Winter Magic in Kananaskis Country

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“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”

~ J. B. Priestley

December Snow

Hooray! Finally! Finally, the snow has come! It’s been a long wait this year. I love white Decembers, especially with the glow of all the holiday lights. My partner and I have been waiting for the snow to arrive, just so we could head out to the mountains and tromp around in it. There’s nothing we love more than a snowy day in the mountains of Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

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“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”

~ Gary Zukav

Winter Walking: Loving it!

Almost no one else we know really loves winter. But we truly do. We genuinely love the snow. We even love the cold. We take long walks nearly every day here in Calgary, warm or cold, sun or cloud, fog or snow. We enjoy walking no matter what the weather (the secret is having excellent winter wear); but what we love best is going out to the mountains for a winter hike. The peace and tranquility of the mountains in winter are a balm for the soul for city dwellers like us. The beauty is breathtaking.

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“I please myself with the graces of the winter scenery, and believe that we are as much touched by it as by the genial influences of summer.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Planets Align

Everything finally came together for us: the snow came down—lots of it—the temperatures dropped, the skies cleared up, the sun came out, and we both had some free time mid-week. So, off we went to spend the day in the mountains, hiking and enjoying the splendour of Kananaskis Country.

The hour-long drive from Calgary to the Kananaskis was spectacular. There is always some sort of unique beauty to appreciate in the passing landscape. This time, two dazzling sundogs flanked both sides of the sun, a perfectly blue sky framed the snow-white mountains, ice crystals filled the air, making it look as if the gods had strewn pixie dust everywhere. The air magically sparkled and fog slinked around the mountains and floated in the valleys for dramatic effect. When everything comes together like this, we both feel euphoric. Now that’s how to get a natural Rocky Mountain High!

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We are so fortunate that we can get out to the mountain parks mid-week when few people are out there. We passed only a few cars on the park roads, so we were not surprised that we did not see any other cars parked in the trail lots or meet any other people on the trails. It gave us the pleasurable feeling of having this amazing slice of wilderness all to ourselves. We particularly love how serene it is out there on a quiet, windless day. The peacefulness is utterly soothing. We simply can’t get enough of it.

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Trail at Upper Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta. Mount Indefatigable rises in the background.

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Hiking near Boulton Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

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Me and my Sweet Bear.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

~ Lewis Carroll,
Through the Looking-Glass

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The creek, in all its half-frozen beauty. It was silent, but for the gentle burbling of running water beneath the ice. The only other sound we heard was the crunch of snow under our boots and the beating of our own hearts.

“Mid-December is thus one of the most positively magical times of the year. Things are possible during December’s darkening days that are not even dreamt of at other spokes of the Wheel of the Year. We should use this magic as a vehicle for deepening our awareness of the world around us and preparing our souls for the ongoing pilgrimage of our lives. A seeker of Wisdom in the thrall of Winter’s Solstice should consider their celebrations as a spiritual pilgrimage or even a quest, during which, through the disciplined use of the spiritual imagination, he or she may encounter one’s own truest self along the way and in communion with Spirit.”

~ Montague Whitsel, The Fires of Yule

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My partner, happily traipsing through sun-dappled snow.

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter… In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.”

~ John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers”, 1866

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The skeletal bones of last summer’s wildflowers. To me, the seed heads are just as beautiful as the vibrant summer blossoms are. I am always completely mesmerized by the beauty of the cool winter colour palette. I love the way the shadows are cast in varying tones of blue and mauve and the way the sun yields a pleasing soft yellow light.

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Fragrant pine branches, blanketed in fresh snow.

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…
In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”

~ Ruth Stout

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Few things feel more exhilarating and enlivening than winter sunshine, new snow and breathing in fresh, cold, pine and spruce-scented mountain air.

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Peaceful sentinels.

“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”

~ Mary Oliver

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Walking to Pocaterra Warming Hut to enjoy the lunch we packed up: piping hot, hearty, homemade soup, hot tea and some homemade banana-pecan bread. Food never tastes as delicious as it does after a long walk in the snow.

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A happy snowman someone built just outside the hut.

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Toasting our toes in front of the fire at the Pocaterra Warming Hut. We happened to be the only people in the cabin, so we made ourselves quite at home, enjoying our lunch and tea in front of the blazing fire my partner built for us. Life is good.

I love all the seasons—they each have their own intrinsic beauty and mood. Winter is cocooning time and I love it! Happy December!

 

Image Credits:

All photography by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2016 madlyinlovewithlife

19 thoughts on “Winter Magic in Kananaskis Country

  1. beautiful photos. I know about beauty of winter – as I lived in Quebec many years- and now I see snow once in a while . I am missing the snow right now in Vancouver as I am in Mexico for another week. I always say :I love snow but I don’t like cold ( like below 30). This year we are going to try to take time to do some x-country skiing. And hope to take a few shots. Thanks so much for sharing this fun visit you did. continue to enjoy winter and soon it is going to be x-mas. A bit early maybe but I wish you here A very Happy x-mas. I now post every Sunday about our fall trip in Italy. Have a great day, Jeannie.

