Ptarmigan Cirque & Mount Rae

Solo hiking adventure starting  at the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis – July 15, 2017.  Mount Rae is the highest visible peak from Calgary and the 4th highest in Kananaskis at 3218m. 

From the parking area at the Highwood Pass (the highest paved surface in Canada at 2206m the trail heads up a number of switchbacks through the forest until you pop out of the treeline into the Ptarmigan Cirque.  This is a beautiful area full of waterfalls, streams, and fields of wildflowers.

Heading through the cirque the real trail heads back up an endless scree field toward Mount Rae.

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Grotto Mountain

Solo hiking adventure up Grotto Mountain – Canmore – July 9. 2706m, 1425m vertical ascent over 5.7km. Hate when a good day turns bad from my own stupidity. This was a  serious scramble up a very steep trail, but I was feeling great at the top. Had a nice lunch, took some pictures, headed down. Made it 3/4 of the way down when I realized my camera was safe and secure back up at the summit… Hadn’t seen a single other person the whole day so I knew nobody else was going to go bring it down. Back up to the top. Now I hurt. On the plus side, lots of animals.

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West Highland Way – Day Seven

Kinlochleven to fort william – 24km

A long climb out of Kinlochleven in the rain led to a long beautiful valley where the wind was howling and the rain was coming down sideways.  Many parts of the trail were either washed out or had streams running down the middle of the trail.

Eventually the rain let up and the sun came out as the trail led through a number of logging camps (yes, Scotland does seem to be trying to get rid of the few trees they have left).  This section was a bit grim and messy with muddy sections left from the logging machinery.  Eventually the trail made it past the logging and the first views of Ben Nevis were seen.  Unfortunately the entire top of the mountain was covered in cloud.

Once down at the bottom of the trail in Glen Nevis the rest of the way to Fort William was along a paved road which was really tough on the feet after being on soft trails for the past few days.  There are now two ends to the West Highland Way, one at the entrance to Fort William, and the new one which is conveniently placed in the middle of town through a cobble stone walk past all the tourist shops, go figure.

Dinner was a multiple course affair at the Lime Tree Inn.  This was it for the West Highland Way and the next day I jumped on the train back to Glasgow and then transferred to a train to Edinburgh.

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West Highland Way – Day Six

Kings house to Kinlochleven – 14km

After taking taxis back to Kings House the trail heads through Glencoe toward the Devil’s Staircase.  Rain and wind made this section a little bit unpleasant but the views more than made up for it.  It was at this point that one of the runners of the West Highland Way race passed the group.  I think that it must have been the eventual winner who smashed the record in finishing with a total time of 13 hours 41 min.  What a staggering thing to think, that what took me seven days was done in just under 14 hours.

From the top of the Devil’s Staircase the trail very slowly descends through valleys with amazing views towards Kinlochleven.  Lunch was spent huddling against the side of a hill  while the rain came down and the wind blew.  Once down in Kinlochleven (which has a brewery in the middle of town as well as an indoor ice climbing wall) lodgings and dinner were at the MacDonald Hotel.

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West Highland Way – Day Five

Tyndrum to Kings house – 32km

Heading out of Tydrum the trail climbs up until you reach the top of a pass and the views start really opening up.  Passing over the Bridge of Orchy you head up through a pine forest until it opens up again and you can see down to Loch Tulla and the Iveroran Hotel.  Stopping at the hotel for lunch, tea and lemon cakes was a great way to break up a very long day.

After lunch the trail heads up and into Rannoch Moor, one of the most beautiful wide open landscapes I’ve ever seen.  Every direction you looked had vista’s that were simply jaw dropping.  At the other side of Rannoch Moor the trail makes it’s way to Glencoe and Kings House.

Kings House is currently being renovated so from here taxi’s were taken to the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe.  

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West Highland Way – Day Four

Inverarnen to tyndrum – 19km

Starting out from Beinglas Farm the trail heads up through the forest and valleys of Glen Falloch.  Most of the day is spent on a simple track in mixed weather.  Lunch is spent on the trail with a quick stop before the midges descended and were annoying.

Finally in the afternoon the landscape started to open up into the Highlands with some better vistas of the landscape to come in the next few days.  Eventually arrived at Tyndrum and the nights lodging at the Tyndrum Inn.

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West Highland Way – Day Three

Rowardennan to inverarnen – 23km

Starting out this morning there was a slight drizzle but it wasn’t really wet enough to bother with rain gear for most of the day apart from a couple of stronger showers.  From Rowardennan the trail continued along the shore of Loch Lomond in landscape that felt very much like hiking on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  Passing countless streams and waterfalls lunch was out of the rain at a the Inversnaid Hotel.

After lunch the trail continues along a  trail made interesting by many  roots and rocks to scramble over.  Eventually leaving Loch Lomond behind the trail becomes easier until reaching the end of the day at Beinglas Farm near Inverarnen.

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West Highland Way – Day Two

Drymen to Rowardennan – 22km

Leaving Drymen the walk heads up through the Garadhban Forest until the first views of Loch Lomond appear.  From here it was a beautiful walk through gently rolling hills to the bottom of Conic Hill.  From the top of Conic Hill Loch Lomond spreads out as far as the eye can see.  Heading down Conic Hill lunch is in a park on the shore of Loch Lomond in Balmaha.

After lunch the trail continues along the shore of Loch Lomond in and out of the trees.  Great day walking in bright sunshine.  Eventually the trail makes it’s way to Rowardennan and the stop for the night is at the Rowardennan Hotel.

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West Highland Way – Day One

Milngavie to Drymen – 19km

Started the day by meeting up with the group at the Glasgow Queen Street railway station and taking  a short train ride to Milngavie just north of Glasgow. Dropped my luggage off with the porter company who would be taking the bags to the next stop and started walking from the center of town.

Very pleasant walk in the sunshine through farm and pasture land.  Stopped for lunch at the Beech Tree Inn.  Further walking through the afternoon led to Drymen and the Hawthornes B&B.  Dinner was a four-course meal at the nearby Winnock Hotel.

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Nihahi Ridge

Solo hiking adventure up Nihahi Ridge – June 4.  Always liked this hike and it was a great way to break in my new hiking shoes.  Starts a bit boring along a dirt road near the Little Elbow Campground but quickly gets interesting when you take the trail up towards the ridge.  Once you break out of the tree line it is a very easy scramble to get up to the top of the ridge.  You can run the ridge quite a few kilometers but the thunder clouds were rolling in so I turned around and came back down.

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VanStan Wedding

Al Stanford and Karey Stanford wedding at a farm south of Calgary.  I brought two cameras along to photograph the wedding.  First my 1967 Canon Canonet QL17 GIII with Ilford HP5 35mm film and second my Lubitel 166+ Medium Format Twin Lens Reflex with Ilford HP5 120mm film.  This gave me 36 exposures to use for the entire wedding.  Of course I wasted a bunch taking a selfie and some landscapes but what are you going to do?

Congratulations to you both!

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Terragen Image Gallery

Terragen 2 Gallery - Ryan Archer

Terragen is a powerful tool for rendering and animating realistic natural environments created by Planetside Software. I initially started using Terragen in 2000 as a tool to create simple landscapes. Over the past 12 years I have expanded my knowledge and experience with Terragen and then the greatly enhanced Terragen 2 to create some truly remarkable images. Terragen 2 is powerful enough to render both full scale planets as well as the smallest scale sand particles on a beach. Many of my works can be found in the official Terragen 2 Planetside Software gallery as well as in 3D magazine edition 113.