Our objective was the Mt. Murray Viewpoint via Lower Chester Loop (blue ski trail) in the Smith-Dorrien. According to two weather forecasts, we had picked the sunny day of the week for photographs. So we left the Chester Lake parking lot in sun, marvelling at the huge amount of snow as we carefully navigated past the biffy. For obvious reasons, if going to the viewpoint, you want to snowshoe the loop clockwise. At the first junction most tracks went left towards Chester Lake. We went right and were happy to see snowshoe tracks were still followable after the last snowfall. In fact there was a trench. By the time we got to James Walker SS trail (yellow ski trail) junction, the sun was an ominous fuzzy orange circle and Mount Birdwood was fast disappearing in the gathering murk.Most snowshoers had turned right on the loop. We went left up James Walker, enduring two small snow dumps worth of trail breaking to the levelling in the cutblock. From the signpost it’s a continuous climb up orange ski trail to the viewpoint, which is sited off logging road in a glade. During this final climb the clouds had thickened even further and from the viewpoint there was nary a mountain to be seen — in any direction. It also started snowing. If anyone has pics of the view please contact us and Tony will give you his email address.
Plodding back down the long hill from the viewpoint to the junction with Smith-Dorrien SS trail near the highway seemed endless. I was longing for some skis with which to cut the powder — treacherous thoughts for a snowshoer. But lower blue was as delightful as always, with or without skis. According to the Kananaskis Country snow report, the snowfall continued all the next day and by evening the storm had dropped another 12 cm, bringing the total at Chester Lake parking lot to 180 cm.
Access: Chester Lake parking lot. Grade: Easy. Distance: 7. 2 km. Height gain: ~177 m (580 ft. )