Black Prince Cirque passes Warspite Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
The early morning drive west from Calgary, Alberta on the TransCanada Highway, then south on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) is over clear, dry road. Early spring weather is dynamically fickle in the mountains and the drive proceeds alternatively under sun interrupted by brief snow showers. At the winter gate a brief jaunt west on Kananaskis Lakes Road intercepts the Smith-Dorrien Trail for the drive north about 10 KM (6¼ miles) on good but snow-covered gravel road to the turnoff and winding entry into the Black Prince parking area.
Ewa's rental snowshoes are technically superior to the aluminum framed pair I have been trudging around in for the past dozen years. This is a bit disconcerting so pondering this imbalance proceeds under a snow mushroom near the trail-head for the Black Prince Cirque. Perhaps an equipment upgrade is required.
This is Ewa's very first snowshoe. My responsibility is to lead and instruct. Snowshoeing is easy and similar to learning to walk gracefully in clown shoes. Hiking poles with snow baskets are important for stability and safety. Within a very short distance arrival at Smith-Dorrien Creek requires capturing scenic photographs prior to crossing the snow camouflaged bridge.
Today's objective is the snowshoe circuit on the 4.2 KM (2 ⅝ mile) loop into Warspite Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, south in Kananaskis Country, Alberta. Temperature is perfect for physical endeavor as the snowshoe experiences sun, light snow showers, calm, and the occasional gust of breeze that dislodges floating snow from the trees on easy grade uphill.
When trail is initially wide, snowshoeing in tandem is possible until narrowing trail requires changing to single file to avoid disturbing cross-country ski tracks.
Near the top of the hill, a left onto a snowshoe trail will lead to Warspite Lake. Final approach undulates through tight forest on narrow, unblemished trail, until the trail reaches the snow-laden boulder fields beneath Mount Warspite. Warspite Creek is buried under deep snow and the Warspite Cascades waterfall can be heard but not seen.
Emerging from the forest, the view across Warspite Lake is breathtaking to snow and ice laden sheer walls of Mount Black Prince which dominate the view. This is a magnificent place to rest.
Ewa's performance on the day is a disappointment. Although the camera remains perpetually at the ready, there is not a single face plant, nor does she slide off the trail unceremoniously into a deep tree well for the traditional tangle of body and branches. At no time was Ewa's head buried in snow with snowshoes twitching in the air. I mean, really, where is the pleasure in instructing someone when they get it all perfectly right? Ewa does herself proud and snowshoes like a veteran.
Completing the circuit initiates the return drive to Calgary with the music of Il Divo blaring on the car stereo and enhancing the grandeur of the mountainous route north through Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.