With the promise of the first sunny day for some time we decided to snowshoe to Warspite Lake yesterday. Arriving at the PLPP end of the Smith-Dorrien highway there was a “road closed” barrier. We knew from following KCPublicSafety on Twitter that the road was closed at the Canmore end for avalanche control. As we were mulling whether to ignore the sign and carry on up the road, another vehicle arrived. The skiers, who were also heading to the Black Prince day-use area, had driven to the info centre and been told it was OK to drive the road. A few metres farther along the road was another sign that indicated that the road was closed at Spray Lake Dam. Seems like it would be less confusing to place the barrier by the notice that indicated where the road was closed!
It was a gorgeous day. It was still cool enough that the snow was not balling up under our snowshoes, but warm enough that we had to strip off our outer layers a short distance along the steady climb up the old logging road. After about kilometre, the trail heads down right through trees toward the lake. Shortly before the lake, ski tracks to the right branch off toward the open-treed ski slopes. We followed the left-hand track to the lake. It was sunny and warm with an occasional slight breeze. Above, high westerly winds were blowing plumes of snow off the crags above in a spectacular display. We snowshoed diagonally across the lake, through some trees to the large open meadow beyond and headed up sunny slopes to the right, keeping near the edge of the trees, to the foot of a steeper, treed gully. Here we lunched, basking in the sun and watching the skiers we had met earlier cranking turns on the steep, shadowed north-facing slope opposite.
Warspite Lake is a great short snowshoe trip (just over 4 km return to the lake) in warm spring conditions or for a quick in and out trip on a short, cold day in December or January. There is no avalanche danger if you don’t venture beyond the lake.
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