Saturday, December 3, 2016

Watridge Lake December 3 2016

Christmas Gifts
pretty packages
lumps of coal

When I was a little girl Christmas was all about receiving pretty packages.  Today, it's still all about the pretty packages but those packages look very different.  Instead of dolls & games back then, my favourite Christmas packages now come filled with family & friends plus love & laughter.  Heck, I can now even chuckle when I am handed a lump of coal.  For very personal reasons I feel compelled to make an extra effort to be very thankful for who and what I have in my life this holiday season.  I feel the need to acknowledge more than ever that I am blessed and to be appreciative of even the littlest of things that could bring a smile. 

Our plan for today was to have our mountain kind of Christmas celebration at the Trail Centre Cabin in Banff National Park.  The pretty packages and lumps of coal that came our way added alterations to our plan and we held our festive event at the backside of Watridge Lake.  I like pretty Christmas packages that look like this!
We began our day early heading west from the city.  It was a pretty drive and easy too.  Traffic was very minimal along the Smith Dorrien and we realize now what a blessing that was, otherwise we would not have been afforded this sighting of a lynx on the side of the road.  We watched it for a bit then realized it was watching too but it was watching two more lynx up in the bushes.  This is only the second time in my life time that I have seen a lynx up close out in the wild.  I know this is such a rare sight to experience.
We finally arrived at the trail head parking lot.  We were the first to arrive, we were even there before the plow.  The clouds lifted, the snow stopped and the views were amazing.  There was no wind and the temperature was a perfect -7 Celsius.
view as we snowshoed along
The area looked different with less snow than when we have snowshoed here in the past.  We went about our merry way and decided to check to make sure we were on the straightforward trail and not one of the ski trails off to the sides.  We landed at a location I had no idea even existed, the Ruedi Setz Memorial Biathlon Range.  I knew that sport took place in the general area but I did not realize to what extent.  While the scenery was very pretty here, we now realized after going in a circle or two, that we had a lump of coal gifted us.    
We spent a considerable amount of time working our way through the trail system and through the bushes.  We were somewhat confused on where we were and on our surroundings.  Our devices assisted us to a certain extent in the trees but at times they were not true to us.  My sense was that our device was pointing us in the wrong direction.  We took time to untwist by checking out and talking about our surroundings and trying to figure out what the device was showing us.  Once we sorted that out we headed where we sensed we should head.  After close to two hours of at times intense bushwhacking and route finding, we landed back out where we should have been more than an hour prior.  We came away with pride that was a tad bit bruised plus a few scrapes and scratches.  Once back on track. we were able to take that lump of coal in stride and chatted about it.  I feel what we experienced is a bit of an embarrassing story to share.  On the other hand I feel it is important to share.  While we may not be the most experienced mountaineers, we do have loads of experience with being out & about.  While route finding devices can be beneficial, a sense of direction plays a part too.  We did know how to execute what needed to be done to rectify the situation we found ourselves in.

This is what being back on track looked like! 
We now knew our plan for the day needed alterations not only because much time had passed but also because the weather conditions changed rapidly.  What was coming our way now was not forecasted to until the evening.  Never mind that, we were prepared for anything anyways, as we always are.  We opted to be festive at Watridge Lake.  We snowshoed in sweet powder to the  side so we would have a view.  Ah, how I love open water and reflections at this time of year.  How pretty is that!
Being thrown another lump of coal of wind and cold and snow
we quickly decorated our tree and captured out shots.

our decorations 

We cut short out celebration time in favour of dining and dashing.  
We were feeling tired from the work earlier in our day but still felt we had some play time within us.  
sweet sugar snow
 friends, love & laughter, pretty packages
We made quick business of gearing down and getting on our way once we arrived back at the vehicle.   Lots of snow had come down and we wanted off the Watridge Logging Road and off the Smith Dorrien before dark.  We had success with that.  In fact looking back at our day, we acknowledged once again, we are experts at saving the day and that our snowshoe trek was a success too.  

Once back on the main highway we had a pretty drive home.    
Pretty packages always make for enjoyable times in our mountain playground but its how you deal with the lumps of coal you receive that truly show what you are made of.  We were presented with so much to be thankful for today!  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fox Lake November 26 2016

I have been longing to frolic and kick up snow in a winter wonderland!  For the past couple of weeks, I watched the weather much closer than I normally do, wishing and hoping and praying for snowfall accumulations.  While that sweet white gold has been scarce in some locations, in others it was looking quite plentiful.  That plentiful location that we rallied together to get to would be Fox Lake. 

