Springtime in the Foothills of the Canadian Rockies

How do I know spring is here?

It’s the tired pup in the back of the car at the end of a warm hike up Prairie Mountain, outside of Bragg Creek (just west of Calgary, Alberta).

Taylor in the boot - of the car! (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

Taylor in the boot – of the car! (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

The flowers are starting to show their glorious colour!

Prairie crocus - one day out! (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

Prairie crocus – one day out! (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

I’m playing pickup on the river as my guy and his friends come down the Bow River from Ghost Dam with huge smiles on their faces.

Shuttle pickup for my kayaker and his pals on the Bow River. (Photo credit: M, Kopp)

Shuttle pickup for my kayaker and his pals on the Bow River. (Photo credit: M, Kopp)

“Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.”
― John MuirThe Wilderness World of John Muir

Long Weekend Skiing at Dave Henry Lodge

My friend pulled down a book from the narrow, wooden shelf high above the front window. It was “The Book of Awesome” by Neil Pasricha. The gist of the book is enjoying the little things in life – like waking up in the morning and realizing it’s a Saturday.

Dave Henry Lodge, Valemount B.C. (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

Dave Henry Lodge, Valemount B.C. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Or like standing on the main floor of Dave Henry Lodge, high in the mountains above Valemount, B.C. with two long-time friends and a half dozen or so new acquaintances, brooms and snow shovels and flattened cardboard boxes in hand, trying to coax a pine marten out from behind the indoor woodpile. And trying not to squeal like a little girl as the marten flies past the blockade of plastic ski boots, brooms, shovels, and cardboard and hides under the red and black benches surrounding the long table.

Live trapped and awaiting relocation. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Live trapped and awaiting relocation. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Awesome is walking down the narrow staircase from the sleeping bunks at 6:30 a.m. smelling fresh coffee wafting from the kitchen and seeing thick snow falling outside.

It’s having your guy give up a day of ripping up the slopes with the strong skiing group to find the perfect hero snowpatch for you to yo-yo up and down all day – and then complimenting you on your awesome descent through the thickly treed slope back to the cabin. Plus, it’s catching duplicate ear-to-ear grins on the faces of the lakeside snowshoers and steep and deep skiers at the end of the day.

My guy... (Photo credit: M. Kopp)

My guy… (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

...and I! (Photo Credit: B. Kopp)

…and I! (Photo Credit: B. Kopp)

Could it be just sitting in the low-roofed sauna with a cold beer, a bucket of snow and the irrepressible impulse to throw a snowball at your sauna mates?

Awesome is happy hour beginning with red grape salsa on goat cheese crostini and a guys versus gals game of Sequence, chasing it down with baked steelhead and round of travel and adventure tales and topping it all off with raspberry Linzer torte, Irish-cream laden coffee and a dollop of whip cream.

It’s having one of your new friends point out the silhouette of a hawk-owl perched high on a conifer tree in the middle of the day.

Maybe it’s skimming the tops of two snow-capped passes and banking hard right as the helicopter soars back towards spring.

Passes between Dave Henry and Swift Creek. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Passes between Dave Henry and Swift Creek. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

How was the weekend?  A whole lot of awesome.

  “Because, life’s too short, my friends. Let’s squeeze in as many laughs as we can get.
– Neil Pasricha

A little snowboot downward dog! "“Because, life’s too short, my friends. Let’s squeeze in as many laughs as we can get.”  - Neil Pasricha

A little pre-ski downward dog. Can someone help him back up? (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Snagmore Trail

What’s in a name? Inspiration – perhaps!

Snagmore – snag more time outdoors. That’s what I did this weekend.

Overlooking the Elbow River from Snagmore Trail. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Overlooking the Elbow River from Snagmore Trail. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Snagmore is one of the dozens of new trails that have been developed within the West Bragg Trail System in Kananaskis Country just west of Calgary, Alberta in the past few years. Built as a mountain bike trail, it’s still multi-use and the winter hiking options are brilliant.

Spending time outdoors feeds the soul – and for that reason, alone, I’d like to thank the volunteers who maintain this network of trails.

Thanks!

Did You Know?
The Great Bragg Creek Trails Association (GBCTA) is a volunteer organization designing, building and maintaining trails in the area. They groom winter cross country ski trails; build mountain biking routes; and maintain trails – such as Snagmore.

P.S. GBCTA is always looking for extra hands to help with special projects.

 

.

 

Where to Stay in Ireland?

Getting excited! (Photo Credit: A. Kopp

Getting excited! (Photo Credit: A. Kopp)

My girl and I are off to Ireland in the not too distant future. She sent me a link today for a possible place to stay – glamping in a country manor garden. ‘Glampers’ receive a ‘glamping box’ on arrival with matches, water, specialty apple juice, a jar of homemade chocolate cookies (sold!), maps of the estate and a torch and head-lamps. Cool!

Yes, it’s time to start the planning phase of where to stay in Ireland. We already know we don’t have enough time to explore Northern Ireland this go ’round. For now it’s a few days in Dublin before working our way west towards Killarney and north toward Galway before completing the loop back towards Dublin.

What are our accommodation preferences?

1. Budget… but does that mean a hostel? Possibly, especially if it includes an element of  number 2.

2. Unique... not a chain… but not so quirky we can’t sleep.

3. A place with intriguing backstory. It could be something about the building’s history or the owner/manager’s background and how they came to be running the place.

Okay travellers, I’m asking for your advice.

Where would you recommend we stay? Why is this the place not-to-be-missed?

Looking forward to your brilliant suggestions!

 

Parks Canada: A Rosy Welcome

Parks Canada initiated a fun program last year called The Red Chairs Experience. The idea was to place red chairs in special places within Canada. Visitors are then encouraged to discover their locations and share their experiences with others via social media outlets. It’s a cheerful way to help spread the wonder of our landscape.

Imagine my happiness when I stumbled across said chairs in Kootenay National Park. The pop of colour mid-winter is a boon. My guy and I were taking the short, but scenic stroll up Marble Canyon’s interpretive trail to the 40 m/130 ft deep gorge of Tokumm Creek to check out ice formations when we spotted this rosy pair.

A duo of red Adirondack-style chairs at Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

A duo of red Adirondack-style chairs at Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park. (Photo Credit: M. Kopp)

Although I was aware of the program before our discovery, this is the first pair of chairs that I’ve come across. Quick research suggested that 11 of these rosy duos can be found in different locations in Banff, 2 along the Icefields Parkway, 2 in Yoho National Park, 2 in Kootenay National Park, and 6 in Jasper National Park (as well as other parks across Canada).

If You Go: Marble Canyon can be accessed off Hwy 93 (17 km/10.5mi south of the Trans-Canada Hwy). The trail which criss-crosses the canyon is a short 0.8 km/0.5 mi one-way. Note: Stairs can be icy in winter; boot grips recommended.

Where have you discovered the red chairs?