The Paskapoo Slopes: As we, or rather I, nimble-footed down the narrow snowy trail bounded by leafless trees and spindly branches I expected to be surprised by a Fox, a Coyote, a Deer or an unlikely exotic animal. But there is no one except us…a natural setting to play peek-a-boo. We continued on the trail, following footprints, paw prints, bike prints, from Cougar Ridge, a residential neighbourhood in southwest Calgary bounded by the Slopes and the Ski runs of Canada Olympic Park, downwards towards the ledge for an omnidirectional view of the Bow River valley, the Ski runs of the Canada Olympic Park towards the east, steep ravines and gullies, streams and springs camouflaged by dense clusters of aspen and balsam poplar, dogwood and riverine shrubs.
Looking back and up I envy the residents of Cougar Ridge houses for their 24/7 scenic lookouts. I am told that during Fall and Summer months the Slopes turn into a verdant naturescape.
Google information: The Paskapoo Formation, a stratigraphic unit of Middle to Late Paleocene age, nearly 8500 years old is said to be “one of the oldest archaeological sites in the City of Calgary”. (Calgary: Secrets of the City by James Martin). For the First Nation the forested benches carved by a Glacial Lake and the steep walls of ravines (nearly 155 metres above the edge of the Paskapoo Escarpment and the Coach Hill Uplands), provided ideal hunting grounds. Archaeological finds of buffalo kills and processing sites, sweat pits, camps, fireplaces, beads, projectile points, bones etc. bear similarity to the finds at Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump.Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump…..It’s a wonderful world
We crossed few hikers and dog walkers as we followed the trail towards Lemon Orchard and the frozen Ponds with their mysterious abandoned cars. There are two, supposedly 1940s models, peeping from under their snowy duvets.
The Paskapoo was probably a graveyard for abandoned cars, there are more at different locations, that are popular touristy baits.
We are interested in the Buddhist Stupa and take a left turn on the snow-camouflaged trail, crossing rickety plank bridges over semi frozen streams. It is a steep climb and in my vertiginous-ness I visualise chimeric apparitions, of sinister kinds, melding into the surroundings. A few slips and steps later the golden Spire of the Stupa and the fluttering, slightly splayed prayer flags make it real.
Barbed wires, beaten down in some places, surround the Stupa as it could be private property. A welcoming bench is a magnet for the seekers. A few minutes of quietude, in a way the Stupa adds to the ancient ambiance of the Slopes, and a much needed breather before the steep return climb.
One can do either way from 85th St SW, come down from the steep end for the Stupa and take the circuitous route back. We did the other way round and now had to walk up. It is a labour of love but I managed, even though finding myself on all fours at one particular turn.
Another attraction is the Big Rock on the Ridge Run Trail. It is similar to the Big Rock found in Okotoks that is said to have been ice dragged down from the Rockies to its present location. We left this piece of attraction for the next hike.
Paskapoo Slopes is more than a wintery peek-a-boo playfield. It is an all season outdoor freebie of trails… hiking, mountain biking, ski runs , dog runs….