Skoki Loop in Late October

Skoki Loop in Late October

Skoki is one of the most popular backpacking areas in all of Banff National Park and usually you have to book months in advance if you want a chance at grabbing a spot in one of the crowded campgrounds. Unless you go in October, that is. After the warm days of summer have turned crisp & cold and before the ski lodge opens in December, you might just have this famous trek all to yourself. That’s what Sil and I found on our 4-day hike & snowshoe last weekend. Continue reading “Skoki Loop in Late October”

Spring Snowshoeing

Spring Snowshoeing

When the grass is turning green and the trees are starting to bud out, it’s hard to think of snow and snowshoeing. But this is one of the best times of the year to grab a pair and get high up in the mountains. The scenery is amazing. It’s still a winter wonder land. And the weather is gorgeous. It feels like summer. When else can you tramp through snow wearing shorts and a t-shirt?

Lake Bourgeau trail
Lake Bourgeau trail

We hiked up to three alpine lakes – Lake Bourgeau, Rockbound Lake, Taylor Lake – and at Stanley Glacier we enjoyed a sweltering afternoon watching avalanches thunder down high cliffs.

Who would guess it's May?
Who would guess it’s May?

You see strange things in spring. Like the marmot who snuck up on Michael and stole his hat, then disappeared silently across the snow. As soon as I pointed it out, the marmot froze and Michael swore it was just a rock.

Warming snow rolls into cinnamon buns
Warming snow rolls into cinnamon buns

Then you see things like snow sluffing off a slope and somehow rolling itself into the shape of a cinnamon bun. Actually, as crazy as it sounds, it’s almost impossible to make a snowball and roll down a hill when the snow is this sticky. With visions of Indiana Jones in our heads, we’ve tried to push massive snowballs down steep slopes in hopes that they would crash through the forest and crush all the cars in the parking lot below. But they just roll up into fat, long cinnamon buns. Then – plump! – they splat heavily into the snow. Nothing can move them then.

Avalanches thunder down the cliffs
Avalanches thunder down the cliffs

Nature does a much better job of hurtling snow over cliffs. As we got up into the alpine we thought we heard thunder. Only it was the intense sound of massive snow & ice chunks crashing down from the cliffs. This goes on all afternoon. It’s one of nature’s greatest shows. And it’s all free.

Shadow
Shadow
Taylor Lake
Taylor Lake
Sun and Shadow
Sun and Shadow

The best part of snowshoeing in spring is seeing nature come back alive. All shades of green start to return, adding colour to the deep blue sky and bright white ground. Birds sing and squirrels dart from tree to tree.

Pussy willows
Pussy willows

Winter and summer mix together. Minute by minute snow melts away letting even more life and colour appear. As nature transitions, so will we. Soon, we’ll be packing away the skis and snowshoes and digging out the hiking boots. And as we wander through fields of freshly bloomed wildflowers we’ll be dreaming of the return of snow.

Colour reappears
Colour reappears