The Elbow Falls winter gate is now open. You can drive on Highway 66 through the Elbow Valley to the end of the road at the Little Elbow Recreation Area where you'll find Forgetmenot Pond. There you'll also see the front range of the Rocky Mountains.
Forgetmenot Pond (left) is one of the highlights of the Elbow Valley.
The Nihahi Ridge trail (right) is one of the best hikes in the valley.
The photo of an empty table above is a bit misleading. The unmistakeable appeal of Forgetmenot makes it quite difficult to find an empty table on weekends and holidays. You should try to get there as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Otherwise bring a tarp and sit on the ground.
There is a short interpretive trail that runs out of the Forgetmenot Pond parking area, which is the first left after you enter the Little Elbow Rec Area. If you continue along the river bank, past the footbridge that connects to the Big Elbow trail, you can eventually get to the Nihahi Ridge trail. This is the best hike in the Elbow Valley in my estimation.
This is about as close as it gets to "when do they let the animals out" in Kananaskis (or maybe, when do you let them in). The winter gates on Highway 66 at Elbow Falls and the road up to the Moose Mountain trailhead will open on May 15. A conservation officer once told me that they close the road west of Elbow Falls to reduce the stress on the wildlife through the winter and during their birthing season.
This is a good time to provide the link to the Kananskis Conservation Officers trail reports. These are excellent guides to conditions on the trails; particularly important at this time of year with heavy snows, and lots of mud when the snow melts.
Treat our Alberta Headwaters Like the Treasures They Are
A century of clear cut logging, oil and gas development and out-of-control off-road vehicle abuse has left the headwaters of the South Saskatchewan River fragmented and scarred. Natural river flows are 12% lower than in the mid twentieth century.
Please note: the Elbow and Bow Rivers are part of the South Saskatchewan River basin.
Poll created March 18. As of, May 15. this petition has 1,185 signatures. Their goal is 5,000
Stop Clearcut Logging in West Bragg Creek - Kananaskis Country
SustainK invite you to join those who are already petitioning Premier Redford, reminding her that K-Country should be preserved as Peter Lougheed intended back in 1977 - that the Eastern Slopes should be primarily for watershed and recreation (source: Policy for Management of Eastern Slopes) - and asking her to put in place a full and complete facilitated public consultation process BEFORE planning clear-cut operations in the West Bragg Creek and Elbow Valley corridor of Kananaskis.
Poll created January 18. As of May 15 this petition has 7,862 signatures. Their goal is 10,000
The forest is a critical part of the ecosystem that supplies fresh water to the city of Calgary. Take away the trees and you remove the sponge that absorbs water during winter and releases it through the spring and summer. Exposed earth erodes into the creeks and rivers choking them with sediment and loading them with heavy metals and nutrients. All of this degrades the quality and quantity of water, it can contribute to flood and drought and it adds to the cost and difficulty of cleaning the water for human use. And that's just the impact on the water. Remove the forest and you remove the habitat for animals, you remove the essence of what draws hundreds of thousands to enjoy outdoor activities, you devalue residential property values and you reduce the number of people that patronize businesses in the gateway communities.
The 5-minute HD video below shows a close-up view of the birds going about their business. I put a miniature camera unobtrusively in and near their feeding stations, providing a close-up view of the birds and their behaviour.
I take down my bird feedrers during the summer in part because the birds have plenty to eat and also the feeders attract bears. So in mid-November I load up the sunflower seeds and the niger seeds to help the birds through the winter. The Black-Capped Chickadee, Nuthatch, Grey Jay and Blue Jay live here all year. During the winter the Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Pine Grosbeak and ocasionally Evening Grosbeak join them. This makes for a fair amount of activity around the feeders. I used to feed the deer until wildlife officers said that attracting deer will only attract cougar, so I stopped. It really hasn't made much difference as the deer like to clean up under the feeders, eating the seeds that fall to the ground.
