunted waterfowl, and then shipped the waterfowl to the USA by rail. Eventually feedlots were established in the area and the east side of the lake was used for drinking water.

The lake became extremely dry in the 1930’s, 1940’s and again in the 1980’s (more on that later). This was also in contrast to massive flooding which occurred in the 1950’s and 1970’s. During the floods in the 1950’s Ducks Unlimited Canada, a conservation organization, constructed a drainage ditch to try to stabilize the water level. Further work on the wetlands occurred in 1975 when a weir was constructed on the south end of the lake. Sadly the lake became dry again in the 1980’s and it was decided that a pipeline was to be built to bring treated waste water from High River and the nearby Cargill meat packing plant to ensure a constant supply of water. One obscure note is that during World War 2 the area in the middle of the dry lake bed was used as an alternate landing field for the RCAF Station in High River.

During my visits I saw a bunch of beautiful birds, and even some rare birds. I saw a Black-Crowned Night Heron, some Red-Winged  Black Birds, some Yellow-Headed Blackbirds, hundreds of Pelicans, some Killdear, some Eared Grebe’s, some American Avocets, hundreds of Gulls, some White-Faced Ibis, some Black-Faced Ibis, some American Coot’s, Lesser Yellow-Legs, hundreds of Canadian Geese, and some Forster’s Tern’s.

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Also, I’m extremely proud to announce that I’ve been featured as one of Calgary’s best photographers of 2020 by The Best Calgary.

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Boom Lake Hike

On May 29th 2020 my friend Sara and I completed the hike to Boom Lake. The 10.3 km long and 543 metre of elevation gain hike to boom lake is on a well maintained trail through a luscious forest. It took us about four hours return, but I imagine you could easily shave off 30-45 minutes in the summer when you don’t have the snow to deal with. The first 45 minutes into the hike there was no snow and it was pretty smooth sailing. The next 30-45 minutes was ankle deep snow, for which we put our crampons on. The last 30-45 minutes to the lake had knee deep snow. We decided to wear our gaiters for this, but my feet still ended up getting soaked.

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We saw some canine or cat footprints that were larger than a dog, but smaller than a bear. I am very glad that we had our bear spray with us. The views at the still lake were absolutely amazing! We had lunch at the lake, before returning back to our car.

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Glacier Lake Hike

On June 5th 2020 I completed my fifth hike of the year. This hike was to Glacier Lake. The 16.9 km long and 870 metre of elevation gain hike to boom lake is on a well maintained trail mostly through a luscious forest.

About 1 km along the trail there is a bridge that crossed the North Saskatchewan River. The waters are a beautiful turquoise blue. After another 1 km or so you come to a pair of red chairs with a beautiful overlook of the Howse River valley.

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After a quick break at the chairs the trail follows the river flat and then climbs up along a creek. There are numerous rivers crossings on privative log bridges.

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As you begin the descent from the summit watch for signs on the trees and look to your right to see a tree blazed to commemorate the 1928 Topographical Survey, which was completed by Morrison Bridgland.

At the lake there is a campsite with a historic hut, a place for a campfire, and some picnic benches. I had some lunch here before returning to my car. The hike took me a total of 4 hours to do the return trip. This area is prime bear territory between July and August, due to berries along the river, so be sure to bring bear spray, an air horn, and a knife.

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Banded Creek Connector Bench Hike

As most of you know COVID-19 has making its rounds around the globe, infecting over 7.05 million people so far and taking the lives of 403,000 people as of the writing of this article on June 7th 2020. I was supposed to take an Eastern Europe roadtrip starting on March 18th 2020, ending on April 7th 2020. This trip has been postponed until further notice, but I will complete it when it is safe and socially acceptable to do so.

Despite these sobering statistics Canada has started to re-open the economy, and with that they have also re-opened the Provincial and National Parks. On May 24th 2020 Julie and I decided to go on a moderate difficulty hike called “Banded Creek Connector Bench” in the Bragg Creek area. This hike was my third hike of the season. I typically have a goal of completing 20 hikes per year, so I’m well under way already.