  2. Oh Jeannie, this is beautiful! How amazing it must be, to see this with your own eyes, and without crowds of tourists :) How can someone not like winter when surrounded by this glorious view? I’m so happy you and your partner could enjoy this wonderful experience. There is a mountain not too far from our new home. Hubby and I have hiked there in warmer months, but not during winter. You have inspired us!

    I hope both of you have a great week ahead. And, happy winter! :)))

    • Hello Takami! Thank you so much for your kind comment. We truly are lucky to experience so much solitude when we go to the mountain parks. We are fortuante in that we can go mid-week and off-season when there are fewer people. Also, most of the tourists go to Banff and Lake Louise rather than Kananaskis Country. We hope to get back out there as soon as we can. I do hope we’ve inspired you to do some winter hiking in your mountains. We’ve seen photos of the scenes in the Japanese mountains and the scenery was spectacular. Wishing you and your hubby a very happy week! :))

  3. Oh such beautiful captures of God’s beauty! And you have such a way with words!
    I have been absent as of late on WordPress but wanted to wish you and yours a Happy Holiday Season!

    • Thank you, Sam! You will make it there one day. The Kananaskis is beautiful, but there are so many beautiful spots in so many of our amazing mountain parks in Alberta and British Columbia. I know you have been to many of them! Wishing you a very happy Holiday Season! :))

  4. Dear Jeannie, I so enjoyed this cheerful walk in the woods and your glowing tribute to winter. I loved hearing about sun dogs (had never heard of them, but have seen curious light halos); your photos were refreshing and exquisite; your enthusiasm was contagious even for me who is not a big fan of the cold (though I might be now that I read this). Lastly, each quote was true wisdom. What a superbly uplifting and delightful post this was. Warm wishes to you and your partner for a delightful winter and happy holiday~~

    • Hello Jet! As always, I very much appreciate your thoughtful, well-written comment. I’m so glad I could convey a little taste of the winter joy we experience. There was a time, years ago, when more and more I began to dislike winter and started grumbling about it along with the masses. But one day, as I walked out in the cold, I had an epiphany: I had never hated winter as a child—I didn’t really think about liking it or not liking it—it simply was. I rarely missed a day of playing outside in it, no matter how cold it was (and back then, I didn’t have the great winter wear we have now). It struck me that the difference between then and now was only my attitude; that it was my complaining and my focusing on the negatives about winter that took away any joy it held. That and the fact that I didn’t go out in it daily like I did as kid.

      After we both invested in superb winter wear and I started take daily winter walks, the beauty and joy of winter came shining through once again. Now, I would truly miss the snow and the short cozy days of cocooning with candlelight and firelight if we lived elsewhere (but I will admit that I would love having a shorter winter and I would also relish a visit to California in the winter!) Isn’t it wonderful how there are so many forms of beauty in this world? That every place on this magnificent planet has its own unique beauty and treasures to behold in every season?

      And thank you for mentioning how much you enjoyed the quotes. I love them too and I never tire of reading them and letting the wisdom of those words wash over me. Two more of my favourite winter quotes are from a wonderful little novel called The Blue Castle, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery:

      “Warm fire—books–comfort—safety from storm—
      our cats on the rug. Moonlight,” said Barney,
      “would you be any happier now if you had a million dollars?”

      ~ Barney Snaith, talking about winter,
      from L. M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle

      And these eloquent words really capture how I feel about winter:

      “December. Early snows and Orion. The pale fires of the Milky Way. It was really winter now—wonderful, cold, starry winter. How Valancy had always hated winter! …But now she loved winter. Winter was beautiful… almost intolerably beautiful. Days of clear brilliance. Evenings that were like cups of glamour—the purest vintage of winter’s wine. Nights with their fire of stars. Cold, exquisite winter sunrises. Lovely ferns of ice all over the windows… Moonlight on birches in a silver thaw. Ragged shadows on windy evenings—torn, twisted, fantastic shadows. Great silences, austere and searching… The sun suddenly breaking through grey clouds… Icy-grey twilights, broken by snow-squalls, when their cozy living-room, with its goblins of firelight and inscrutable cats, seemed cosier than ever. Every hour brought a new revelation and wonder.”

      ~ L. M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

      Thanks again, dear Jet, for your lovely comment. Wishing you and your partner a very Happy New Year. May 2017 be filled with prosperity, love, joy, more fun adventures and lots of laughter. ~ Jeannie :))

      • Dearest Jeannie, thank you for always reminding me of the endless glory we have on earth. You are a very special person, and I am grateful for your friendship. :)

  5. Pingback: Outdoor Ice Skating in California | Jet Eliot

  6. I love winter walks and I understand how impatiently you waiting for when winter comes. A stunningly beautiful scenery! Snow turns the forest into a fairy tale and a walk through this tale brings incredible pleasure.

  7. Jeannie! What a great post. You and your partner are so lucky to live in such a gorgeous place. I’ve been away fro my blog for a while, but now I’m back. And I didn’t know that I mistakenly set it to private! But now it’s open again. I hope to hear from you soon!

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