Kananaskis, Alberta

DSC07254Before bidding adieu to Calgary and Canada we took a short trip to Kananaskis set amidst the towering Canadian Rockies hiding their bleakness under passive layers of melting snow. I suppose it is the pronunciation, Kananaskis, emphasis on two Ns, that adds to the topographical mystique of the place. It took me some time to get the name correct and this helped set the genial mood of the drive through the now brown prairie land towards the mountain foothills. Kananaskis Valley was home to nomadic Stoney Indians, a mountain Sioux band, who had lived and hunted in the barren flats of Bow Valley and mountain paths of the treacherous Rockies. One does get a feel of the awesomeness of the surroundings from the Lookouts along the walking trails overlooking Kananaskis River.

FotorCreatedKananaskis Country or K-Country and Village, an hours drive from downtown Calgary, tumbles out of a picture gallery with snow-covered meadows, gurgling mountain rivers, swishy- chirpy cool breeze rustling through Spruce Pines, trembling Aspens and other vegetation visited by discreet wildlife. The bears were still in hibernation and once again we had to be content with grazing Elk and mountain goats.

Frozen Kananaskis Lake

Winter is the time for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and ice fishing, came across a couple in the frozen Kananaskis Lake areaClose at hand are the Nakiska Ski runs and we could see the skiers cascading down snow-ribbons. Nakiska was developed during the 1988 Winter Olympics and remains popular with novices, professionals and habitual skiers for its variety of terrain. Other nearby popular ski runs are Fortress Mountain for cat skiing and Canmore Nordic Center Provincial Park for its 65 km of designed ski trails.

Summer is another holiday opportunity and the mountains resonate with enthusiastic energy of mountain bikers, trail-blazers, hikers, horse riders, campers and golfers. Add to this kayaking, rafting and water sports and for loungers perfect selfie moments from decks of cozy lodges amidst the greenery.

ImageHike: Our hike was confined to Village Rim Trails, a flat, short paved easy path wrapped around east end of Delta Lodge. It is an exhilarating walk with spectacular views of the meandering Kananaskis River and valley, a beaming Mount Kidd and other peaks. The lookouts, Points 1 to 5, with conveniently placed wooden benches, are tempting journey breakers to watch the changing colors of the peaks attuned to bracing mountain air.

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The entire Kananaskis region with its wooded and rocky slopes, caves, canyons and river paths is a hiker’s haven, graduating from simple to tough.

IMG_4235The refreshing mountain air makes us ravenous and our short walk ends in Woody’s Pub & Lounge.

 

Odds and Ends

Ailsa’s Challenge\Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

Wall writings in a Pub…appropriate for the festive season. Gurgaon, India

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Odd balls one cannot discard….a Goat Walk ( somewhere in British Columbia, Canada)

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Toronto…….waterscape walks

IMG_3424The best way to know a city, especially a city like Toronto with its pockets of antiquity and panache, is walking. I do not know about others but using the services of my two legs gives me a sense of permeability, of understanding a city’s past and present, the mysteries and marvels of urbanity and pastoral.

Toronto has it share of parks, green lungs of a city, and one that is making waves is Park HTO a six-acre public dry white sands beach/park along the Northern Shores of Lake Ontario.  HTstretches from Bathurst Street in the west, along Queen’s Quay with Eastern boundary on Yonge or York Street and Gardiner Expressway in the North. The omnipresent CN Tower is a spectator and a beacon and as a Torontian pointed out ‘you can never get lost if you follow the tower’ from whichever part of the city to happen to be.

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We start from the eastern half or HTO Park West, the site of former Maple Leaf Mills Silos, to walk along the waterfront towards the old Peter Street Slip, once home to industrial units and commercial structures,  gingerly stepping on the white sands, the dry beach dotted with yellow umbrellas and Muskoka chairs. The beach and the concrete paths are a walkers delight with only a metal rail separating land from the water.

IMG_3429The stroll continues on the Wave Deck, reflecting the waves of Lake Ontario, past the Marina with bobbing boats, brightly painted kayaks, schooners with unfurled sails and cruise ships.