This pine grosbeak crashed into my window - something that happens more than I like. This photo was taken about 10 minutes after the crash while he was stunned and immobile. About an hour later a squirrel made a run at him, but he was able to fly into a tree where he stayed for another 3 hours until he was able to continue about his business.
Living among wildlife is one of the great things about living in Bragg Creek. The deer visit daily and other creatures appear out of the forest on occasion. Sometimes I am lucky enough to capture them on video, but most of the time they are hidden in plain sight or gone in a flash.
Time lapse sunrise and moonset over Moose Mountain in winter
I used my 808 key chain camera to capture an image every 30-seconds as the moon went down and the sun came up over Moose Mountain near Bragg Creek, AB
Albert Warren Bragg
At the end of the 1800's a couple of young brothers, John and Albert Bragg ran away from their home in Nova Scotia on a western adventure. They were camped out by a creek in the foothills of Alberta in 1894 when A.O. Wheeler surveyed (drew a map of) what was then the Northwest Territories for the Canadian government. That's how we got the name of our community.
John Bragg, a descendant of Albert has gained notariety for his business acumen. According to the Globe and Mail, he now lives in "the white house which was the boyhood home of Albert Warren Bragg, Johnís fatherís uncle, who went west to try out ranching and founded the Alberta settlement of Bragg Creek. Today, Bragg Creek is a picturesque dormitory community for Calgary, and home to many of the cityís business barons."
Part of Bragg's corporate empire includes Eastlink a communications company that provides Internet services for Redwood Meadows.
The West Bragg Creek forest will never be the same again
There is only one solution to the problem of West Bragg Creek and that is to transfer jurisdiction over the northeastern section of Kananaskis to the Alberta Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Recreation. That would require a premier with vision and courage to effect such a change. I am working on a "Before and After Photo Gallery" to remind us of what we'll lose to logging.
Most of the trails in West Bragg Creek are on this Bing.com map. The markers attached to the trails have photos of the forest, many of them showing logging tape flags. The orange flags indicate where the logging will occur and the pink & black tape indicates a haul road. Some photos show the dramatic difference between a mature forest, with its open understory and a new forest which is a dense mass of trees. Along the trails you'll see stunning views of mountains and forests, there is an innukshuk and many people out enjoying the trails. There is life and energy on the trails.
Spray Lakes Sawmills will be clear cutting the forest in West Bragg Creek as of October 2012. I hope you will take the time and make the effort to let your government know that this is a really bad idea. An updated Action List is located here
Not a fire in the fireplace, but a Flicker. I heard some some thumping and bumping coming from my chimney. When I opened the flue a rather large bird dropped down into the fireplace. It was gorgeous - brilliant red/orange feathers and a dramatic red handlebar moustache spiralling out from its beak. I tried to capture it in the hearth but it escaped and flew around the house for a while until it crashed into a window. Stunned, it stopped long enough for me to capture it in a garbage can and I released it outside. It was a little worse for wear, but it will live to tell the tale.
I stopped at the original Trading Post on White Ave. recently where I learned a few interesting facts about the Pow Wow from the owner Barb Teghtmeyer. The Pow Wow attracted 5,000 visitors in 2012 and there were 1,000 dancers registered. Another fascinating fact; an adult sized jingle dress should have 365 bells attached.
This video shows the traditional dancing, drumming, singing and game playing that make up the annual celebration known as a Pow Wow. The dancers wear colourful and often dramatic traditional outfits to compete in dance competitions in categories like the grass and jingle dance.
The Tsuu T'ina are one of 45 First Nations in Alberta. The video shows which bands are covered under Treaty 7 and where the nations are located in Alberta. Everyone is welcome to attend the free Pow Wow; a traditional festival where the Tsuu T'ina play host to natives from across North America many of whom camp on the grounds in RVs or tipis.
Bragg Creek is a popular destination for Calgarians looking for a break from the city and as a gateway to nature and the recreational activities available in Kananaskis. There are about seventy businesses located in 5 malls in the hamlet of Bragg Creek and in separate buildings along White Avenue or Balsam Avenue. Park the car and stroll around the hamlet. Just about everything is within a 15-minute walk.
