Ptarmigan Cirque 2020

Around noon, Cathy, Anne and I hiked up to Ptarmigan Cirque, one of the most magical landscape bowls that I’ve come across.  A scenic drive from Longview, I feel myself unwind every time I have the opportunity to do this.

A little earlier in the season, I was gobsmacked by the multitude of Glacier Lilies that were in full bloom, as well as White-flowering Mountain Avens (Dryas hookeriana).  These made the hike today really special.

Be warned, the trails this summer, are heavily traveled compared to any other year.  On one hand, it excites me that so many people, with their children, are getting out to see the wonders that Alberta/B.C. offer.  On the other hand, sometimes I worry about preparedness as I see little children heading up in little sandals and no jackets. (The wind up at the top was cold and pretty powerful today.  I guess everyone learns their lessons in their own time, so, I’m leaving these thoughts as mere observations.

The air was so intoxicating.  It was cool and fragrant.

Conversation was easy among friends.  I loved sharing the trail with these two.  Again, my words are going to be limited, here, but I am excited to share a little bit of what we experienced today in photographs.  Anne and Cathy, I love you, dear friends.

I hold nature and wilderness in deepest regard.  Such joy…I’ve not found anywhere else.



Ptarmigan Cirque

I’ve wanted to take my daughter and son-in-law up to the Cirque for a few years and it finally happened.  I also wanted to be with my hiking friend, Cathy, who has such a natural and beautiful connection with the mountains.  And gratefully, friend, Michael, could also join us.  So, we took our pot luck and headed up Longview direction.  A bit of a late start, we got on the trail just after the first explosion of hail in the parking lot.

The hike held some really fantastic moments.  I was in bliss at the beautiful showing of wild flowers.  Everything seemed more lush because of the moisture.  Forget-me-nots blooming, electric blue, next to yellow flowers, made me think of Mom.  Pink paintbrush, wild asters, Queen Anne lace…what a show!

The smell of the air…glorious!

The company…the people I was with…fun and patient and willing.


Weather…dramatic…frightening at times, but contributed to a different experience of these towering mountains!  Thunder booms in a bowl of tall mountains are just somehow, different!

Apart from two Instagram shots, I didn’t archive any of this, but will post the collected photos here.

To begin…images from my first hike up Ptarmigan in 2010.

Ptarmigan Cirque 032Ptarmigan Cirque 030Ptarmigan Cirque 027Ptarmigan Cirque 024Ptarmigan Cirque 021Ptarmigan Cirque 019Ptarmigan Cirque 015Ptarmigan Cirque KathPtarmigan Cirque 009Ptarmigan Cirque 004

Yesterday’s Archives, beginning with our drive to Longview.  Canola field…candy purchase at the corner gas station in Black Diamond…the chat that goes on between friends, heading for the mountains.  Michael Collett…the artist snapping the shot.

Ptarmigan Cirque Michael Collett 2016

Also, Michael’s photograph…an opening view from the trees…stops and starts of rain by this point.

Ptarmigan Cirque Michael Collett 2 2016

My two little Instagram shots…Cathy ahead of me on the shale traverse.

Ptarmigan Cirque Kath Instagram 2 2016

The meadow…rich green always awes me.

Ptarmigan Cirque Kath Instagram 2016

Cathy’s phone…she captures…or attempts to capture the flowers in the meadows.  We both agreed we have never seen them like this.  Spectacle!

Ptarmigan Cirque Cath 2Ptarmigan Cirque Cath 3

As per usual, I am the least attractive woman at the trail!  Yesterday, wearing a Pitch-In bag.  lol

Ptarmigan Cirque Cath 4

This photograph speaks for itself.  We’re in mountain bliss at this point.Ptarmigan Cirque Cath 7Ptarmigan Cirque Cath 6

My friend…

Ptarmigan Cirque Cath 11

But, what of the others?  Here are Doug’s photos…Michael seems to not be represented well in this set of photographs.  He is an intense explorer…likely observing light and colour!

Ptarmigan Doug 4Ptarmigan Doug 3Ptarmigan Doug 2Ptarmigan Doug 1

I love the artistry in Doug’s photos…the image below, I guess, shows scale.  lol Erin and Michael coming down from a wee jaunt they did on a higher trail.

Ptarmigan Doug 5

This one shows the glory of it all.Doug's Artistry

Proud of my son-in-law, Douglas…a great way to celebrate Canada Day weekend!

Ptarmigan Doug solo

Awe!  There’s Mike!Doug's Ptarmigan Mike

We made it to the parking lot…a tad wet, but very satisfied!

Ptarmigan we made it

And then…the tailgate party.

Ptarmigan doug 6

And the drive home…no less magical!  We stopped at that canola field.  The drama of the evening’s sky evolved as we headed toward the city.  This is Michael’s photograph.

