Vermillion-Lakes

Photo Blogging Challenge – Empty Nesters (July 2016)

The theme for this month’s photo blogging challenge is actually Photographer’s Choice. With our oldest son at university for spring semester and our youngest son away at SHAD for 27 days, this was our first time being empty nesters for longer than a few days at a stretch. We opted to enjoy much of our time being out and about, hiking, biking and exploring in Canmore, Banff and Kananaskis Country. The obvious choice for this month’s post was to showcase highlights from our empty nester trial period.

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Citadel-Pass

Hiking Banff National Park – Sunshine Village to Citadel Pass

We first hiked to Citadel Pass in 2009. After seven years, two things prompted us to return: first, there’s summer weekend gondola service to Sunshine Village; and second, the moderate elevation gain is something I can handle even with a torn ACL. Our late July timing was ideal. The wildflowers were fantastic! We also spotted a male Mountain Bluebird and enjoyed the company of countless Columbian Ground Squirrels. For more than half the day we enjoyed blue skies which meant great long distance viewing of the cone of Mt. Assiniboine – something cloaked by forest fire smoke during our 2009 exploration of this trail.

Fairview-Mountain

Hiking Banff National Park – Saddleback Pass / Fairview Mountain

The trail to the summit of Fairview Mountain is steep and short, which just about qualifies it as a conditioning hike. But two key factors distinguish Fairview Mountain from most conditioning hikes: 1) the trailhead is at Lake Louise, so you’re probably looking at a bit of a drive to get there; and 2) reaching the summit rewards with outstanding views of Lake Louise, plenty of glaciers and range after range of Canadian Rocky Mountains. If you’re lucky, you’ll also enjoy an abundance of wildflowers and the company of a marmot or two along the way.

Pigeon-Mountain

Hiking the Bow Valley – Pigeon Mountain

Generally speaking, we’re fair-weather hikers. But when Environment Canada’s forecast shows nothing but rain, chance of showers and/or risk of thunderstorms for the next seven days, we become a lot more receptive to the idea of a half-day hike where we might encounter some precipitation on the way back down. All of which is a…