Saturday, June 30, 2018

WESTIVA X... two weeks to go

Fourteen days from now Festivas and other econoboxes will be making their way to Wedge Pond in Alberta's Kananaskis Country. Why, you may ask? Well let me tell you... Westiva X is the reason.

And if you're heading to the venue from Calgary may I suggest a scenic alternative to the Trans Canada Highway? It takes a little longer but its well worth it. Bow Valley Trail (or highway 1A) begins at the western edge of the City of Calgary as the extension of Crowchild Trail. This first stretch is four lane divided highway until you reach the top of the hill above Cochrane AB where it drops to one lane going down the hill. 

Looking westward to the Rocky Mountains over Cochrane AB

Stay on Bow Valley Trail all the way through Cochrane and across Highway 22 (about 15 minutes from Calgary city limits). It's after this that the drive gets really nice as is basically follows the Bow River upstream.

Bow Valley Trail heading west from Cochrane. Photo by Banff and Beyond. Link in properties

As you continue westward the road changes to a two lane ribbon heading towards the Rocky Mountains. About 18 km (11 mi) from the Highway 22 intersection Ghost Lake will appear on your left. This is a reservoir behind a power generating dam that is usually teeming with watercraft, mostly sailboats.
Ghost Lake. Photo from Cottage Club Blog. Link in properties
Enjoy the drive westward for another 32 km (20 mi) until you reach the turnoff for Highway 1X. At 4.5 km (2.8 mi) in length, it is one of Alberta's shortest provincial highways Make the turn for the short run southward to the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway 1. Here you'll head back east for about 4 km (2½ mi) to Highway 40. Turn south and you're only 30 km (20 mi) from Wedge Pond! 

This route takes about an hour and twenty minutes from Calgary's western city limits whereas the more direct route via the Trans-Canada Highway takes only an hour. If you have the time and the inclination the extra twenty minutes is well worth it.

See you at Westiva X!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

WESTIVA X... Three weeks and counting

For those of you traveling to Westiva from the south I would like to share one of my favorite local drives. I wrote about some of this route a few years ago but it bears repeating.

It starts at the intersection of Alberta Highways 3 & 22 reached from the west through Fernie and the the Crowsnest Pass and from the east through Fort MacLeod and past Pincher Creek. From there the route takes you north along the Cowboy Trail to Longview, west to Highwood House and then north again over the Highwood Pass to Wedge Pond.

The first leg up to Longview takes you over 110km of rolling, meandering two lane blacktop through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. At times it's not hard to imagine herds of buffalo roaming the fertile valleys. Here's some of the points of interest along the way:
  • km 24/mile15- you'll cross the Oldman River
  • km 44/mile 27-  one of the highest spots on the Cowboy Trail at approximately 1500m/4900ft, over 300m/1100ft higher than our start  point.
  • km 71/mile 44 - you'll start to pass Chain Lakes Provincial Park on your left. There's a spot here for a picnic or a bathroom break if the need arises.

Northbound on Highway 22. From Surrealplaces on Flikr; link in properties

Longview is the starting point for the second leg of this route. Head west from Longview on Highway 541. You'll reach Highwood House after a scenic 44km/28mile westward drive through rolling farmland. At this point you'll turn north again onto Highway 40 to head over the Highwood Pass which at 2206m (7238ft) is the highest paved pass in Canada. This stretch of highway is closed from December to mid June as it is a major wildlife corridor.

Highwood Pass looking south from the air (source wikipedia)
If you look closely at the photo above you can see the summit parking lot in the bottom right corner.

From the ground (source wikipedia)

The summit of the pass is 38km/24 miles from Highwood House and it's another 38km/24 miles to the Wedge Pond day use area, the starting venue for Westiva. Whether you're joining us for Westiva or not, I highly recommend this route for the twisty, rolling roads and the breathtaking scenery.

Monday, June 18, 2018

WESTIVA X... the countdown begins!

With less than four weeks to go we are getting excited as this year's event is shaping up to be another great one. We have confirmed attendees from Idaho, Washington State, Alberta and Saskatchewan. There is also a possibility of attendees from Arizona and North Carolina. A number of our "regulars" will be there too along with a few first timers.

Westiva 2017 attendees. Photo credit: Ben Rogers

If you have a Festiva, an Aspire, or one of many of the econoboxes from the late '80's and early '90's come and join us. If you don't and are wondering what all the fuss is about please stop by to have a look and ask your questions.

Watch this space for weekly updates!