Grotto Canyon Trail: Canmore, Alberta.

On a recent trip to the Canadian Rockies I decided to visit the Grotto Canyon Trail, close to Canmore, Alberta. I have seen many photos across social media of this trail during Winter and I was excited to visit it.

Of course I looked up the trail online to find out more information and I found a lot of recommendations for the use of cleats or studded footwear due to the slippery ice, and I immediately said “…..Awk, I’m sure it will be grand”. This is a typical Irish response to most things, where we ignore perfectly good advice and just hope for the best!!

The first part of the trial is through a sparsely forested area and the terrain is pretty good but as soon as I got to the canyon and saw the frozen river, I immediately regretted my decision. The sun was shining and any ice not in the shade was starting to melt and was extremely slippery. I was able to walk most of the trail but struggled as I got towards the end where the waterfall is located. I was annoyed at myself to be able to get so far and then having to give up. I did not give up without a bit of a fight, I tried to walk further but it was a bit of a disaster and I had the bruised knees to prove it.

Where I stopped, I could see the frozen waterfall at the end of the trail and could even spot some ice climbers scaling it. I even got to witness some extremely comical falls that I wish I captured on my camera!!

The sights from within the canyon are amazing, especially on a beautiful sunny Winter day. I was lucky to spot some wildlife along the trail; there were lots of Squirrels and Chipmunks scurrying around on the ground and in the trees and I spotted my very first Bald Eagle as it swooped high above the canyon. When walking within the deep canyon walls, I could hear the echo of other hikers, the wildlife and even the falling of melting snow from the tall pines that lined the top of the canyon.

This spot is simply amazing during Winter and I would recommend anyone in the Alberta area to give it a try, just DON’T FORGET YOUR CLEATS!! i

Polar Vortex-ing

So, I have finally been introduced to the brutal Canadian Winter over the last few days. Most of North America has been suffering through some extremely cold weather over the last week, the weather system was named the Polar Vortex. Although Calgary was quite lucky and didn’t get the lowest temperatures across North America, it was still very cold!!

Let’s be honest, some of the photos that have been circling social media about the Polar Vortex have been both shocking and entertaining!!

With temperatures plummeting, most people were staying indoors, but some people braved the cold to take some incredible photos and videos. We were introduced to the “Frozen Pants Challenge”, some crazy frozen hair-do’s and a lot of people creating their own snow. I tried out the latter and headed out into -36°C with a flask of boiling water ready to recreate the many photos I seen online. It was a lot of fun, throwing a cup of boiling water into the air and watching it instantly freeze and turn into snow. I captured some cool photos and videos, but I started to get cold very quickly.

A few things that I have never experienced before 2019’s Polar Vortex;

  • Freezing nostrils (not pleasant at all)
  • Freezing eyelashes
  • My I-phone turned off at 60%
  • My camera started malfunctioning

Looking at photos of Lake Michigan and Niagara Falls during the big freeze were mesmorizing and beautiful but looking at them, I just see the impact of Climate Change. While North America was experiencing some of its coldest temperatures, Australia was in experiencing it’s hottest month on record. Tasmania is being ravished by wildfires and the smoke is spreading to New Zealand. To me, it is alarming how different the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are acting at one time. These extreme weather events are a clear indicator for a changing climate, and it is something that we all need to focus on and stop ignoring.

We can make a change and we must make a change.