Monochrome: Penstock Loop Snowshoe

Back in January, a friend and I headed out to do the Penstock Loop in Kananaskis, a roughly 5km loop that takes in the dam at the south end of Lower Kananaskis Lake, as well as a historical penstock and sluiceway along Kent Creek.

Just for this day, I thought it would be fun to see what I would get if I set my camera to black and white. Sometimes colour is a distraction – it’s lovely, but it can keep you from seeing the image in full detail, and detract from the drama of a view. It can also be a challenge to create art pieces in monochrome, as none of our media are entirely pure black, white or gray. Grays in particular often have colour tones to them, bluish gray or pinkish.

View from the Dam
View from the Dam, pencil on paper

After crossing the dam, we decided to do the trail counter-clockwise. The eastern side of the loop has a lot of little ups and downs to it, while the western section, after the penstock, is a fairly smooth and gradual downhill back to the dam. If you have the right kind of snowpants, it can also be lots of fun sliding down the side of the dam to catch that side of the loop.

So we snowshoed up and down through the forest, and one open meadow. As we finished crossing Smith-Dorrien road and headed up the other side, we had our first “Wow!” moment, as Mount Wintour and, further out, Mount Blane dominated the view.

Mount Blane
Mount Blane, pastel on paper

Then it was back into the trees and west to the Kent Creek sluiceway, where we stopped for lunch. This is an old wood and metal structure designed to guide water to the penstock, and then to the dam. It used to leak a lot and create all kinds of ice formations, but since it was repaired and the penstock sent underground, it only provides a neat place to stop for lunch, and makes for some interesting curves in the snow.

Kent Creek Sluiceway
Kent Creek Sluiceway, Inktense and white acrylic paint on paper

The return leg takes you along a closed access road, located partway up a slope and just at the top of the trees, with a wide open view of the Opal Range and Mount Wintour to the south. It’s a great area to dawdle, especially on a sunny day, and take lots of photos.

Opal Range
Opal Range, pastel on paper

We ended by crossing the dam again to return to the parking area, and spent some time looking for a good view into the sluiceway below the dam. There was some interesting ice buildup near the bottom of it, but unfortunately, none of the angles we tried really produced good photos. Maybe another time.

If you enjoyed the artwork, some of it is now available for sale on various products on Please follow the link to see what’s available:

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