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Published: March 7th 2013
Our theme was viewing the larches turning colour; our destination was Kananaskis Country. We drove along the Smith-Dorien for a while and parked at the day use area. The weather was glorious, just a little fall briskness to make us appreciated the sunny blue sky.
The first part of the trail was through a valley bottom meadow, easy walking with a few golden larches in the distance as enticement. Once into the treed area, the path headed uphill for the rest of the hike. A few twisted and some lone larches gleamed out of the dark green pines; these stood out because the dark trunks and limbs set off the gold needles. As soon as I stopped to take photos, the faster B group disappeared up the trail.
Because it seemed there was only one path, I wasn’t concerned about being lost, which led to my minor scare on that note. At the lake (dark and unattractively gloomy), I kept on the level path around the edge. At the point of having to clamber over a large tree root, I wondered why we were suddenly on such a difficult path. As the trail started to almost slide into the
Dramatic tree greets us!
lake, I began to consider that I was on the wrong path and might be almost lost. As I began to retrace my steps (up over the tree root again), I heard the voices of the slow B group climbing up around this lower path. Not at first obvious, I later realized it was more sensible. For some reason, I didn’t process that in fact we were now on the extra walk up to Elephant Rocks – possibly because the lake was so unattractive, I thought there must be a better view further on.
This path was steeper but good underfoot and only a kilometre long. The larches improved with every step – groves of them with more needles. Took a few moments to recognize that the paths were yellow because of the continuous faint fall of larch needles.
The grand prize at the top was scattering of huge erratics, left-over reminders of the Ice Age. As we came through a tight space between a few of the large, round rocks, we saw a man perched in a turquoise shirt at the top of the highest, smallest and seemingly precariously balanced stone. Less brave and less young, we
settled at the foot of these Elephant Rocks to munch our sandwiches and vegetables.
After lunch a few of us took a short walk away to another collection of rocks; these were sharp, not rounded, and seemed to be composed of layers. I wonder if they are related at all to the others.
Time for the return walk, all downhill now. For a little variety we took the path around the lake where I had been “lost”. In the afternoon light Chester Lake looked much prettier and the surrounding mountains more sweeping and majestic.
I tried to walk faster than my usual careful passage down, because I noticed that the faster walkers keep their balance by using their confidence rather than stumbling over minor obstacles. After an hour of this, my knees were beginning to protest. As anticipated, the A group caught up to us and passed at speed, calling cheerful hellos.
Tot: 1.369s; Tpl: 0.066s; cc: 28; qc: 119; dbt: 0.0691s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb