It’s been quite a challenge, working snowshoeing into our mountain experiences this season. We’ve been doing a lot of hiking with spikes on our feet, and snowshoes, strapped to our packs, on our backs. It should be the other way around… spikes in the pack and snowshoes on the feet!
With the freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle leaving the trails icy, at best, we decided to give one trail a try, a little higher up in elevation, hoping there’d be better snow up there. We’d read good things about the beauty of the Karst Spring Trail in the winter time and, though it is a very short 1.6km in and out trail, with very little elevation gain, we thought it might be worth checking out.
Unfortunately, to get there you have to do a LONG (3.7 km one way) (boring… oops, did I say that!?) hike in on a wide, multi-use ski (classic and skate cross-country skiing) trail, until you finally arrive at the trailhead.
What you are walking through, though, is quite interesting. Built as a training and alternate skiing racing facility, complete with a biathlon range (skiing and rifle shooting) for the winter Olympics that were held here, back in 1988, it is a large tract of land set in the rolling hills and relative flats of the Mount Shark area, about 45 minutes into the backcountry, south of Canmore. It starts at about 1730m of elevation. and is full of well designed, track-set ski trails, ranked from easy to difficult.
To get to the Karst Spring trailhead, we followed the main Watridge Lake trail until we arrived on the shores of the lake where the spring empties into its frozen waters (see the bottom of this Kananaskis Area parks Map at left).
Just as a side note, we are planning to head to Slovenia in the fall to do some caving… and the word “karst” actually comes from there. The mountainous border area between Italy and Slovenia is called the Karst Plateau and it is riddled with caves and remarkable limestone features. I can’t wait to explore it!
Trekking up a mountain’s shoulder, hiking through a flowering alpine meadow, snowshoeing through a dense pine forest, or taking in the 360 degree views from a ridge top vantage point make me feel alive. The experiences in these places give me a profound sense of space and place.
Travel does a similar thing, pushing me out of my comfort zone, exposing me to new experiences, new people and new ways of thinking; it also gives me that sense of space and place in this world.
I believe that life is lived in the contrasts: when you experience simplicity and complexity and life's ups and downs, whether they be physically in this world or mentally in your own personal inner landscape, you know that you are truly living.
The bigger they are, the more there is to explore!