Hill Walkers

Here is another scene from Scotland.  JK and Carolyn ventured through three days of walking the West Highland Way.  It was very rainy before, during and after those three days.  The scenery was spectacular and lush, and also reflected in the puddles on the trail.  Somehow the moving clouds and unexpected beams of light brought the landscape to life as muted tones shone brightly and shadows enhanced them… just for a moment before the strong colours retired into fog once more.  Hill Walkers.jpg

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Waterfall Inukshuk

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When I saw piled stone way markers in Scotland I wondered if they are part of an ancient custom or something that migrated over from the Canadian North.  Are they called Inuksuit (plural of Inuksuk) in Scotland?  Certainly I have seen them wherever there are rocks and people, these days, so it makes sense that ancient people would have a little rest and pile some rocks as well.  If anyone knows more about the little stone men of Scotland, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

This painting is of a Canadian Inuksuk, I just can’t remember exactly where it was.  The rock at the bottom looked like a bird with outstretched wings, making the little fellow look like he was surfing the breeze.  A lovely idea!  Anyway, this was just a little sketch, the first I did with my travel kit from Scotland.  The colours are excellent!

Scottish Hills

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Scotland was wet.  It was misty and lush and, everywhere the eye could see, tapestried with muted colours that trailed over and into one another in ways that mesmerized.  The Highlands were like a soft, abstract painting, but an ancient building nestled into a mound of rocky grass grounded the scene into blurred realism.

Near the Old Man

The Old Man of Storr, that is.  Carolyn and JK climbed up to this famous monolith.  It was rainy and blowing a gale, but that only made the mysterious stones eerier.  The Old Man isn’t in this view; it’s down the trail a little somewhere in that mist.Near the Old Man.JPG

Hard Luck Canyon

20 kilometres south of Whitecourt, Alberta is a hidden gem for picnickers, walkers, and those who like to play in creeks.  Hardluck Canyon is an unexpected beauty spot just a short walk from the parking lot.DSCF0372.jpg

The view from the top is beautiful (in the picture you can’t see the waterfall you cross over).  The tree and cliffs are too big to fit in the camera’s view but the framing of the scene is perfect.  Steep stairs will take you down to the creek for a splash in the swimming hole and a better view of the waterfall.  There is also some interesting art carved into the soft rock:

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Not that I recommend scratching up a beautiful natural area, but is nice to see that some people received inspiration enough to move beyond “I wuz here”, “T + L” or other short words requiring limited effort and spelling ability.

Snow in the Shipyard

J and I went looking for adventure in the mountains near Tumbler Ridge.  The snow was not part of the plan, but it was beautiful!  We drove up the bouncy mine road past the Boulder Gardens to Shipyard and Titanic, a series of rock formations created by sliding layers and tumbling boulders.dscf9103

The scenery was rather impressive!  This is The Armada from below (a short side hike called Tarns and Towers).dscf9207dscf9127

The Armada again, this time from above and with the mine in the background.  Besides the beautiful view, there was the smell of pines and Labrador Tea and the sound of birds warming up in the crisp, cold air under the cliffs.  The waterfall near the trail was gushing joyfully and the “dry” stream that the trail followed through the alpine meadow was burbling with happy purpose.

DSCF9146.jpgHere’s the corridor between The Titanic and the mountain behind.  The Titanic is a long, narrow rock with a boat-shaped promontory on an upward angle.  To see it properly, a climb farther up the mountain is necessary.  Next time we’ll do that part of the hike and see the tarns caught on the smoother surfaces above the cliffs, but this time the melting snow and mud were a bit of a hindrance.  From below, we could see a group practicing rock climbing up the port side of The Titanic.  We had the ship all to ourselves while we tottered across the narrow hull, but once below the rock again we saw the climbers emerge from a crack in side of The Titanic.  It was a strange feeling to know that they were “below deck” 20 0r 30 feet under us and all those tons of rock.

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From The Titanic, looking down on Bismarck and, the tiny black mound on the far left, The Armada.  The large swath of white snow is the alpine meadow and the stream.

Ogre Canyon

Our trek to Ogre Canyon was quite an adventure.  From acquiring a canine tour guide to finding out that everyone else just drives the six kilometers in, we had some unforeseen encounters; however, we lucked out on getting a ride back out from the man who thought we stole his dog.

Ogre Canyon is near Brule, Alberta (about 8 km away down a bumpy trail).  There is an imposing rock face with a deep cleft.

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The Ogre can be seen in the cliffs near the top of the great crack.  The upper falls will line up to appear to be spouting out of his mouth.  That day the Ogre was just checking out the falls.  Or drooling heavily.

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The convoluted canyon and the lowest of three falls are accessible without climbing.  To enter further requires a bit of scrambling and wet shoes.  The Ogre is difficult to see from the right side of the notch.  There are other strange faces up there with him.

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The current internet craze is to post pictures of scenic places with hard to see people in them.  Can you see the man in this photo?  If so, you can better make out the scale of this canyon.  You might see an angry dog in the rock formations as well.

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The middle falls are reached after passing through a narrow corridor within the canyon notch.  A canyon within a canyon.  It isn’t a long drop for the water but it produces enough spray to make photography difficult.

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The trail continues from the left side of the canyon up the ridge to the top of the falls, but we didn’t carry on.  That was fortunate, as it turned out, because someone was looking for our guide dog.

He was a good guide; to all appearances a practiced hand with knowledge of every side trail, mud puddle and potential picnic spot along the way.  He stuck with us despite our every effort to make him turn back or help other people.  He worked for nothing but the pleasure of a good walk and companionship.  In other words, he knew exactly what he was doing.

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He got us that ride back to town, too.