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.