We arrived at the Elk Pass parking lot pleasantly surprised to see an abundance of snow, so much so that we donned our snowshoes right from the start.  The further up and further in we went, the levels of white gold were deeper and sweeter.  There were no X-C Ski tracks, no skiers, just us.
peeking through the trees to the Continental Divide
We arrived at the border between Alberta and British Columbia.  Along the way we experienced some serious trail breaking and we shared that duty amongst us.  We still had 0.7 kms to go but we already knew at this point that Fox Lake would be divine.
The signs showed us the way.
view on our way to Fox Lake
We arrived at Fox Lake and found a lovely spot to settle down to dine.  
The sun shone on us and the wind was not worth mentioning.  

After fueling up, it was play time.  I warned everyone that today would be all about embracing the snow.  A few are knowledgeable with what that means, others found out for the first time and they took hold and joined right in like experts.
embracing the snow
After spending some of our energy, we used the rest to begin our snowshoe trek back the way we came.  We happily marched along in the track we already made.  Fox Lake holds a special place in my heart.  I stayed back a few minutes on my own to have a moment on my own.
I took one last look back.
I did not see the hug in the corner when I took the photo.
I saw it when I downloaded my photos at home and it melted my heart.
Yes, I know you were there with me Ian, I felt your embrace! 
working our way back through a meadow 
Back at the intersection by Patterson, a few of us snowshoed up the hill to have a look.  There was another meadow that looked inviting but we needed to return to the others and get on with our day.   
The only thing ahead of us now was making our way back to the parking lot.  We kept to the side now as we saw ski tracks and thought there could be others coming or going somewhere along the way.  As it turned out, we saw only three skiers at the very end of our.
I was thrilled with how our first snowshoe trek of the season turned out.  
Sharing a day with friends who are on the same page as me is wonderful.
Thank you for today!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Volcano Ridge November 19 2016

poetry in a picture

put blue in the sky
how appealing to our eye
offer rolling hills of green
looks lovely in between
a snow covered mountain peak
what a photographer will seek
add clouds fluffy and white
you give us pure delight
While I am itching to strap my snowshoes on and get lost in a winter-wonderland, I did not want to pass up the opportunity to explore a front range where access will be denied in less than two weeks.  We had a big day planned covering loads of terrain in the Volcano Ridge area so it was good to have the early start from the Gorge Creek Parking Lot.  
The air was cold & crisp much more so than I was expecting but that did not matter, I was prepared for everything.  The trail was flattish for quite some time with a creek crossing or two.  Much to our delight they were easily crossable without changing into creek-crossing footwear.  
We hiked on and on and on, caught up in conversation.  When we realized we missed our turn off, we did a quick about face and darted back.  This ooops added another couple of kilometers to our intended distance.  We found the trail we needed to ascend.   Finally, there were the views we were expecting.   
 cairn on south Volcano Ridge
It was a tad bit slippery descending the south Ridge, we all made it down safe & sound.  We took a few minutes to admire the view from the pass.  Bluerock Mountain stands out for most of the day while in this area.
looking up at what we came down
Time was ticking and we still were not at the North Summit.  The views were amazing, the sun felt warm, there was no wind, so the consensus was to dine with this view in front of us.  Our destination though, was behind us and it would be another climb so refueling was a necessity.
view as we ascend again
 my summit shot on the North Summit of Volcano Ridge
 me and my friends
a summit is always a happy place to be
Because time was ticking by, and we were a bit behind, our visit on the summit was not long.  We secured our shots, devoured a quick snack (including rum balls thank you very much Short Stop), then retreated off the summit in the same direction we came up.

view of the green rolling hills
We reached the bottom and checked the time.  
Shadows were becoming longer. 
We knew we needed to motor to get back to the parking lot in daylight.  
looking back over & up to where we were at the North Summit of Volcano Ridge
We finally finished the long, steep at times, descent through the forest.  
We popped out into this meadow and admired the view before continuing on with our motoring.  
The last few kilometers were tough, but hey, we're tough.  The trail was gradual up hill for most of the way.  We kept our heads down, dug deep and just got it done. I had one last look back as the clouds took on a pink hue then it was all business with getting back to the cars.
We arrived back with just enough time to gear down and get the drive on the rough winding narrow snowy portion of the road over with before it was full on darkness.  Our distance was longer than expected as was our meters of elevation gain.  Yet, every step over the amount of expected is worth it when you are sharing these steps with fun friends.