So, we’re still experiencing a ridiculously warm February (except Friday – it was freezing) but we’re doing a better job of enjoying than I was last week. On Saturday we went for a skate and a walk in Bowness Park and I was surprised that there is enough ice. It was still warm enough later in the evening to bike from our house to a friend’s place across Nose Hill. We were still a little early – there was some serious snow that required walking – but being able to fit in a nearly 20 km evening ride in February felt pretty nice.
Today we finally managed to get ourselves out of the city and enjoy the warm weather in the mountains. We got an early start on our hiking season with an easy warm up on the Fullerton Loop Trail.
The trailhead is across from Allen Bill Pond in Elbow Valley and it less than an hour from our house. We arrived at the trailhead around 10:15 am and there were already several vehicles in the parking area (which is fairly small, but you can park across the highway and walk over). The trail leading from the parking lot was a sheet of ice, so we put our trail crampons on to start with. I would say that with the current conditions having some sort of micro-spike is essential for hiking this loop – we did see a few people walking without them but there were a lot of parts that would have been very unpleasant.
The first part of the trail (an access trail to the loop) is through the forest and then along the Elbow River for a little bit. We enjoyed the sunshine and crunched along the icy trails until we got to the junction of the access trail with the loop. We chose to hike the loop portion of the trail counter-clockwise which meant we traveled through the trees for a while (which was super icy) and then a drier southern slope. The trail is very easy to follow, and has signs at all the junctions. We passed a few other groups but it was relatively quiet for such a lovely morning.
The return section of the loop is along a ridge and was much drier (and ice free) than the rest of the trail. While the views are not spectacular, you do get to look out to the mountains and are rewarding for the effort level required to get there. I did realize that my cardio fitness is not where I’d like it be – Jon left me in the dust several times.
We finished the just under 7 km (4.5 mile) hike in about 2 hours including several photo stops, and a break to eat jelly beans. It was so nice to be outside – even if just for a few hours – and to spend some time my favourite guys. I’m definitely looking forward to more outdoor adventures if this warm spell continues!