“Pic of the Week”, Bonus photos, August 6, 2013. Sunset over the Alberta Rocky Mountains

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Just wanted to share with everyone a lovely sunset I enjoyed yesterday as I was driving back to Calgary from the Crowsnest Pass.  There were scattered showers most of the afternoon and early evening, but the sunset as viewed from Highway 22 was lovely!  Highway 22 lies east of the Rockies and parallels them for more than 150 kms; the road takes you along the transition of the great plains with the mountains and is one of Alberta’s most scenic drives.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, then right arrow to advance the slideshow)

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“Pic to the Week” Bonus. Bow River flooding in Calgary

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This past week the Canadian Rocky Mountains were hit by severe rains, up to 8 inches (20 cm) in a day, that on top of a melting snow pack in the high alpine areas.  This resulted in severe floods in Southern Alberta the likes of which no one can remember.  Some say that in 1932 it might have been as bad, but this seems to be “the flood of a century”.

Canmore, gateway to Banff and the Canadian Rockies, was especially hit hard.  The town is still to a large extent isolated because the Trans-Canada Highway coming and leaving the town is closed at both ends because of flooding and damage.  Calgary was also hit with the flooding of the Bow …

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“Pic of the Week”. June 14, 2013. Crowsnest Mountain, Alberta

2013-Feb-012 Crowsnest Pass, Crowsnest Mountain

Alberta has many beautiful drives, one of my favorites being Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass in the extreme southwest corner of the province, just east of British Columbia.  The area has a colorful western history.  It was one of the first major train routes across the continental divide and in the early days of rail travel many steam trains from the United States diverted into Canada to make the relatively easy climb through the Crowsnest Pass before heading south into the USA.  The area is dotted with lots of abandoned mines; you’ll find the remains of a huge rock-slide (Frank Slide), and many beautiful Rocky Mountain peaks.

The grandest and most beautiful peak in the region is Crowsnest Mountain (2785m, 9138 ft), a very distinctive massif …

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“Pic of the Week”. February 22, 2013. Hayfield, Okotoks, Alberta

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When most people think of Alberta they visualize its thick green forests and ruggedly beautiful Rocky Mountains (I’m guilty of this as well).  Alberta is one of Canada’s three prairie provinces (can you name the other two?), so mostly it’s fairly flat land.  It’s on these prairies that much of Alberta’s treasures lie, from rich crops of canola to the world’s best beef, from dinosaur fossils to its oilfields.

One afternoon when my wife and I were driving to see the fall colors in the Rocky Mountains we drove past this hay field near the small city of Okotoks, not far from my home.  Something about the golden color of the grass, the neat orderly hay rolls and rolling land appealed to me …

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Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump, A UNESCO World Heritage Site

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I like direct clear-spoken people, so you can see why Native American names appeal to me.  “Head-smashed-in-buffalo jump” was just that — a place buffalo were chased off a cliff and killed for food.  (An alternative legend has the place’s name originating from a careless young warrior at the jump’s base who had his noggin smashed in by the half ton mass of a falling bison).

Located 18 km northwest of Fort Macleod, Alberta, where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet the great plains, is one of the world’s oldest, largest, and best preserved buffalo jumps.  Head-Smashed-In has been a communal hunting site used by aboriginal peoples for almost 6,000 years (until abandoned in …

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Kananaskis Country: A fall visit to Highwood Pass and the alpine meadow of Ptarmigan Cirque

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Kananaskis country is one of the lesser traveled gems of the Alberta Rockies.  Locals know this area well but it’s off the radar for most tourists traveling to the Rockies, who selectively go to such highly worthwhile (but much busier) locations like Banff and Lake Louise.  Kananaskis country stretches from the southern border of Banff National Park (Canmore) due south for several hundred kilometers.  It includes the same type of rugged mountainous beauty you expect in the Canadian Rockies, replete with lakes and streams and lush pine forests.   It’s also rich in wildlife but unlike Banff National Park, where a large fence keeps the animals away from traffic, the wildlife …

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Banff National Park: “Lake of the Spirits” (Lake Minnewanka)

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Lake Minnewanka is a great destination for a day’s visit (or longer if you’re so inclined) while in the Banff Rockies.  The lake’s name derives from the Stoney Indian language and means “lake of the spirits”.  Indian people lived around Lake Minnewanka for 100 centuries before it was “discovered “ by Europeans in the 19th century.   Lake Minnewanka is located just a few kilometers east of Banff with easy access from the Trans-Canada Highway.  The approach to the lake, as you drive past Mt. Rundle and Cascade Mountain, is inspiring!   There’s a large bachelor herd of bighorn sheep that frequent the roads in the area and if you want a chance to see some of these beautiful creatures up close, this is …

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Banff National Park: The Subalpine Splendor of Sunshine Meadows

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Those of us who enjoy hiking and backpacking grow impatient by early summer as we gaze to the mountaintops and their passes and wait for the snow up there to finally melt.  We busy ourselves with low altitude hikes and camping and such, but as much fun as these can be we know the best scenery and the greatest hiking awaits in those higher altitudes.  And when subalpine meadows emerge from their snowy blanket its time at last to start exploring!

In the Canadian Rockies the subalpine meadows are usually covered in snow until around the end of June or early July — and snow begins reaccumulating in early October, so the window of opportunity is narrow.  But during those few months there’s a short but intense growing season with lush meadows and a large number and diversity …

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