Monday, 4 August 2008

Grotto Canyon

Amazingly, we had never been up this short hike in a canyon directly across the valley from our new place. We had a few hours to kill, so opted to go exploring.

The narrow canyon is hone to a raging creek for about 1 week of the year. The rest of the time it's just a spring fed trickle. The "hike" is actually mostly in the creekbed itself, since it's so narrow.

The sheer canyon walls are popular with climbers, and if you look carefully, you can find lots of permanent protection points bolted to the rock face.

The creek narrowly twists and turns then reaches a T junction. Most of the water in the creek comes from a short fork to the right, leaving to the left more narrow canyon, only with virtually no water in it. Soon, the canyon widens, and there's piles of material trying to turn into hoodoos -- or caves.

This is about as far as we went, but you can wander another km or so up the creek bed. I think where we stopped was a popular lunch spot, as we found balancing rock sculpture here.

The other attraction in this hike is aboriginal rock paintings. They're hard to find, partially vandalized, shellacked over to protect them, but still neat to see.

All in all, an interest, fairly effortless short hike that crowded with people.

Friday, 1 August 2008

FINALLY The Canmore Condo (& Wolves)

About time I got to posting about it, since it's been occupying pretty much every weekend for us since mid June.

After much thought and consideration, we finally bit the bullet and bought a condo in the mountains. We call it "The West Wing." It's in Canmore, or more precisely, about 3 km from Canmore in Dead Man's Flats.

We took possession on July 3rd, and have been prepping & moving ever since. So far, we have had the place painted from top to bottom, removed the bad window coverings, ripped up the old carpet in preparation of getting new carpet, moved in a sofa bed, the majority of the kitchen and some food. This coming weekend is dining room, then we'll do master bedroom, guest room and living room. We figure it should be fully equipped by September (just in time for us to head to France...).

The condo complex was built in 1991, and to be frank, before our real estate agent showed us a place in there in February, we didn't even know the condos existed. You can see that they're just off the Trans Canada, but you can't tell by us. It's only an 850 sq. ft. 2 bedroom, but the living/dining space is great. That, and the neighborhood is wonderful. Dead Man's Flats is a town of 150 people and 3 streets. It has 2 gas stations, 2 old small hotels, one B&B, one restaurant (aside from the greasy spoon in the Husky), a provincial campground and a new hotel complex being built.

And great views, like these from our balcony & windows:

To the west are the peaks over Canmore, including the Three Sisters, Mt. Grassi & Ha Ling Peak.

The neighborhood is great. We back onto Pigeon Creek, a small babbling brook that runs into the Bow River, which is only abut 300 m from our place.

Dominating the eastern view is Pigeon Mountain, here towering over the symbol of DMF: The Giant Husky Flag.

To the west is Mt. Lougheed. Everyone thinks this big peak is the top, but in fact, it's peak just to the left.

There's a beautiful campground in town, and a big grassy field where it turns out my neighbour likes to fire off his rockets.

All About The Wolves

Immediately east of our condo across Pigeon Creek is nothing but wilderness. Well, they plan on building some houses, but for the time being, there's just the sewage treatment plant, and a closed road running to an old garbage dump. Down these two roads we see lots of wildlife. The first time down we saw deer, the second time elk. On our first night in the condo (sleeping in sleeping bags and eating off of disposable dishes), we were out exploring the neighborhood after dinner, and ended up way down by the garbage dump at about 10:45 pm. It was still dusky, and we had binoculars and my camera. We turned to head back home, and two wolves came onto the road about 200 m in front of us.

One was a big lanky boy, black with silver, the second smaller, probably female, with more brown but still dark. They stood and watched us a bit; we did the same to them. One loped down the road toward us to check out something in the road. Finding it uninteresting, (s)he went back to the other, who had stayed still watching us the whole time. They decided they didn't like us, and darted into the bush towards the Trans Canada. Tragically, it was just too dark to get pictures, but we were able to use binoculars the whole time.

That was the first time I have ever seen wolves in the wild, and there they were, 100 m from our new place. What a nice welcome present.