The snowshoe on the shoreline of Upper Kananaskis Lake is a scenic hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
Everything is going fine until cresting Scott Lake Hill begins the descent into the Bow Valley Corridor.
Then all Hell breaks loose.
This winter day is forecast to be unseasonably warm and windy. The drive over Scott Lake Hill along the TransCanada West encounters powerful gusting winds which are pushing the tiny Toyota all over a highway dangerously littered with debris.
Gravel from somewhere else is peppering the windshield. All big rigs have pulled to the side of the road and parked. Vehicle speed is reduced from the limit of 110 KM/Hr (68¾ miles/hour) to 80 KM/Hr (50 miles/hour) which allows the car more stability but it flips in and out of overdrive fighting to maintain forward momentum against the powerful westerly wind.
Kananaskis Trail South over Morley Flats offers little relief but the drive further south reduces wind gradually until arrival at Upper Kananaskis Lake parking area, where calm prevails again under overcast sky.
Upper Kananaskis Lake resides south of and above Lower Kananaskis Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
This winter wonderland is a recreational paradise and today is ideal for some easy, flat, snowshoeing on trail around the south shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake. The trail-head is obvious at the upper south end of multiple parking zones.
Although Upper Kananaskis Lake is only a few hundred feet higher and a short distance west of Lower Kananaskis Lake, the snow here is substantially more prolific.
Today's intent is to snowshoe 3.0 KM (1⅞ miles) south and west along the shoreline of Upper Kananaskis Lake and return the same way. At the beginning, blue sky is opening up over the Opal Range and there is guarded optimism for some sunshine.
Near the 1.0 KM (⅝ mile) mark, the bridge crosses frozen and snow-blanketed Sarrail Creek at a particularly beautiful place with a wonderful view across Upper Kananaskis Lake to the mountains of the Opal Range.
To the left is Sarrail Falls, completely hidden by snowpack over ice. The sound of the water falling over submerged rock is present but there is no visual evidence a significant waterfall exists beneath the snow and ice.
Views from Sarrail Creek Bridge, across Upper Kananaskis Lake, to the Opal Range are incredibly beautiful.
Soon after continuing past the Sarrail Creek Bridge, the junction to the 2.7 KM (1¾ mile) Rawson Lake Trail veers off to the left on a steep and relentless ascent beyond what recovering heels will endure.
The trail to Rawson Lake is spectacular in every season and one of the very best classic hikes.
Continuing the snowshoe west along the south shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake, passes over snow drifts where powerful winds have swept the lake clean over thick, black ice and created substantial areas of dead fall.
Major snow drifting has obliterated large sections of trail. The off-trail alternatives in deep snow provide excellent exercise.
Near the end of my planned 3.0 KM one way (1.9 miles) snowshoe trail is obliterated and forward progress is no longer feasible.
Before heading back, the snowshoe off-trail from the forest to the edge of the downward-beveled, turquoise ice at shoreline allows enjoying the inspiring beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains.
The blue sky previously building over the eastern mountains is closing to grey and heavy weather is rolling in from the west.
For several reasons it becomes expedient to return to the trail-head at the parking area before heavy weather potentially creates a compromising situation.
The wind begins to pick up, temperatures are dropping and a dusting of corn snow begins.
Building breeze forces a return to the trail in forest which will provide some shelter as the return snowshoe proceeds to the parking area. Weather can change dramatically and rapidly at higher elevations.
There are a couple of people, barely visible, who are busy on the lake surface near the peninsula on the other side of Upper Kananaskis Lake, probably ice fishing.
Originally, on completion of the 6 KM (3.8 mile) snowshoe along the south shore, the plan was to snowshoe across the dam and tackle the ridge of Mount Indefatigable for a short distance to enjoy excellent views over Lower Kananaskis Lake from Wendy Elekes Viewpoint.
Deteriorating weather will require leaving this for another day.
The drive north on Kananaskis Trail to Calgary is initially in heavier snow, changing to light rain on the approach to the TransCanada Highway.
Apparently, the rain has energized wildlife because it is necessary to stop the car several times to allow herds of deer, elk, and mountain sheep to cross Kananaskis Trail.
Always a great day to enjoy winter in Kananaskis Country.