The weather hasn’t cooperated with our hiking plans the past few days. Add to that the fact that the GeoKids have been sick and the result is that the parental units really, really wanted to get out to the mountains today. Mother Nature was still threatening the possibility of rain or thunderstorms, so instead of the 13.2 km Jewell Pass / Prairie View loop at Barrier Lake, we decided to go with Plan B: a few shorter hikes and walks at the Kananaskis Lakes in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
We got a late start, arriving at the trailhead a few minutes before 11 am, but it didn’t take long to get started walking the trail that runs at the east end of Upper Kananaskis Lake and across the TransAlta spillway. The spillway wasn’t spilling any water at all today, as the large diameter pipe was sitting high and dry, several meters above the water level in Upper Kananaskis Lake. C paused briefly to take a few photos, including this one, which turned out really well…
As we made our way along the first few hundred meters of the path, we wondered if the water levels might be low enough that we could use our waders to go after a BVPete cache placed on an island in the middle of the lake, GC1DWEX. So Mr. GeoK went back to the car to add his hip waders and sandals to his already stuffed backpack while Mrs. GeoK and the kids carried on along the upper trail. There was a lot of talus (rough, loose rock) on the trail here; it looks like great slabs of limestone form Mt. Indefatigable have been breaking off and landing on the trail. We also ended up walking through a huge field of talus and boulders; it looked quite desolate.
At about 12:15 we reached the Point (a back-country campground), where our second target geocache for the day was hidden. We were lucky to find the adjacent campsite empty when we arrived, as we searched for a good 15 minutes before finally locating the camo-taped toothbrush holder hanging in an evergreen tree! By then we were definitely ready to sit down at the nearby picnic table to eat our packed lunch!!
After lunch we continued about 500 meters past the campsite to search for 2 more geocaches, both of which turned out to be extremely well hidden. Mr. GeoK earns a few bragging rights after finding these ones! (NOTE – we weren’t able to go after the island cache, as it would have required “wading” several hundred meters in water well over hip depth!!)
Mrs. GeoK was more fascinated by the pale yellow pollen that the wind and waves had pushed up against the shore of the lake, where rocks, logs and tree stumps created interesting patterns and bubbles rising up out of the lake bed created a strange looking water scape…
By the time we make it back to the parking lot, our GeoKids were pretty worn out. (I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that their feeling better when we do a longer hike one day next week.) They elected to stay in the vehicle while Mr. & Mrs. GeoK made the dash to a different BVPete cache hidden on what is sometimes and island and sometimes a pensula. Mrs. GeoK enjoyed the little bit of rock climbing necessary to find this one and was lucky enough to find a geocoin in the cache to pick up and move along.
We made the short drive to the Mt. Everest Interpretive Trail parking lot where, again, the GeoKids elected to stay in the car, calling out encouragement over the walkie-talkies while Mrs. GeoK went for one cache and Mr. GeoK went for another. After successfully finding GC1DCE2, Mrs. GeoK quickly climbed up to the Mt. Everest lookout platform, just in time to read Mr. GeoK the hint so he could find that cache under the watchful eyes of about 15 interested people. They’d heard of geocaching and wanted to know all about it, so we gave them a quick overview and then headed back to the parking lot and the short drive to our next stop, a new location for GC43F3 – Alberta’s Brass Cap cache.
It was after 4 o’clock at this point, so we stopped at the Boulten Creek trading post for some well-deserved ice cream cones. While we enjoyed our treats, we talked to an Alberta Parks employee about all the fossils she had on display. Youngest GeoKid identified pretty much every fossil and rock without difficulty.
Even though it was Friday afternoon, we decided to take a chance on heading into the Boulton Creek campsite. We stopped twice and parked along the road for about 15 minutes each time, so that Mr. and Mrs. GeoK could make a quick dash to find a couple of older geocaches: GCWYK7 and GCQXPP. The trail to one of these was basically through boggy terrain the whole way. Thankfully it was a quick find, as the mosquitoes were swarming pretty good!
Our last stop was at the William Watson Lodge and camping area, where youngest GeoKid joined Mrs. GeoK in the search for one last geocache. It was a short walk and a quick find; we dropped off a travel bug and replaced the container before rejoining the rest of the family for the drive home. Altogether, the GeoKids hiked about 9 km, Mr. & Mrs. GeoK hiked about 15 km and we found 11 geocaches, bring our cumulative to 2800 finds!! Another milestone day…