The hike was a 6.1 km long hike with 222 metres of elevation gain. It took us approximately 2.5 hours to complete, including a fifteen minute rest at the small wetland area at the end, and another fifteen minute rest at the small lake a bit further along. The trail conditions were fair, with a few muddy spots in the middle.

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Next week I plan on going on a hike with my friend Sara to Boom Lake. Stay tuned!

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Sparwood, Fernie, Frank Slide

As most of you know COVID-19 has making its rounds around the globe, infecting over 2.64 million people so far and taking the lives of 184,000 people as of the writing of this article on April 22nd 2020. I was supposed to take an Eastern Europe roadtrip starting on March 18th 2020, ending on April 7th 2020. This trip has been postponed until further notice, but I will complete it when it is safe and socially acceptable to do so. In the meantime I am following government guidelines and maintaining physical distancing from others.

Last weekend I needed to get out to get some fresh air. I didn’t want to be around others so I decided to drive around Southern Alberta with Julie to take some drone shots of some of my favorite places. We visited Sparwood, Fernie, and Frank Slide.

This 800km journey was completed in my new to me 2018 Toyota Prius PRIME, which I picked up about a month ago. I’ve already put 3800 kilometers on it, and it costs just pennies per kilometer to drive. The average fuel consumption is under 4l/100km.

The journey had a bit of excitement along the way because I had a catastrophic tire blowout along highway 3. It resulted in a 3 hour delay, with a $300 service call from OK Tire in Pincher Creek, about a 30 minute drive away. I ended up having to purchase new all-season tires for a total of $960 including the $300 service call. We made the best of it though.

The first stop was Sparwood, British Columbia. I hadn’t been here since 2005, when I rode through on my Yamaha R6 on my way to my friend Hadrian’s cabin. Sparwood is home to the world’s largest truck, the Titan 33-19, which was produced by General Motors. The Titan was conceived in 1968 in the General Motor’s offices in London. Six years later it was a reality and was showcased in the American Mining Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1974. It was used in the Eagle Mountain Mine by Kaiser Steel in southern California until 1978. In 1978, Kaiser Steel moved the Titan to its coal mining operation near Sparwood. The mine was subsequently acquired by Westar Mining in 1983, and the Titan was eventually retired in 1991. The mine was acquired by Teck Corporation in 1992 and offered the Titan in preserved format as a public monument in 1993. The Titan was fully restored by the end of 1993 and put on display, despite having its engine removed.

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The next stop was Fernie, where we walked around for a bit and took pictures of the old buildings, and I flew my drone over the beautiful old court house. Fernie was founded in 1904, and currently has a population of 9200 people. Fernie was originally founded because of Crowsnest Pass coal mines, which still continue to operate to this day. Like most single-industry towns, Fernie endured several boom and bust cycles throughout the 20th century. Today the town survives with a seasonal focus on skiing in the winter, and coal mining year round, but not as strong as it once was.

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The final stop was Frank Slide, where a rockslide buried the mining town of Frank on 4:10am on April 29th 1903. It was estimated that 110 million tonnes of limestone rock slide down Turtle Mountain and buried the town, which had a population of around 600 people. Approximately 90 of the 600 citizens died during the slide. The town was named after Henry Frank, who owned the Canadian-American Coal and Coke Company, which operated the mine that the town was created to support. The town was founded in 1901.

The cause of the slide was a multitude of factors. Mining left the formation in a constant state of instability, as well as a wet winter and cold snap on the night of the disaster. After the slide the railways was repaired within three weeks, and the mine was quickly reopened. The town was relocated in 1911 because of fears of another slide occurring. The town’s population doubled to 1200 by 1906, but quickly dwindled after the mine was closed in 1917. The community now is part of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and has a population of 200.

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A video of this adventure can be found on my YouTube channel here.

Check back soon for my next adventure. In the meantime wash your hands religiously, maintain physical distancing to flatten the curve, and stay safe. See you soon!

