photo credit: Tanya Taggart-Hodge

Looking back at our epic route along Kananaskis Ridge

Here we are a week into the 2014 field season, and we’ve already had some great times!  The season began with a two-day road trip from Victoria, with 5 people and an impressive amount of gear jam packed into the truck.  As inevitably happens when people are within inches of each other for hours on end, we all got to know each other a little better (through extensive discussions on important topics such as ice cream, love, and the existential relativism of traffic cones).  Our odyssey ended with a pizza party at the home of Rick Arthur, our main SRD contact.  Turns out that Rick’s pizza oven (wood, fired, and approximately the size of a garden shed) is capable of cooking a pizza in under a minute, so approximately a dozen pizzas were made–a gastronomical challenge for us all!

After our SRD orientation in Calgary the next day, we jumped immediately into starting our first stations.  We began with a few low-elevation stations nearby with the full team (Eric, Mary, Rick, Tanya, Vladka, Kristen and Nicole) all together to start getting a feel for the repeat photography process.  Although these stations were easy to get to–including one we were actually able to shoot from a balcony (image), we really got a sense of the challenges that a century of tree growth can bring.

Photo credit:  Rick Arthur

A balcony with a pretty good view of our Barrier Visitor Center station!

After a few days of trying to line up our images through gaps in trees, we were all looking forward to tackling a higher station, and the next day brought just that for the whole crew after a helicopter drop onto Kannanaskis ridge (image).  Nicole, Vladka and Rick had a similar experience (including some crazy weather conditions and a 600m vertical descent down a scree slope) at Mt Burns the next day.

Photo credit:  Rick Arthur

Clouds to one side of the ridge and clear sky to the other on Mt. Burns

Although aligning the images was definitely a lot easier in the absence of any vegetation taller than a few inches, high elevation stations bring their own psychological challenges.  This is the first serious alpine work that some of our crew has done, so it’s definitely a learning curve in terms of our confidence levels.  However, we’re all starting to feel pretty capable of tacking stations on our own, which is good because Eric leaves in a few days and Mary a week after that.

We’re heading into Calgary on Friday for a pancake breakfast at the SRD office, where we’ll enjoy said pancakes and give a bit of a presentation about the work that we’re doing, followed by an afternoon at the Stampede.  I think we’re all looking forward to finally having an afternoon off (we’ve barely stopped to breathe since arriving), and rectify any packing omissions that have come to light now that we’re actually out in the field all the time.  We’re also looking forward to more amazing mountains, hikes, helicopter rides, and to a whole season of the best job ever!