Long views, silvery blues (and slippery trails)

The colours and trail conditions in mid-March on a sunny day in Alberta. Big risks and huge rewards for the willing…DSCF6627

I might be slightly exaggerating above, but we were picking a nervous path down some wooded slopes last weekend. The temperatures for the past few days had been perfect for being outdoors and active, rising from below freezing in the early morning, to a relatively balmy 5-8C in the late afternoon sun. Stay on the move, and the layers come off, down to shirtsleeves and a lightweight toque. Sunblock, sunglasses and YakTrax kept everything mostly comfortable – the frozen lumps and bumps of an icy trail underfoot keeping us on our toes and, hopefully, off our butts. It must have been very deep slush the day before.IMG_20180311_125621

The parking lot at Glenbow Ranch was less than half full, the chilly early morning deterring most folks, leaving the park to be enjoyed by the brave few willing to risk the slippery trails. The happy miserabilist in our little party chose the most icy trailhead, figuring it would be the quietest path. He enjoyed the subsequent series of smiles, nods, and short conversations with other hikers and dog walkers who had no doubt chosen the same path searching for solitude. There’s not much that’s quieter than a collection of outdoor introverts slightly disappointed to be meeting each other on the trail (I’m not actually a miserabilist, but if you ever run into me out there, I sure do look like one – don’t be too put off,  I will stop and chat – if you really want to…)DSCF6624

On the flatter parts, and along the valley bottom, like an amiable PlaidCamper the trails were hardpacked and easy going. As is almost always the case, the further on we went, the fewer people we met, and aside from the scrape of YakTrax on ice, it was pretty quiet. And pretty! Alberta blue overhead, silver trees on each side, and golden grasses poking up through the snow. Barely a breeze to be felt or heard, and the occasional snatch of birdsong from the branches above.DSCF6626

We threaded our way through a pleasant valley, stopping to eat our lunch at the bottom of a wooded slope. The trees leaned in and over on either side of us, offering a sense of shelter and quiet companionship. Fanciful I know, but maybe they were expressing a hint of concern? Scout was doing quite a number on the exposed roots of a felled tree, thoroughly engaged in her dogged pursuit of “is this edible?” The answer, in her mind anyway, is always yes.fullsizeoutput_56a

We climbed out of the little valley and stopped to enjoy the far-reaching views of the not so distant Rockies. They looked wonderful in the strong afternoon sun, sharp-edged, snow dusted and gleaming, stretching along the entire horizon. What a sight! Closer in, stands of trees made stark patches of black shadow against the brilliant white snow. An unseen train sounded a horn down below, and then appeared from between the hills, chugging slowly through the foothills, a child’s toy from way up top.fullsizeoutput_579

Sitting on a log in the snow, feeling the warmth of the sun under an ocean of blue sky on a bright March day, I can happily put spring on hold for a little while longer. Yes, the paths are treacherous, in and out of the city, and yes, there’s still more snow to fall (it’s falling heavily once again as I write this!) but days like last weekend are treasures, and enough to make an old misery smile at passers-by as they quietly acknowledge their shared delight.IMG_20180311_125521

A rare day? Maybe, maybe not, depends how you look at it. I like days and places for finding perspective. Glenbow Ranch seems to be our nearest natural recharge point at the moment. I hope you have an outdoor trove of special places you feel good about, where you can soak in and soak up natural wonder. Locations you don’t have to travel too far to experience, where everyday concerns can be shrugged off, at least for a while. fullsizeoutput_56d

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!fullsizeoutput_57a

PS Just got back from a quick trundle around the neighbourhood (can’t resist being out in the snow) and it is slick on those sidewalks – so take care out there if you are still in the (weakening?) grip of a snowy winter.

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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...

13 thoughts on “Long views, silvery blues (and slippery trails)”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this brisk wintry adventure, pc, but admittedly, it’s nice and warm where I am sitting. Your writing is such a pleasure, enjoyed it all with crafty phrases like “nervous path” and “miserabilist.” You three are hardy adventurers, and I loved the spectacular landscapes you treated us to. The train photo was great for perspective, and the snow looked playful and beautifully hushed. I hope your upcoming weekend is another fun frolic.


    1. Thanks, Jet, for the kind words about the writing – much appreciated! Always happy to share our wintry adventures, but I have to confess that for this piece, although the scenery and conditions look rugged, (and I suppose like all outdoor places there’s some risk if you’re unprepared) this particular location is an easy 30 minute drive from our apartment, and the trails are straightforward enough, even in icy periods. It is a spectacular spot for taking in the wide stretch of the mountains. Being in the mountains is fabulous, but it’s like the old joke about recognizing an elephant – too close and all you see are leathery grey wrinkles…
      Thanks again, and have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Looks like you’re in for a decent spell? We had (relatively) warm sun again today, melting the snow from yesterday, and it’ll freeze again tonight with snow to come tomorrow. Snow, thaw, slush, slick, repeat – until April?! You’re in the right place there, Wayne!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful post! Finding a time and place for perspective is such a profound observation – and so applicable for those of us who take our daily walks ready to enjoy the weather and sights we encounter.


  3. Thanks for another enjoyable ramble, PC. Alberta blue sky, walls of silvery aspen bark, the forms of leaning trees solicitous, and hiking trails with a minimum of miserabilists– a special place indeed!


    1. Thanks, Walt! A special place indeed, albeit a hidden one the past few days, with fresh falls of snow on brisk northerly winds obscuring the view.
      On the upside, a shining new copy of “Streamwalker’s Journey” is providing indoor entertainment!
      Hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend.


  4. Absolutely enjoyed the winter walk and beautiful photos, but my favorite item from this week are your words “a collection of outdoor introverts slightly disappointed to be meeting each other on the trail.” Any signs of a miserabilist expression will be missed by others on the trails now that your walking with a dog. Some introverts may not want to stop for a chat, but will quickly change their mind if a dog is part of the group. I’ve been looking at our beautiful blue skies this weekend through the windows and my only scenery has been the basketball games on the tv and not your wonderful views of the mountains and passing trains. Thanks for sharing the beauty and solitude.


    1. Thank you! Happy to see a fellow introvert enjoy the lines about meeting others on the trail. Yes, you’re quite right about having a dog along on a hike – Scout prompts any number of conversations, and is happy to meet her adoring public…leaving her human companions very content to play second fiddle!
      I hope the basketball games have been entertaining, and the results have gone the way you wished!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your posts always evoke a sense of peace PC. Thanks for taking me along on an invigorating fresh winters walk. Those Rockies in the background fuel my dream of one day visiting your home country. Beautiful post.


    1. Thanks, Miriam! It’s the snow muffling all the noise…
      I hope you get to visit western Canada one day – it’ll be a temperature swing from Melbourne, but visit in the winter, so spectacular!

      Liked by 1 person

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