Saturday, October 10, 2009

I thought It Just Left

Get your shovel ready. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold, snowy winter.
The Almanac is predicting colder than normal temperatures through November to March, with “especially heavy snowfall” in Alberta. Hard to believe that it is only October 10th with the weather outside frightful. Although here in Calgary, we did not see much snow fall as a Arctic cold front moved through the province a week ago, it left cold temperatures behind that make it feel like November instead of early October. It seems strange to see leaves on the trees and snow on the ground at the same time. It was only 4 months ago on June 6th that I was west of Bragg Creek in 8 inches of snow. Then summer refused to arrive with the warmest temperatures of the year experienced in September. God and maybe The Old Farmer's Almanac are the only one's who know what we can expect in the coming months. What are you going to do? This morning I said to myself "Being it feels like winter, I may as well go for a drive to a place that I know that I will find winter". So with a coffee to kick-start me, I pointed my truck in a southerly direction, with the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country as a destination. I was annoyed as I drove along sipping on my coffee and keeping tabs on my Garmin Navigator that indicated sunrise would happen at 7:55am. I was annoyed by the weather forecast that had promised me clear skies this morning, and all I could see was heavy cloud cover overhead with snow flurries from time to time. What are you going to do, stay home and sulk? No, I refused to let mother nature get me down, I kept the pedal down and settled in for the drive towards the rocks. As I came up on Longview, my friend and fellow Ham Richard-VE6BY gave me a call on my VHF radio. Richard was just leaving Calgary and headed south towards High River where he would meet a group of Hams for coffee at the Heritage Inn. Richard was aware that I was headed west over the pass this morning and inquired as to the weather and road conditions. With the signal deteriorating I cleared with Richard and continued west on highway 541 west of Longview. With repeater coverage from the FARS system on VHF now non-existent, I dialed up and down the band on 80 meters, checking on conditions. By now I had passed Highwood House, and with several stops made for photo-ops from time to time, the time passed quickly. With hunting season underway, I could not help but notice that there were pick-ups parked off the road in different locations, with the occupants off in the High-Country looking for game. It seemed strange to see hunters in cammo at times with rifles slung over their shoulders. Being Kananaskis Country, you would normally see hikers out this way, not hunters. Before long I came up on Linham creek where I stopped and brewed a pot of tea. Once back on the road, in no time I crossed in to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and within a few kilometers , I topped the summit (7239ft above sea-level) of the Highwood Pass. I pulled in to the parking-lot where a group were preparing to get underway on Cross Country skis. I noticed that they were well prepared with everyone carrying packs. I gave a call on 3700 mhz and received a call back from Earl-VA6RF who resides in Bassano about 300 kilometers to the east and over several mountain ranges. We passed pleasantries back and forth as I continued north down towards the Rock Glacier where I planned on making a stop. Once I arrived at the Rock Glacier, I hung up the mike and with my camera in hand, I hiked a short distance up the trail to a rock slide where I knew Pikas resided. Nope, didn't happen, that is I did not see any Pikas. What, with the weather outside frightful, the Pikas were holding tight to their burrows and munching on the stored up hay that they had dried throughout the summer for the long winter ahead. To bad, as I am sure that they would have ventured out if it had been a typical nice fall day of October in the High Country. Back in my truck, I drove down the road to the staging area for Elbow Lake, where again skiers were preparing to access the trail up to the lake. Just down the road a short distance, I could not help but remember the fine looking Grizzly Bear that I shot photos of not to long after he had exited his den. Now it was nearing the time when he would be returning to that den. As I drove north towards the Kananaskis Lakes,, I made a contact with Jim-VE6JRR in Coronation, located about 400 kilometers northeast of my location. Clearing with Jim, I received a call from Andy-VE6KP who also was mobile and about 300 kilometers from me and headed towards Camrose where he was going to pick up parts. I was pleased with conditions as I had no noise to speak of on my HF radio and the signals were very good with 59 signals received and given all around. My final contact of the day was made with Lorne-VE6AWI who lives in the village of Heisler,located in the central part of Alberta. After one more stop at the Barrier Lake visitors center where I checked on their collection of books that are sold by "The Friends Of Kananaskis' I made the short drive to the junction with highway 1 and joined the procession of vehicles headed towards Calgary. Darn, and just after clearing my head of the cob-webs collected over the last week.

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