Rock Glacier is the progressively deteriorating flank of Mount Rae near Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
Mother Nature is staging a spectacular performance today as sunrise chases the drive west from Calgary, Alberta, Canada for 65 KM (41 miles) on the TransCanada Highway in very early morning. The descent on Scott Lake Hill into the Bow Valley Corridor reveals the pink front range of the Rocky Mountains with a backdrop of rolling, crimson cloud.
There are a hundred amazing pictures to be captured but the urge is quelled for the 70 KM (44 mile) drive south on the Kananaskis Trail through Kananaskis Country to Highwood Pass.
One important stop will allow photographing the glowing summit of The Fortress. The image will bring back fond memories of the ambitious climb, from the west Smith-Dorrien side, to the summit in August of 2002.
And further south, pictures of the Kananaskis Valley, now glowing in bright sun with cool-morning patches of mist remaining in the shadowed valley require a moment of photographic attention.
The early start is precipitated by a forecast for stormy weather in the afternoon. At higher altitudes in the mountains, this violent weather usually comes in fast and furious.
Wildlife is abundant and very active this early in the morning. Deer and elk are crossing the highway so it is necessary to SLOW DOWN and exercise EXTREME CAUTION. If only one animal crosses the highway, there is a very high probability there will many more crossing close behind.
They are very large animals who commonly travel in herds and seem to have a tendency to wait, then leap out of the woods directly into the front of a vehicle. The potential to have the vehicle badly damaged or destroyed is high at full highway speed (90 KM/Hr). People have lost their lives. Incredibly beautiful animals are destroyed. It is best to slow down and enjoy the amazing experience.
Rock Glacier is a pull-over stop along the Kananaskis Trail a couple of kilometers north of Highwood Pass. Close up, it is a huge and uninspiring pile of rock scree. However, it is an interesting pile of rubble.
This very large deposit of rock is caused by the gradual disintegration of the west face of Mount Rae over thousands of years. As the pile achieves greater mass from subsequent deterioration of the mountain, new ripples and mounds form. These eventually slide to make way for more rock to accumulate. Eventually the pile will slide across and block the highway.
The entire walk through the feature is about a kilometer long with an elevation gain of 50 feet. A chorus of elusive, but occasionally seen, picas (like tiny bunnies) are whistling.
Better images are captured on the next hike of the day into Pocaterra Cirque. A few of these photos, taken from several kilometers away at higher altitude, are included to provide a better perspective of Rock Glacier against the side of Mount Rae.