A picture, so the saying goes, speaks a thousand words. That’s what I had in mind when recently taking a stroll around Upper Kananaskis Lake. It seems that every 100m another thousand words stream through my mind. Stop. Look. Listen. Breathe. Continue on.
I think that a common misconception is that, in order to see truly specular views, one must be prepared for a six-hour hike, generally on a vertical incline, to the top of some peak. Kananaskis Country is not like that. For every challenging hike, there is a gentle stroll that fits the bill for a lazy Monday afternoon. The Thanksgiving-turkey walk-off.
Upper Kananaskis Lake is one of those places. From leaving the city limits of Calgary, you barely travel thirty minutes west before heading south for a short distance on Highway 40. As you drive, thousands more words run through your head. They all seem to be similar in vein. Breathtaking. Beautiful. Inspiring. Perfect. Wild. Vast. Perhaps these words go some way to providing the definition of Kananaskis Country?
We brought a picnic lunch consisting of, you guessed it, turkey sandwiches. Had we have known, however, we would have brought a pot of chili and some firewood. Upper Kananaskis Lake has a number of picnic benches and fire pits that provide spectacular views of the lake. It is not inconceivable that this lazy stroll could be turned into a day or weekend-long outing.
The June 2013 floods that hit southern Alberta so severely didn’t miss this place either. A short walk around the south side of the lake and a bridge, once sturdy and purposeful, lies limp over rushing water, falling from a waterfall 15 metres away. Yellow tape, frustratingly, does not prevent people from crossing the lop-sided and icy structure – with dogs or young children in tow.
On this day, we simply turned around (as everybody else should) and headed the other way along the north shore. Basking in sunlight, the words begin to flow again. Incredible. Mesmerizing. Crisp. Clean. Peace. Serenity. Moose.
Moose? Yes, turn one corner and, there we are, face to face with a full-grown moose. It’s a cow. Chewing away, minding her own business, probably with a thousand words running through her mind. Grass, I expect, would be the first. Yum, a close second. Of course, we grab our camera, add the zoom lens (rather than getting closer) and shoot. We venture up to a tree to provide some stability. Then, to the right, in the corner of our eye, a big black shape. The bull, a much larger moose with impressive antlers, is laid, calm, in the shade, just supervising his cow.
I had never seen a moose in the wild until this moment. My moose exposure to date had been several carcasses on the side of various highways and at the Calgary zoo. Huge. Sturdy. Ugly, but Noble. More words run through my mind.
Had we not have seen Mr. and Mrs. Moose, our Upper Kananaskis Lake experience would have been perfect. With this moose encounter… …words cannot describe.