The 3 1/2 minute video below offers a peak at the hamlet and the shopping and services available there.
If you have some time and energy, you can take a walking tour of Bragg Creek starting at the Provincial Park and ending at the bridge over the Elbow River.
Several residents have been testing the water in Bragg Creek since 2005. They measure its depth, temperature, turbity (how dirty it is) and take note of what the weather is like. Then they take a sample and test it for nitrates, chloride and phosphate. All of this data will prove very useful when we want to determine how healthy the creek is. If you want to become a citizen scientist, get in touch.
It was here that the first church in Alberta was erected in 1873. There is a cairn marking the spot about 11 kilometres northeast of what is now the hamlet of Bragg Creek. You can read about it and see photos too by following this link.
Sam Livingston was an important settler in Alberta, bringing innovative agriculture and trading buffalo hides. In 1873 he settled in West Bragg Creek near Jumpingpound which was on the route used by the First Nations peoples to travel along the foothills. His great grandson used to be the fire lookout officer on Moose Mountain around the year 2000. Livingston is considered one of the first citizens of Calgary.
Then there is the first youth hostel in Canada. Scroll downpage to read more about that, or follow this link.
Moose mountain stands out to the east of the other Rocky Mountains west of Calgary Alberta. That makes it accessible. It is also just 7,995 ft. tall and you can drive to the trailhead just 1,565 ft. below the summit. The hike is 4.1 km long one-way and you can usually get in and out in about 5 hours. There is a fire lookout on the summit. Many people like to climb to the summit on the summer solstice when we get 16 hours and 33 minutes of daylight. It is usually windy and often cool if not cold. Watch this 3-minute video of an ascent to the summit on the summer solstice of 2012.
and a guide to help you plan your push for the peak.
The Bragg Creek - Gateway to Kananaskis website is now on Facebook.
Do you have a favourite trail for hiking or cycling, maybe you had a great meal with super service or maybe you got a speeding ticket in the 40 km/h zones around the hamlet. Share your news and views on the braggcreekca Facebook page. Even better, share your photos of some of the cool things you've seen in and around Bragg Creek.
This one seemed longer than others, but our winters are always too long. They only release their grip in June when we can plant annual flowers and put away the snow tires. Then the deer and moose appear with their newborn on display and the wildflowers blaze across the landscape. It rains a lot and with the addition of the snowmelt rivers and creeks fill to the point of flooding and traditionally the shopping centre parking lot turns into a small pond. This is life in the foothills of the Rockies, here captured on video. The moose calf is about 4 to 6 weeks old. The bird's wing is from a Clark's Nutcracker.
Bragg Creek recognized as "Historicaly Significant"
On January 17, 2012 national news organizations reported that Bragg Creek has been designated a "Historically Significant Place in Canada" due to it being the location of the first Youth Hostel in Canada. The hostel, opened in July 1933, was the work of Mary and Catherine Barclay who wanted "to enable youth to find wholesome companionship ... travelling inexpensively, and acquiring a knowledge of their neighbour's land and customs...”
There are 60 National Historic Sites in Alberta. Fort Calgary and Banff Springs Hotel are among them.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides are the ultimate Canadian winter activity
The foothills of Alberta are a great place to enjoy outdoor activities. They are relatively accessible; not far from Calgary and the terrain is a lot easier to navigate than the alpine region in the Rockies. Lay down a layer of snow and they are the perfect winter playground. Add some horses and you've got the ultimate western Canadian experience. Check out this short video of a horse-drawn sleigh ride on the Anchor D Ranch just west of Turner Valley.
Finding information about Kananaskis
Finding stuff on the government's web site is like shooting a moving target, so you should check this out now before they move it. Here is a page of all the publications about Kananaskis; maps, posters, brochures, CD-Roms, digital downloads and booklets. There is a lot of great info available.
