It was a rather dreary drive leaving Calgary but by the time we got to the Lake Minnewanka parking lot we had a cloudless sky and bright sun. No worries about the snow deteriorating, it was -18C. The snow was very good for kick and glide, the hill climb warmed us up and we made the 6.5 km to the Cascade River bridge in a little over an hour:
Cascade River bridge
Although the trail beyond had not been trackset for a couple of weeks, the tracks were in great shape and we made good time to the warden cabin. While there we heard much twittering in the conifers and were able to determine there were a large number of white-winged crossbills flitting about. They were too quick to get a photo but the internet provides an example:
Male white-winged crossbill (courtesy of All About Birds)
The red on the males and yellow on the females really stood out. We had heard them on the way up and heard more on the way back. After lunch Damian did the bonus 2 km loop north towards Stoney Creek while the rest were happy to stick with the 26 km of the warden cabin out-and-back. The descent back to the Cascade Bridge was a fun, fast run. There was a bit of high level misty cloud but it remained sunny for our group photo:
Cascade trail photo op
The long hill down to the Minnewanka Road was somewhat slick but there was enough loose snow for some control. Nice view at the end:
Mount Inglismaldie from near the end
Temperature at the cars was -11C with a chilly breeze. It was sunny on the drive back until Dead Man's Flat, then it was back under the dreary overcast over the Prairie.
Thanks to the intrepid participants who enjoyed the sunny day and excellent snow: Ron C/S/P, Barbara, Damian, Margo, David, Clifton and Jane.