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Two photowalks, one week

November?!?!? November was the last time I wrote about an adventure?

Shame.

What’s worse is how much time I have on my hands these days. In late January, Bella and I packed up a U-Haul and moved to Spokane, Wash., to join Our American in our Happily Ever After.

And I’m not allowed to work.

There must be time for adventure.

There is.

Last week, Bella and I set out for two photowalks.
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C2H: Our first hike

“Are you going to start hiking again,” someone asked when she learned of Bella’s addition to the family.

When Shep’s old age started to creep up on us, our hikes in the Rocky Mountains became short strolls in the lowlands. We couldn’t do extended days to the Ink Lakes anymore.

We had to stick to lazy days at Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka, always sticking close to water for quick cooldowns.

Puppies are different.

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C2H: The old man climbeth

C2H — Close to Home is my attempt at a new summer series. Thanks to impending (f)unemployment and the price of gas ($1.44 a litre!) in the Okanagan, our adventuring will be a bit limited. Shep and I will try to explore the regional parks around Kelowna and find adventure less than 50 kilometres from home.

It seems like almost too much of a coincidence.

I chose Glen Canyon Park to start our Close to Home summer series, highlighting adventure opportunities in Kelowna and the Okanagan.

At 74 hectares, it’s large enough to split into a few different days, considering Shep is getting on in years and isn’t as nimble as he used to be.

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Hog’s not for the dogs

I thought I did my research well enough.

I thought I’d read everything there was to read about Hog Lake and Hog Canyon Falls on the old Google tubes.

It turned out a more difficult hike than I expected.

It turned out the falls weren’t quite as big as I expected.

It turned out there wasn’t as much access to clean water as I expected.

None of that means it wasn’t a fantastic day.

I have a passion for waterfalls. There’s something so majestic about them. Once I whet my appetite (get it? whet? wet? ha!) with Palouse Falls, I became insatiable.

I looked for more in the area and found Hog Canyon Falls.

The sun was blistering and we brought a jug of water for Shep and a couple of Gatorades for us. I figured we’d be lakeside for much of our trek and we’d relax by the falls while Shep laid in the water.

I was wrong.

The hike, about five miles (see that? I’m becoming American already) round trip, took us to the top of rocky scablands where I found carpets and carpets of wildflowers. We trekked through clarkia, blanket flowers, Indian hyacinth, rusty lupine and more.

The colours were as striking as the uphills were steep and quad-numbing.

With Shep at the ripe old age of nine (80-some in his dog years), neither one of us is in prime hiking shape any longer. Was it only two summers ago we climbed to the top of Barrier Lookout?

The falls, water cascading down a staircase of stones, were gorgeous, albeit a little smaller than I thought.

We took several breaks and were looking forward to cooling off in the water at the base of the falls. But the water pooling around the edges of the large rocks was murky and rife with algae.

Navigating the area is equally as difficult. One site described it as ‘scree’ but that’s different than any Rocky Mountain scree we’ve previously encountered.

And then there are the snakes. My American saw one slither past and yelled ‘snake!’ and, yes, I screamed. Was it a little garter or was it one of the rattlers that are supposed to populate the area?

Never mind, I don’t really want to know.

We ascended the hill to the top of the falls and found more murky water. We had no choice but to let Shep dip into the muddy pools, while we snacked on berries, almonds and sunflower seeds.

The trek back was no less rough at times, my spirits lifting when I could spot the wee truck in the distance. Then it was back to the city to get Shep a bath and learn about ticks (yep, we pulled five or six of the little buggers off him).

Lessons learned?

  • Bring more water than you think you’ll need
  • Take someone else’s degree-of-difficulty rating with a grain of salt
  • Forgo the big camera backpack with three cameras for the sake of water
  • Cotton socks suck for hiking, go for wool
  • Get better hiking boots
  • Water, water, water, water, water
Oh … and bring more water.

 

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Exploring in the city

There are so many reasons to love Calgary.

From its bustling urban attitude to its refusal to lose that small-town feel, the city didn’t take long to grow on me. In fact, I’d known I was born to live here since I was 14 and saw pictures of my brother’s exchange trip here.

It wasn’t until Shep came into my life, though, that I realized so much of what Calgary has to offer. Renowned as a pet-friendly city, it’s home to 138 off-leash dog parks and a large network of other pathed parks where we can roam on-leash.

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Silence is golden

All I can hear is the gurgling of water, falling over rocks and tree roots, the chirp of woodland birds and the flutter of their feathers.

Fallen trees lie dead in the water, their rough bark long since washed away, their skin bleached by the blazing sun.

The birds dive closer, testing their invaders’ will, but we go nowhere.

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Humbled by greatness

The true north strong and free.

Sure, there are mountains elsewhere in the world.

I drove through the Cascades in Washington State over Christmas. The Laurentians in Quebec and the Adirondacks in New York State? Done and done.

But none of them felt like mine.

The Kananaskis and the Rockies? Mine.

All mine.

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Finding my Zen

I ran for the hills today.

I know people who have travelled the world over. And at times, I envy them that . . . to see the Greek ruins, the great pyramids, Stonehenge . . . aye me, that’s a long time on a plane.

Me? I’ve been to the easternmost point of Canada and the westernmost point of Canada, I’ve lived in five different provinces, and I’ve seen the beauty our great country holds from coast to coast.

OK, so I haven’t been to Manitoba yet, but really, what am I missing? (Sly jab at my Winnipeg friends.)

Never have I explored more, though, than in my current backyard. Southern Alberta continues to amaze me, with its remarkably calm lake waters, its massive blue sky, and its majestic Rocky Mountains.

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