Thanks to the many topics I’ve introduced over the years, the very nature of “Out and About with the GeoKs” is confusing. With categories ranging from gardening to book reviews, photography to snowshoeing and Lego to hiking, you could say this blog has an identity crisis! On the other hand, you could argue that variety keeps things interesting. What do you think? Should I keep calm and blog on? Or is it time for a major overhaul?
An awesome wildflower season hike, the Helen Lake trail is also a good option for early fall. It offers great views of Crowfoot Glacier across the valley, has a relatively modest elevation gain of just under 600 meters from trailhead to lake shore, and includes a long stretch of trail with expansive views of Dolomite Peak and several unnamed ridges and peaks. Upon reaching the scenic highlight that is Helen Lake, there are a few options to extend the day, including hiking to the Cirque Peak or a nice ridge walk above the lake.
The Stanley Glacier hike in Kootenay National Park has a lot going for it: 1) less than two hours from Calgary (under an hour from Canmore) it’s about the same travel time to/from as many of our favourite hikes deep in Kananaskis; 2) it’s pretty easy; 3) fossils; 4) new and old growth forests; 5) Mount Stanley, Mount Storm and Mount Whymper; 6) waterfalls; 7) a hanging valley; and 8) Stanley Glacier! After our second trip up and down the trail, we added Stanley Glacier to our list of all-time favourites hikes.
While Sunshine is most well-known for skiing, the summer gondola and shuttle bus service make Sunshine Meadows one of the most accessible alpine hiking areas in the Canadian Rockies from late June through late September. For some, its a starting point for backpacking adventures to Mt. Assiniboine or the Egypt/Pharoah Lakes area. For dayhikers like us, prime times to visit Sunshine Meadows are during peak wildflower season (usually towards the end of July) and peak larch viewing season (usually towards the end of September). Our most recent larch season visit was timed just about perfectly and reaffirmed that it’s well worth the effort to do at least one golden larch hike each fall.
We split our time between Calgary and Canmore, so the big decision I had to make was which one to showcase in this month’s post. I decided on Calgary for a few reasons: 1) we live here about three-quarters of the time; 2) I routinely showcase the mountain landscapes around Canmore in PBC posts, so it’s Calgary’s turn; and 3) Beakerhead comes to Calgary in September, so there are some pretty cool things to photograph here in YYC.
I haven’t done much black and white photography. But that changed thanks to this month’s photo blogging challenge. I switched my digital camera to monotone mode; that camera processee the jpg files in black and white while leaving me with full colour RAW files for blogging, tweeting, etc. The other result from changing the picture mode to monotone is that everything seen through the EVF and on the LCD screen is in black and white. That really helped me focus on shape, form, lines, patterns, textures and other sources of tonal contrast – elements of composition that become particularly important when colour isn’t part of the equation. The biggest thing I learned by doing this is that viewing a composition in black and white makes for stronger compositions; I think I’ll use this mode on a semi-regular basis.