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IMG_3426It is difficult to imagine that the area was once dominated by quays used by ships docking in Toronto’s Inner Harbour

IMG_3442Families and tourists take full advantage of the clear, bright summer afternoon with sun reflected in the unblemished waters of Lake Ontario, picnicking, walking, jogging, skateboarding or flocking towards Harbour Centre, a former warehouse and now converted into galleries and space for cultural events, theater and dance performances and the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal for ferry rides to Toronto Islands.
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Toronto Islands walk-on: We joined the ferry queue for Ward’s Island and were lucky to manage tickets considering the rush, bikes and pets included. It was the last Summer weekend before the schedule shifted to winter timings.

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View of city from the Island

Toronto Islands were continuously moving sandbars carried westwards by Lake Ontario currents and it was around 1858 that severe storms helped create the Island, completely separating it from the mainland. The Europeans referred to the main peninsula as “Island of Hiawatha’.  The Islands gained popularity as holiday and residential areas with amusement parks, hotels and shops. But around 1960s demolition of majority of construction, with cottages confined to Ward’s Island and Algonquin Island, created open spaces for recreation purposes.

The ferry deposits us, the dogs and bikes, on Ward’s Island on the easternmost part of Centre Island. We make our way towards Centre Island, situated between Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point Island, a leisurely 3 km walk on the Boardwalk flanking the lake. Few minutes before Centre Island is the bridge for Algonquin Island another residential area. Ward’s Island is named after the Ward family who had settled here around 1830. David Ward was a local fisherman and it was his son William who constructed the landmark Ward’s Hotel south of the ferry docks at Channel Avenue. Till 1881 the hotel and Wiman’s Bath attracted visitors but by 1922 the hotel building deteriorated to turn into a grocery store and ice-cream parlor.

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It is a pleasant, car-free residential area with side-walk streets and a brief stop at the rocky Ward’s Island beach, close to ferry-dock along Withrow Street, we were back on the Boardwalk admiring the frisky waters with bobbing yachts and boats. There is ‘clothing optional’  Hanlan’s Point Beach, a 45 mins walk from Ward’s Island, on the western side of Toronto Island. .

IMG_3618The continuous walk on the boardwalk can get monotonous and best is to stop, sit on benches, take photographs and appreciate the silence. On the left is the stretch of water and on the right the green patches, play areas, clubhouses, Victorian mansions and beach houses shaded by trees in different autumnal hues. There are paths cutting across manicured green spaces, play areas, picnic spots and we took one towards the  Centre Island and the only open food kiosk selling pizzas. There are other eating options but we preferred to relax under the domed sky, people watching.

Close by is Far Enough Farm with common farm livestock and birds, the Franklin Garden, based on the popular children’s storybook character Franklin the Turtle, and Centerville, a children’s amusement park built-in 1967 with a 1900-style turn of century theme. Toronto Islands are clearly a family fun Island with beaches, ponds, boating, restaurants, tram tours and hiking and biking options.

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The vivid, sparkling Lake Ontario

The Middle Island is referred to as Centre Island and the Centre Island is called Toronto Island. Bit confusing and before we could get further confused, whether to watch the sunset and city lights from Olympic Island east of the Centre Island ferry dock or to leave. We decided to catch the return ferry from Center Island ferry point for Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and walk back to  Downtown past CN Tower and Roger’s Centre.

Information:

Best time to visit: May to September. One can spend an entire day on the Islands.

 

Calgary …Snow steps

‘You’ve got to be kidding…a perpetually ‘cold’ person like you planning of spending winter in Calgary’…’Awesome’….’An actual snowman’…There are more questions, innuendoes, negatives and a few positives.

So here I am in the thick of snow set to enjoy my first ‘Christmas Card’ Christmas of twinkling lights, snowmen and snow fairies against a backdrop of white fluffy snow….leaving my footprints and a fallen glove. I later picked it up after taking the picture’

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