Call the Elbow Valley Information Centre for info: 403-949-4261
Please contact this web site or call 403-949-4274. Want to join a commuter car group with over 300,000 km under its wheels? You drive one day a week and get to sleep the other four. It is that simple. Meet in the hamlet about 6:30, one person drives and covers the cost of the car and parking, while the others get to ride for free. Return about 4:30. Want to catch up on the local gossip? They've got it all.
Use the "What's on your mind? Status box on Facebook to carpool.
In 2003 I went to a workshop sponsored by Spray Lakes Sawmills of Cochrane. They announced their intention to conduct commercial logging in Kananaskis under the Forest Management Agreement they were awarded by the Alberta Government Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development in 2001. Since then I’ve tried to stop the logging, working with the Bragg Creek Environmental Coalition and many Bragg Creek and Calgary residents, in particular Alvise and Paola who helped run the Tag-A-Tree campaign. In that 2006 campaign we made 7,000 wooden “tags”, marked with our “Save Kananaskis – It’s worth it” message. People hung them on their property and around the area.
Over the years thousands of heartfelt appeals to Save Kananaskis have been delivered to the government through letters, brochures, posters, petitions, rallies, web sites, media campaigns, public meetings, exhibit booths at festivals and events. We tried everything we could think of, we had a lot of supporters and we were very successful getting the message out, building awareness and winning converts.
Right in the middle of that, Ted Morton, then Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, approved the Spray Lakes Sawmills, Detailed Forest Management Plan. The loggers moved into the Sibbald Area, near Barrier Lake and clearcut large tracts of forest claiming that they were practicing good forest management while controlling the pine beetle. Turns out the beetle had very limited impact. The scientists who were advising us said the bugs wouldn't kill more than 30% of the Kananaskis forest. It looks like it they won't kill more than three percent. SRD used unwarranted alarmist tactics and their power over the media to instill panic in people declaring a “State of Emergency” with respect to the bug. Under the onslaught of misinformation, even well-informed people accepted the supposed need to log Kananaskis. Shame on the government for using scare tactics to intimidate people. Shame on the government for not listening to its citizens.
Our Save Kananaskis campaign foundered when, in 2008, the provincial government won a very strong mandate to proceed with their assault on the environment.
Orange flagging tape on trees along the Crystal Line recreation trail in West Bragg Creek area of Kananaskis indicates they are about to fall to the loggers
Now, in 2010, the loggers have marked the forest along the Crystal Line trail in the West Bragg Creek Recreation Area and our highly valued natural area is about to be turned into a clearcut. Now that they can't use the pine beetle to justify their commercial logging operation, they claim the threat of forest fire makes logging in Kananaskis OK. It's not OK. It will have negative economic, social and environmental impacts on Bragg Creek and the thousands of people who recreate in the most popular recreation area in the province – the one located ½-an-hour from Calgary, a city of 1-million people. The worst of it is that those people depend on this watershed for their water supply. The scientists say logging has a negative impact on the quality and quantity of water. We should listen to them this time.
It's late October. Most of the leaves have fallen and it's slim pickings for the moose and deer. I noticed some movement through the patio door and the dog started barking frantically. There, a few feet from my window was a moose - on my deck - happily munching on the leaves of the mountain ash tree that grows through the deck.
Moose on the deck
Your guide to a full-of-fun destination in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Calgary and Banff. Drive the Cowboy Trail to Kananaskis and outdoor adventure. Explore the horseback, biking, and hiking trails. Enjoy a day in the country, unique shopping, fine dining and accommodation.
Information on facilities and attractions in this 4,000 square kilometre recreational playground. Explore the Elbow valley. You can access the trails, rivers, ponds and mountains along highway 66 and in West Bragg Creek. You'll find picnic areas interpretive trails and campsites.
Outdoor adventure awaits on the trails and recreation areas around us. Catch some culture in the Bragg Creek Centre. Share the fun at our annual events. Your guide to the trails, events and activities in Kananaskis.