Outdoor Pursuits


On Tuesday I had the opportunity to go on a mountain bike trip to the headwaters of the Castle River. I was joined by my friends, Rolf and Peter. We left Crowsnest Pass at 8:00 am and were unloading our bikes at the trail-head about an hour later. Within minutes, we were peddling along the bumpy, pot-hole filled logging road, heading south toward Waterton Lakes National Park. It didn’t take long, the first five minutes of the trip to be exact, for me to realize I was not in top “bike shape.” By the end of our 35 km trip, every muscle and bone in my body ached. My backside was the most vocal, though. I must look into getting a bike seat with more padding.

Portions of the old logging road were in rough shape, with large bowling ball size rocks strewn over the ground. Other sections contained deep washouts and ravines, reminders of the 1995 flood. Then, there were the steep hills. There were no short-cuts around them and it was much easier to push the bikes up or down them, than peddle. Other sections of the road were much like they were prior to the flood, and easy to ride. I particularly enjoyed the downhill sections … that is until we returned later in the day, where they became uphill sections. At long last, we arrived at our destination, approximately three or four kilometres from the northern boundary of Waterton Park. The scenery was spectacular!

Rolf and Peter, gearing up to fish

Rolf and Peter, gearing up to fish

 Although it was more of a mountain bike torture trip we were on, we had also included our fly-fishing gear. In the event there was a decent place close by, and we had time, we planned to fish a bit before heading back. As it turned out we’d have about an hour, so we thought we’d make the best of it. We were glad we did. Here’s a few photos of the day.

Mountain Bike Trip

Within minutes, Peter was into a nice cutthroat trout

 

Mountain Bike Trip

Peter, with a beautiful 15-inch cutthroat trout. A decent fish for this section of river.

 

Rolf cast to a likely-looking spot. The headwater of the Castle River are more creek-like in size and appearance than they are a river.

Rolf casts to a likely-looking spot. The headwaters of the Castle River are more creek-like in size and appearance than they are a river.

 

Mountain bike trip

One of the cutthroats I managed to catch. Photos by Peter Amundsen.

 

Mountain bike trip

Preparing for the ride home. Myself, Peter and Rolf (left to right).

I know, you’re probably thinking I’m going to begin today’s post by talking about fly-fishing or something related to trout fishing in Crowsnest Pass. Well, I thought I’d surprise everyone and write about something entirely different. You see, I’ve been quite busy since January, working on a couple of photography projects. Along with fly-fishing, photography is another one of my passions. Anyway, I’ve been spending almost all my spare time over the past three months looking at photographs on my computer monitor. This has kept me busy during my days off and most evenings. Well, I finally finished these projects, at least all I can do at the moment. “You had a day off then?” … you ask. “Yes, last Monday,” but I had a tough decision to make. Do I go fishing, or do I pull out the snowshoes and head for the hills? You see, snowshoeing is yet another passion of mine. Unfortunately, I didn’t do much of that this winter, either.

Fishing on the Crowsnest River has really been picking up lately and it was tempting to grab my fly gear. However, I also realized there’s an entire fishing season ahead of me, and although there’s still plenty of snow in the back-country, it’s not going to last much longer. Before you know it, all that white stuff covering the mountains is going to melt and disappear. This could very well be my last opportunity to get out snowshoeing. You guessed it, I chose snow over water. I grabbed the snowshoes, threw my camera gear into my pack, climbed into my pickup and headed toward the Atlas Road, northwest of Coleman. Along the way, I saw a pair of mountain bluebirds, the first of the year. You know spring has arrived in Crowsnest Pass when you see these colorful little birds flying about. 

It didn’t take long to discover the Atlas Road was a mess, and I should have known better. Recent logging activity, combined with warm temperatures and snow-melt, had turned the road to mush. I was determined to go, though, regardless. With a flick of the switch, I shifted into four-wheel drive and off I went. I’d almost forgotten about the logging that occurred here this winter, but it wasn’t long before I was reminded. Shortly after entering the Forest Reserve I passed a series of roadside clear-cuts, some of which provided views of Crowsnest Mountain never seen before. Immense piles of trees were stacked along the road, waiting to be picked up and delivered to a sawmill, somewhere outside Crowsnest Pass. I continued along the wet, muddy road until I reached the trail-head. From here I’d be able to snowshoe some distance above the valley floor. Surprisingly, the snow was still quite firm, despite the warm mid-day sun. I made good progress and reached the crest of the ridge in just over an hour. I’d hiked here several times last autumn to scout possible locations for photographing Crowsnest Mountain and the Seven Sisters. To my dismay, some of the fresh clear-cuts in the valley below were interfering with the compositions I had planned from my scouting trips last year.

View of Turtle Mountain & Seven Sisters, with recent logging activity

View of Crowsnest Mountain & Seven Sisters, with recent logging activity

 I had to do a bit of scrambling to find an alternate location to set up the tripod, but found a decent spot to snap a few frames just as the light was beginning to fade. Moments later, the sun left my side of the valley for the day. I returned to my truck and started for home. The Atlas Road was in even worse shape now than earlier, and by the time I hit Highway 3 my truck looked like it had just taken part in the Bellevue Mud Bog Competition. It took thirty minutes in one of the bays at the local car wash, and fifteen bucks, before I could recognize my vehicle again! Washing my truck is definitely not one of my passions. However, now that I own a clean truck again, and have snowshoeing out of my system, I plan to begin participating in one of my other passions … fly-fishing!
Crowsnest Mountain & Seven Sisters

Crowsnest Mountain & Seven Sisters