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Old 10-10-2007, 06:43 PM   #1
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Snow, Fall Colours and Altitude in the Canadian Rockies

With winter fast approaching, I decided it was time to grab the last of the high country riding around here. I did a bit or exploring on Google Earth and noticed a nice little trail that seemed to go up a ridge into the alpine behind Kimberly.
This is what I was looking at. Check out the trail that ends at the placemark.


Starting in Cranbrook, I headed towards Kimberly on the pavement and then up the St. Mary’s Lake road. It was one of those perfect fall days that makes me think the winter will never come. (Of course, we’ll pay for it when winter actually does come!) On the up, I noticed a couple of logging trucks. “I wonder where they’re logging…”

I overshot it at first, but there it was, the Matthew Creek forest service road.


Forestry roads are “radio controlled” meaning that when there is active log hauling, you should have a 2-way radio on the correct frequency to be in contact with the trucks hauling logs. Much of the roads are single-lane, so if you encounter one of these trucks, you’re the one going in the ditch.

The road looked fine…



Seemed like it had been well-used recently. I decided to take the “road more traveled” at the first intersection.
And soon I came up against the first logging truck.

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Old 10-10-2007, 07:26 PM   #2
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He stopped to ask how far I was going. “No idea…” I asked him where the logging was happening. “Kilometre 10”. We went our separate ways. I decided to go check out the logging. Even though I’ve spent years living in BC, I’d never actually seen active logging. It was quite interesting.







Skidders (the 4-wheeled yellow thing) clamp a bundle of logs in the “lobster claw” at the back and drag them down to the landing where the machine with the red arm grabs each log with a unit that reels the log through, cuts it into lengths and strips the branches off as it deposits it into the next pile. Then the machine behind it with the yellow arm grabs bundles of trees and piles them onto the waiting logging truck. Frighteningly efficient and mechanized. Only takes 4 people to tear down acres of forest, drag, strip and load the trees. We’ve certainly become efficient as a species at extracting what we need from our world. At this rate, we’ll poison our Petri dish pretty quickly.

What’s left of the forest…

That snowy ridge in the background is where I want to end up.
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Old 10-10-2007, 07:28 PM   #3
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I knew, by this point, that taking the “road more traveled” had brought me to the wrong side of the ridge that I wanted to go up… but I thought there might be a way up from this side… especially since I saw a sign that said “High Pass Forest Service Road” just a little ways back. Hell, it was worth a try. For about 3km there was a good road to a recent clear cut and then the road just ended. WTF? After scouting around a bit, I noticed that the old road still continued behind a huge pile of logging debris. I managed to pick my way around it and onward up an old slippery, rocky trail to the ridge top. I topped out into an old forest fire area.



More to come…
(BTW, feel free to comment... I love feedback!)

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Old 10-11-2007, 07:52 AM   #4
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The trail continued on up along the crest of the ridge. It turns out that the large-looking trail on Google Earth was actually a 20metre wide fire break with a little track going up the side of it. The snow started getting a little deeper and the trail kept going up. Finally, it ended in a little notch in the ridge. I left my bike there and hiked on up the ridge. Here’s the view back down to the bike…



There had been some ATV’s up there within the last couple of days. They had decided to claw their way further up the ridge.


Geesh, no wonder concerned citizens are worried about motorized back country use! These guys had certainly left their marks…

I hiked up to the first peak in the ridge and hung out for a while taking photos.
These are east across the Kootenay/Columbia valley towards the Rockies:





That's Montana waaay off in the distance.



And these are west into the Purcell Range and St. Mary’s Alpine Provincial Park.



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Old 10-11-2007, 09:46 AM   #5
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I sat down, enjoyed the view, and ate my gourmet gas station lunch.


It was getting late, so I decided to head back down to my motorbike. Couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos of my ugly friend …





Part way back down the ridge, I noticed this side trail. It was only 50metres from a Google Earth waypoint I recorded for what looked like a connector going down the other side of the ridge (amazing! What did we do before GPS and Google Earth?)


The trail eventually led down to the bottom of the valley. Looks like this bridge only has a few seasons left in it…
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:02 AM   #6
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Stunnigf pics and scenery
If we had stuff like that, I doubt I'd ever come down off the mountain

Thanks
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:05 AM   #7
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Very pretty up there
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Burtonridr
Very pretty up there
Yep, and not too far from Boise!
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cupid Stunt
Stunnigf pics and scenery
If we had stuff like that, I doubt I'd ever come down off the mountain

Thanks
love your handle!
Hey, I checked out your report on Wales. Looks pretty stunning too! The weather reminds me of when i was there stomping around the Brecon Beacons. I now know why Welsh wool is so good. The sheep need to survive somehow!
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Old 10-11-2007, 12:56 PM   #10
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Beautiful!! But all that snow is distressing --- riding season is closing in... !!! Thanks for posting
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Old 10-11-2007, 01:07 PM   #11
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Beautiful. You Rockies guys sure know how to depress the flatlanders...
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Old 10-11-2007, 02:20 PM   #12
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Beetle infestation?

Just worked last weekend with a guy from Denver who said the Asian Beetles are destroying all of the fir trees and the entomololists predict the bugs will soon eat every fir tree in the Rockies! There is nothing they can do to stop them. Most of the fir trees around the Wintergreen Ski Resort are dead or dying. Were some of the trees in your pics affected by the beetles? Some of them look a little sickly?
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyNavy
Just worked last weekend with a guy from Denver who said the Asian Beetles are destroying all of the fir trees and the entomololists predict the bugs will soon eat every fir tree in the Rockies! There is nothing they can do to stop them. Most of the fir trees around the Wintergreen Ski Resort are dead or dying. Were some of the trees in your pics affected by the beetles? Some of them look a little sickly?
Actually, the yellow trees are larches (also known as tamarack). It is a deciduous needle tree that loses it's needles in the fall. They are quite pretty, especially in the alpine. There doesn't seem to be a fir tree problem in this part of the world, but there is definitely a pine tree problem. The mountain pine beetle has, to this point, destroyed 24 million acres of pine forest in BC. (that's larger than the state of Indiana) The epidemic is a result of warmer winters which no longer kill off most of the larvae. Apparently there needs to be a couple of weeks of 30 below weather to keep them in check.
Here's more info... http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/mountain_pine_beetle/

This is what the forest looks like after it's been hit...
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
Beautiful!! But all that snow is distressing --- riding season is closing in... !!! Thanks for posting
Yeah, you're right... but I'm thinking those Alaska guys are on to something with their studded tires...
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:37 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LATJ
Beautiful. You Rockies guys sure know how to depress the flatlanders...
Hey LATJ, didn't mean to inject a downer into your life.

At least it's on the same continent! Now those Himalayan ride reports are what really get the envy gland pumping.
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