The Otterhead – fresh air and fresh tracks

Sounds lovely, and it was.

Our escape from the madness last weekend proved to be just that. (Little did we know how jawdroppingly awful the madness was. Nor did we think it would get worse this week. Depths are being plumbed at an astonishing rate. Walls of hate, barriers to common sense and human decency – and it has only been a week…)

The Kicking Horse River
Back to last weekend and the sound of silence. We took a tour on the Otterhead trail, slipsiding away on an easy and freshly groomed cross country ski track. It wasn’t really silent, but it was serene. Skies were blue, mountains were majestic, and rivers were sparkling. That’ll be the Emerald, Amiskwi and Kicking Horse rivers. We crossed the first two partially frozen streams on bridges over untroubled tributaries, and then sped alongside the last, the lovely Kicking Horse.

Speeding along? Um…no
Sped along? That’s not strictly true. Cautious skiers, we were quite happy to find the fresh tracks to be sticky and slow – that suited us on the downhill sections, and kept us heading on up the steeper sections. Overall, the Otterhead is a delightful trail for a skier wanting to focus on scenery rather than technique. (What technique?)

And such scenery! The Kicking Horse valley in Yoho is stunning. It has fewer visitors compared to the nearby and well known Banff National Park. Over the course of an afternoon, we saw nine other skiers or snowshoers on the trail (I really was keeping count – is that a bit sad?) As we descended the first part of the trail, a couple climbing back up on snowshoes smiled and said we were in for a treat at the bottom. They were so right! The track emerges from trees into a wide valley with beautiful views in all directions.

The Amiskwi River
Being at the valley bottom might encourage an OldPlaidCamper to think he knows what he is doing on xc skis. Oh yes, I can kick and glide, kick and glide and really cover the ground. Look at me go! I might even catch up with Mrs. PlaidCamper.

Waiting for OldPlaidCamper
I do enjoy the easy rhythm of skiing along on the flat parts. It’s preferable to my crabbed and hunched nervousness on the downhill sections, what with a helpful mantra of goingtofall, goingtofall, goingtofall playing in my head. Oddly enough, I often fall.

But on the flat parts you’d think I was a natural. My mind wanders, usually into a heady mix of appreciation for the surroundings and a strange conviction I might have a Nordic gene or two from way back, ‘cos look at me go. For whatever reason, last week little clips from Simon and Garfunkel kept popping up. Oh look, a clearing, is there a boxer? No. Then I fell over – there’s nothing like a face full of snow to bring you back.

I’m catching up…
Homeward bound. The Otterhead is delightful, and I can’t wait to visit again. Maybe to ski, maybe to hike in spring and see the greens of summer, but we’ll be back. And no more escaping the madness, that can’t be done. Time to reframe and be positive – we’re going there (and other wild places) to embrace what is good and to feel good.

Imagine feeling the need to build a wall to keep people out. You’re in your own prison and you’ve already failed. You’re building a physical monument to your own feeble thinking and evident mental imprisonment. You’ve already lost. I won’t carry that with me everywhere I go. I don’t want to dwell on the awfulness all the time. I’m not ignoring it either, but there are times when bigger and better subjects should occupy our thoughts, if only for a while.

Mental freedom and better things
Here’s hoping this weekend you find some peace and quiet, mental freedom, and you have a wonderful time!

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

18 thoughts on “The Otterhead – fresh air and fresh tracks”

    1. Thanks, Neil, for stopping by, I appreciate it. Yes, we are lucky to be out here in Western Canada – it’s a beautiful part of the world!
      I hope your weekend is going well!


      1. My pleasure, always look forward to your pictures, I think in a past life I lived in your neck of the woods, been a fun and busy weekend as usual, hope you had a good one 🙂


  1. Hello Plaid Camper – thank you for this post. The photos are amazing. I think one must be filled with awe and wonder surrounded by such serenity and beauty.

    Have a great week-end!


  2. The Otterhead, so wonderfully photographed and reflected here, seems like the perfect locale to enjoy a winter weekend and to escape the spiritual malaise that’s Trumpeted across the digital networks these days. Although we can’t escape reverberations from the powerful mindset that apparently espouses the construction of walls and wars and prisons (while neglecting health and education and environment), we can fortify ourselves with beauty and the mysteries of the wild, if not in such a grand location as your splendid mountains and rivers and lakes, then in the quiet and richly rewarding sanctity of a dear backyard. In any case, I sure as heck enjoyed your accounts of sliding and tumbling as Mother Nature (and Simon & Garfunkle tunes) whizzed by!


    1. Hi Walt, I hope all is well with you. You’re right, there’s no escape, and the trick is to find a balance – our approach will be to spend time enjoying the beauty and mysteries of the wild. An insanity antidote administered as needed (or as often as possible!)
      Couldn’t get away this weekend, but a recent gift was “River’s Edge” and I’m enjoying an exploration of your fly fishing realm.
      Enjoy your weekend!


  3. Wow….amazing photos and I envy you and those skis! There is something wonderful about cross country skiing. I had an obsessive affair with skiing for a few seasons, I remember all the fun that I had….sigh. What an excellent way to get out and let all that silly political crap fall to the wayside. I feel refreshed already!


    1. Thanks, Margaret! Along with snowshoeing, we’re enjoying time on xc skis – it’s a great way of exploring our winter environment, and you’re so right about all the garbage falling away, if only for a little while.
      Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a wonderful place to embrace the beauty and silence of the world. Thanks for sharing the beauty and I’m not sure if it ever really looked like you were catching up to Mrs. PlaidCamper. Have a good weekend!


    1. Glad you enjoyed this one! You’re right about keeping up with Mrs. PC – fortunately, she likes to stop and take in the view, and as I get up to her, she waits a second or two, then zooms off again.
      I hope your weekend is going well!


  5. Thanks, Mike – it is a great valley to ski (especially for a nervous skier like me!) and a beautiful place to be. Quiet freedom and the cares of the world fall away for a while.
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


    1. We were quite overwhelmed by how lovely this valley was, and how clear the air and light was that day. Beautiful. We were back there again a couple of days ago, and the snow was flying and mountains hidden. Still beautiful, but very different.(And bloody cold!)

      Liked by 1 person

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