Ptarmigan Cirque Michael Collett 3 2016

I’m a single woman in the world.  If I think too much about it, I can get sad about that…the fact that I don’t have a life partner, helping me reach the things high in my cupboards or rubbing my back when I get the pukes.  Truth is, I realize how grateful I am for my children, my son-in-law, his family, my family near and far and my dear friends who are always there with their thoughts, ideas, tremendous support.  I don’t know what I’d be without them!  Thank you.


Diamond T Loop Kananaskis

I went on a nice walk with a couple of friends out in Kananaskis Country.  There was no shortage of beautiful texture and colour in the aspen and fir forest.  A couple of nights of heavy rain and the trail has been left wet and muddy.  I enjoyed getting out into that mountain air, exerting myself enough to get a sweat-on.  There is nothing comparable!  So, a great day!  I made an effort to collect some photographs of mushrooms and surrounding vegetation.

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Hiking the Brown-Lowery Provincial Park Trails

It was a wonderful opportunity to get in a spring hike, when I was called in as a substitute teacher on a field-trip day!  I had been up this way before and wasn’t particularly happy about the mosquitoes that acted like jet-fighters; it was so boggy and hot.  This day, though, was different!  While there were a limited variety of wild flowers in bloom as yet, I enjoyed recollections of my last journey, when the meadows magically came to life with white blooms and huge elephant-ear leaves.  I am still struggling to identify this plant because there are very similar wild flowers; White Angelica, Spotted Water Hemlock, and Cow Parsnip.  It happened that yesterday, these were not blooming.

Just fading, were Calypso bulbosa var. americana ‘Eastern-fairy Slipper’.  In huge quantity were Mertensia paniculata ‘Tall Lungwort, Bluebell’. Arnica cordifolia or Mule’s Ear Daisies were plentiful, as were Linaria vulgaris ‘Toadflax, Butter and Eggs’ at our lunch spot.  As we hiked out in the rain, we found some beautiful wild tiger lilies. I haven’t noted here, all of the plants I discovered yesterday, but will research and add them in later.  Bird songs were varied and magical, although I wasn’t able to make any sitings and I’m really inexperienced, identifying by song alone.  Suffice it to say, it was a fantastic thing to get out hiking.  It was exhilarating and I continue to absolutely love where I live!

Brown-Lowery Provincial Park is an unexpected refuge of greenery in ranching country. This 228-hectare park is a lovely preserve of old-growth spruce and aspen forest with an extensive understorey of wild flowers (in season) and other plants.

In low-lying areas, marshes fed by tiny streams support wetland vegetation including cow parsnips. Brown-Lowery Provincial Park is a series of rough trails that wind through what seems to be a vast property.  The land was donated to the province by Home Oil founders Robert Brown Sr and Major James Robert Lowery in the 1960’s. This site, previously a recreation area, became a Provincial Park in 1992-1993. Not many Calgarians know of the park, so it’s generally crowd free, and a great place to wander and take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest!

The Park is just northwest of Turner Valley, southwest of Priddis, and is accessed from Highway 762 (turn at the sign for “Plummer’s Road”). It’s not a big area — only about 3 km2 — but there’s plenty of hiking to be done.

The area is a maze of trails and paths, some leading to viewpoints, some along creeks, and some to the remains of structures in the area — a cabin and a sawmill.

During the spring, the area is known for its birdwatching potential and is a wonderful preserve for all wildlife.

Our lunch spot provided the most breath-taking view, after a couple of very athletic ‘ups’, the students were celebratory and hungry!  It was a wonderful respite from the city!

The setting provided a panoramic screen where we watched the dramatic weather see its origins in the mountains and travel one valley after another, toward us.

We got down into the low brush as the lightning grew in force.  Fortunately, we only experienced one downpour and enjoyed the challenges that mud provides on a downward slope. :0)  A magical day, for certain!

Let’s Hit the Road, Jack!

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. Anais Nin

Valentine’s Day 2012: Alberta Wilderness Association

It is a beautiful thing to have the Castle and Kananaskis wilderness in such close proximity to the city!  I believe that we need to do everything possible to protect this wilderness.

I remember collecting coin during the festival at Maycroft Crossing so many years ago.  As a ‘Friend of the Oldman’, I hoped that the last ditch effort of so many people would halt the building of the dam on the Oldman River.  The dam went ahead.  I look back on my life and see many points where, along the way, I attempted to have my voice heard on issues related to the environment.  The folk I met down at the McDougall Center today were invigorated and full of hope.  It was so encouraging to witness their enthusiasm!

Some related information and stories are included here, here, and here.

Little Highwood Pass

The painting of the larch trees was finished last evening and another begins after teaching today.  As I was painting into the dark passages, I was most wondering about how we can see forms in the dark.  When we hiked in during the morning, everything was light….but it did not take long and the sun was on the west side of the mountain top and a huge shadow was cast over everything, leaving only the water below, illuminated, along with a bank of larch trees.  Such a beautiful sight so early in the afternoon.  I found that cerulean blue could be painted over magenta and ultramarine/burnt umber forms to create the mass of rock that I was looking for in the shadows.  I also used some barium red to invigorate the darkness.