Last Ski of the Season? – Heritage Ranch (Red Deer, AB, Canada)

After days and days of cold temperatures and snow, it has finally warmed up . By afternoon the temperature had reached +2C and it seemed the perfect weather for a ski.

Today I decided to try Heritage Ranch for my ski spot, I thought a (literal) change of scenery would be nice, instead of skiing my usual route.

The trails were definitely a little bit slippy today with the warming temperatures. I will admit I paused at the top of the long hill before going down it, trying to decide how slippery it was going to be coming back up. After watching another skier tackle it with a slow “snowplow”, I decided to take the same approach.

As I only had a limited amount of time to ski, the plan was to go down to the base of the hill to the large open field and then turn around and go back up.

At the bottom of the hill I had a change of plan. It was pretty slippery in spots on the hill, and I knew it was not going to be fun going back up. I decided to go with “Plan B” and take the bridleway that snakes through the back way instead. It seemed to be a better option to break trail through fluffy snow, than spend the next 10 – 15 minutes sliding uphill. The “unofficial way ” seemed to be the most sensible option.

This just might be the last ski of the season, at least for skiing in Red Deer (Alberta, Canada). The forecast for the next six days is calling for temperatures above zero. Perhaps spring IS going to arrive.

 

iPhone pics by Debra Hunter

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First Ski of February

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A quick afternoon ski in Barrett Park (Red Deer, Alberta, Canada) made for a nice afternoon break. The sun helped to warm up the cold temperature Environment Canada was reporting, but the wind chill reared it’s ugly head as I skied in the south-west direction.

The trails have hardly been used since I was last on them. I think many people are thinking they are too icy, but in truth they are only really proving to be a problem on the uphills.

It is such a treat to have urban parks with ski trails set. It makes going for a ski no more difficult than going for a neighbourhood walk. The only downside is my snowshoes are feeling pretty lonely this year, having been pushed aside for skiing and the great workout it brings.

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Ski Afternoon

blog-ski-sunset This afternoon our weather finally improved. When I say “improved”, I mean it was -15C with windchill rather than -30C (with windchill), and the sun was out. The weather seemed nice enough to go for an afternoon ski.

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We’ve had snow and wind over the past several days causing the set ski tracks to practically disappear. On occasion you could see roughly the direction they traveled, but for the most part it was breaking a brand new trail.

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The first 5 minutes of skiing brought lovely weather, and then the wind whipped up, and with it came the blowing snow.

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The few pictures I took were on my phone, and they were fast pictures as my fingers, outside of my mitts, were freezing fast.

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Even in the cold there was a lot to look at. The Waskasoo Creek, frozen and covered with snow, was quite picturesque.

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There were also a lot of interesting tracks in the snow……..

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…..not just the ones I made.

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(Skiing “selfie” before I had to put on my hat.)

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*** Skiing area at Barrett Park, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

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Boxing Day and Ski Fun

With Christmas Day behind us, Boxing day always brings with it a very relaxed day. It is a nice break after enduring weeks over-scheduled with obligations. I like Christmas, I just don’t get the craziness. I like buying my family gifts, but it doesn’t need to be over the top. I prefer a rather laid back version of Christmas.

So as my family enjoyed the afternoon building with Lincoln Logs and Lego, and giving the PS4 a good workout, I ventured out to play with my new toys…..skis.

My husband and family treated me to cross country skiing equipment for Christmas. Years ago I skied a lot, but in recent years I had swapped skiing for snowshoeing. Now with everyone in school, I am able to sneak away during the day for an hour here and there, so it is the perfect time to get back into the sport.

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We are lucky enough to have groomed trails just around the corner, with a lovely loop of trails in Barrett Park ( Red Deer, Alberta, Canada ). This makes for a picturesque ski with views of the woods, creek and bridges. This afternoon also included viewing a coyote in the distance, which is always a treat.

At -20C, it was cool out. My feet and body stayed warm with the skiing, but my legs, fingers and face sure felt the cold.

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The final part of the ski also allowed me to watch the Boxing Day sun set. I’m sure there will be many more blog posts featuring skiing in the coming weeks.

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Path Side Wonders – Wapta Falls, BC, Canada

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This spring we have spent our fair share of time exploring the mountain parks of Alberta and British Columbia. Our family is finally at the stage where everyone is able to hike, and excited about it too. Last weekend we explored the area around Golden, BC, and on the return trip stopped for an enjoyable hike to Wapta Falls.

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As there had been quite a bit of rain, the sides of the path were lush with flowers and mushrooms. Admittedly, the constant stopping left my family standing and waiting (perhaps arms crossed and toes tapping by our oldest two!), while I crawled around for mushroom pictures.

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The younger three got in the spirit of looking at the wildflowers. This did however lead to a discussion where my eight year old just would not accept that the beautiful flower she had discovered was a dandelion. She was certain it was a rare wildflower (her siblings also chimed in that what she had found was a dandelion which certainly didn’t help matters!).

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Now there is an amusing story from the day we did this hike. My husband and I were certain we had both walked to Wapta Falls a few years ago, we were sure of it. We were so sure of it we described the walk to tourists parked next to us; we had also read the distance, time and elevation gain the night before so we passed on that information. I remembered it being a grey drizzly day. As we walked along the path I thought something was “different”, but I wasn’t about to say anything. We get to the first lookout and at that point my husband and I are saying the hike and falls are different than we remember. By the time we hit the base of the falls we both looked at each other and said “We’ve never been here before!”. And then we twigged. We were thinking Sunwapta Falls……..in Jasper National Park…..we were only a couple of national parks out. Then, we had to come clean with the kids.

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The view from the bottom of the falls was quite lovely. The forest wildflowers gave way to Indian Paintbrush, one of my favorites. We stopped and admired the falls for a while, made a quick sketch, and then returned down the path we had just walked.

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Photography by Debra Hunter

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Rosehips

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Tonight I am sifting through images taken recently looking for painting inspiration. I always feel it is easier to paint seasonally, but white on white on grey just isn’t captivating me at the moment. Perhaps the bright red of rosehips will hold my interest, but I’m not quite sure. Are rosehips painting material or just interesting when photographed? Time to have a think.

Photography by Debra Hunter

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Winter in the Park (and back to proper blogging)

I thought it was time to get back to proper blogging. Blogging that is just for enjoyment. Looking back the loss of the cabin derailed blogging for over a year. In all honesty the concept of photography as fun had also disappeared, all wrapped up in one horrible experience (or three if you count the two written off vehicles as well).

For the last couple of weeks I have felt it was time to turn things around. It was time to again shoot some landscapes and nature. It started out as reference images for painting, and then I realized shooting for shooting’s sake was starting to be fun again. So two weeks and hundreds of images later perhaps I am back on track.

Below is a teeny selection of a walk through the park by our home, literally 5 very cold minutes of shooting. And I am back to my first love, black and white, which again feels a positive move. Hopefully this is the step forward to a more positive blog. I hope you enjoy the black and whites.

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