Snowshoeing – Sawmill Trail Kananaskis Country

  • Distance – Sawmill Snowshoe Loop – 5.07 km
  • Elevation Gain – 143 metres

On my last trip up to Bow Lake I found myself standing in the parking lot looking out across a field of snow that was at least five feet deep, and it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to buy snowshoes.

After looking around a bit I found a pair on sale for half price (thank you Black Friday) at Atmosphere, and decided to put aside my prejudiced of the Forzani Group (I don’t support them because they always mis-represent sales and all sorts of other dirty selling tricks….. and surprise they did it to me again…. but despite that it was still a great deal).

Anyway, the point is I bought a pair of snowshoes, and after starring at them on the living room floor for about a month I finally had a chance to try them out.

I wanted to try and get a picture of the Three Sisters Mountains from across Gap Lake on Highway 1A, and for what may be the first time ever I actually made it out there in the dark and was ready to go as the sun broke the horizon. Of course that never actually happened, because it was cloudy and overcast and colourless, and the mountains weren’t even visible across the lake. Not only that, but it was about fifteen below zero and the wind was so strong I only lasted about ten minutes outside (it was so windy that my tripod and camera went sliding across the ice in the middle of a shot, and I had to run out onto the lake after it, thankfully I had the tripod as low as it would go, and it never fell over).

After complete failure at Gap Lake I headed through Canmore and up the Spray Lakes Trail looking for wildlife, which I found absolutely none. It was cloudy and snowy the whole way with pretty much nothing to be seen. Eventually I made it to the Burstall Lakes parking area, where I was planning to give snowshoeing a try, but before I managed to get out of the car a half dozen SUVs pulled in behind me and what seemed like a hundred people piled out with cross-country skis.

So I left….

The next stop on the road was the Sawmill Trail, and after a quick look at the trail map I figured it was a good place for a first try.

I spent a good ten minutes in the parking lot trying to figuring out how to get the snowshoes on (apparently that wasn’t long enough, because about halfway through the hike one fell off and I realised I had it completely wrong). Eventually I made it onto the trail and headed into the forest. The trail was groomed which I thought was really silly at first, because why bother with snowshoes if the trail is groomed. But then later when it (the snowshoe) fell off in mid stride and I sunk hip deep in the middle of the trail I changed my mind about that.

When I first started out I was really surprised by how easy it was, and after a few minutes hardly even noticed I was wearing snowshoes. My favourite part was running downhill off-trail in deep powder sinking and sliding a foot or two with each step, it was a lot of fun.

The hike itself was nice, but not very exciting, although I think there may have been some nice mountain views (it was snowing the whole time, and  I only caught a glimpse or two of the surrounding mountains), the trail was forested the entire way, with no room to get a decent scenic photo. There’s a couple of different trail options, the distance posted is only one possible route.

Although conditions could have been a whole lot better, and the trail wasn’t anything special  it was a fantastic first try with the snowshoes, and I was defiantly impressed by the experience.

***Note to self…… Wear less clothes (it may have been cold in the parking lot, but five minutes up the trail I was stripping off layers and sweating like crazy)!

As far as photography goes, it was a pretty awful day, although I blame the weather for   much of it, I now know that I have a lot to learn about winter photography.

Gap Lake in winter, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Gap Lake in winter, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Gap Lake in winter, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Gap Lake in winter, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Gap Lake in winter, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Gap Lake in winter, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail - Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail – Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail - Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail – Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail - Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail – Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail - Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail – Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail - Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail – Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail - Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Sawmill snowshoe trail – Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada

Created by My Tracks on Android.

Total distance: 5.07 km (3.2 mi)
Total time: 1:38:50
Moving time: 46:59
Average speed: 3.08 km/h (1.9 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 6.48 km/h (4.0 mi/h)
Max speed: 9.00 km/h (5.6 mi/h)
Average pace: 19.49 min/km (31.4 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 9.27 min/km (14.9 min/mi)
Min pace: 6.67 min/km (10.7 min/mi)
Max elevation: 1953 m (6409 ft)
Min elevation: 1810 m (5938 ft)
Elevation gain: 208 m (682 ft)
Max grade: 0 %
Min grade: 0 %
Recorded: 16-12-2012 10:17
Activity type: – Snowshoeing

saawmillsnowshoe


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