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Grotto Canyon in Winter

As most of you know COVID-19 has making its rounds around the globe, infecting over 936,000 people so far and taking the lives of 47,000 people as of the writing of this article on April 1st 2020. I was supposed to take an Eastern Europe roadtrip starting on March 18th 2020, ending on April 7th 2020. This trip has been postponed until further notice, but I will complete it when it is safe and socially acceptable to do so. In the meantime I am following government guidelines and maintaining physical distancing from others.

Last weekend I needed to get out to get some fresh air. I didn’t want to be around others so I picked a winter hike that I was fairly certain wouldn’t be too busy. I chose to hike Grotto Canyon, and I’m glad I had because I was the only person there until I was almost back at my car when a small group of people showed up. I completed this short hike in the summer with my father and really enjoyed it, and it provided a completely different perspective in the winter. I loved seeing the frozen waterfalls! If you want to check out my blog post from my hike in the summer you can check out my blog post here.

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USA – Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah – Part 1 of 2

In September 2017 my Dad and I went on a one week trip to the USA to explore the beautiful scenery that Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have to offer. I started my blog series in 2016 but due to 2017 being such a busy year for travel I actually forgot to write about this.

2017 USA Road Trip

Our trip started and ended in Las Vegas, Nevada. The reason for us starting the trip here was the frequency of flights offered from our home city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Non-stop flights can be had on Air Canada Rouge, WestJet for around $300-500 return if booked 45-90 days in advance. The savings can add up even more if you book a hotel and flight package.

We arrived on an evening flight and stayed at the Desert Rose Resort, which went for roughly $130 CDN a night back in 2017, but with a recent renovation has gone up to roughly $300 CDN a night. I can almost guarantee that you’ll get better value staying elsewhere now.

The next day we drove to Page, Arizona where we stayed the night. We had a few stops along the way at some nice slot canyons, but nothing as amazing as what we were going to visit the next day.

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Accommodation in Page was at the Motel 6 for roughly $60 CDN. For dinner we ate at State 48 Tavern, which I highly recommend. We both had burgers and beer.

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On Day 2 we woke up early and drove into the center of town to get picked up by Chief Tsosie Slot Canyon Tours to take us for a half day tour to Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. When we used them they drove us out in 20 year old pickup trucks with cages in the back, but they have recently upgraded to very nice shuttles that have air conditioning. Either way I highly recommend them!

Antelope Canyon is a two separate slot canyons located near Page, Arizona. Upper Antelope Canyon is known as “The Crack” and Lower Antelope Canyon is known as the “Corkscrew”. The Navajo also refer to Upper Antelope Canyon as “the place where water runs through the rocks”, and Lower Antelope Canyon as “spiral rock arches”. The canyons are formed by the erosion of the Navajo Sandstone due to flash flooding. Rainwater during the monsoon season runs into the slot canyons, picks up speed, and over time erodes away the sandstone, thus deepening the canyons. Flash flooding can occur suddenly and care must be taken; one such incident occurred on October 30th 2006 for 36 hours, and caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close the Lower Antelope Canyon for five months!

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After exploring Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon we explored Horseshoe Bend, which was just a few minutes away. Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe shaped meander of the Colorado River. The river has an absolutely beautiful blue-green tinge to it.

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After visiting Horseshoe Bend we drove to Flagstaff where we stayed the night at the beautiful Courtyard by Marriott for about $165 CDN a night. At the time it had just opened a week prior and still had the new hotel smell (formaldehyde). For dinner we ate at Flagstaff Brewing Company. The food was okay, but fairly greasy. The beer was very good though!

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On Day 3 we drove to Albuquerque, stopping at the Puye Cliff Dwellings about 1.75 hours north of Albuquerque. I forget where we stayed to be honest. We stopped at Nemesis Brewing Company for dinner and some beers. The food was quite delicious and the beers were extremely delicious; they even had some IPA’s which are my beer of choice.

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Be sure to check back soon for Part 2 of 2 of this USA road trip!

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