Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Packers Peak & Skoki Lakes August 8, 2018

I always know I will be rewarded with a jewel of a day any time I venture into the Skoki area of Banff National Park near Lake Louise.  I was long overdue to be bedazzled by the jewels but only now the time was right.  I went to work to make today happen and all aspects necessary and hoped for fell into place.  Our planned route was to summit Packers Peak, next to descend down to Zigadenus and Myosotis Lakes, then return the way we came. 
The drive west was uneventful as one always hopes for and then we scored a good parking spot, I thought we might considering it is not the weekend.  The air was crisp and clear where we were which was not the case for the drive out.  We began the walk up the road.  There was more vehicle traffic than hikers.  I knew workers sometimes pick people up and drive them up to the end of the road and I have witnessed that, but we were never fortunate enough to experience that until today.  Thank you for a great kick start to our hike.  

The views begin.
We stopped off at the Halfway Hut for a snack.  It was nice to see new benches inside the Hut.  It was early and it was warm.  I went down to short sleeves already and then smeared on the sunscreen.  I like the early morning shadows on the pathway.
We arrived at Ptarmigan Lake to see two kayakers just heading off.  That was a first to see for up here.  They were inflatable kayaks.  A little while later they were no where in sight and we wondered where they went, or even if they portaged over to Hidden Lake.  We never did see them again.
We eyed the obvious cairn and trail up to Packers Pass.  From the Pass you can see down to Zigadenus Lake.  I remembered seeing that lake before and was pretty sure of its color.  I wanted to see if my shorts did match the color of the lake.  It sure looks like it here!
The hike up to Packers Peak summit from the Pass was a short 20 minutes with stops to check the sights.  We arrived at the top and spent many many minutes capturing the proof we were there before sitting for another snack.   This is our summit shot with Fossil Mountain behind us.
along with group photos, we captured solo shots too
From a certain vantage point we could see down to both Zigadenus and Myosotis Lakes.
 (also known as the Skoki Lakes but I like the exotic bejewelled names) 
This Skoki Region is the land of lakes.  Here is Baker Lake where we wondered if the kayakers portaged too.  There is a back country campground down there.  It was at this time when these unusual clouds began to develop.  We were fortunate so far in that the wildfire smoke was off in the distance and not smothering us.
That's Ptarmigan Lake in the middle with Redoubt Lake up above it below Redoubt Mountain.  You can see Mount Temple to the right of Redoubt Mountain.  That area looked erie surrounded in smoky conditions.  We wondered if people were up on Temple and what it might be like there today.
We descended off Packers Peak aiming towards Zigadenus and to where we could intersect the true trail.  It's color was incredible!  Dare I say it looked like a jewel!  I was excited to be at its edge.
another snack break
We made it!  This jewel bedazzled me!  We could see the source of the water, that glacier to the left forming the waterfall in the middle, all in front of the Wall of Jericho.  Sometimes these lakes look this color from high up but when you get down to them they look different, not Zigadenus, it stayed true to its color.
how we reacted to being bedazzled
This was our first close up view of Myosotis Lake, another jewel in the rough.   
We scampered down a slippery slope to the trail that would take us right to the lake.  This jewel was just as incredible.  Between the color of the rocks and of the moss and of the lake and of the mountains, this made for a photographers delight.  We found this lake easier to photograph close up than it was to shoot Zigadenus.
Here I am "on" and "in" Myosotis Lake
such sweet golden seconds in time
We were still full of bedazzlement!  
We got lost in time.  We made a conscious effort to not bother knowing the time.  It was a slow ascend back up to Packers Pass.  By now it was hot oh so hot yet thankfully still not smoky over top of us.  On our way in many hours ago, we eyed the ledges and ridges above to our left of Boulder Pass.  We chatted about maybe checking out what was on top.  As if we did not have enough elevation gain completed already, we went for more, but it was easy.  It was almost like a stair case that lead us to the top.   Here you can see the greenish Packers Peak with Fossil Mountain behind it, and with Baker Lake at the bottom right.  That knobby dark thing off in the distant middle is called Tilted Mountain.
Here we are on the edge of a slab up on the ledgy ridge, yes a ledgy ridge.
We made our way back down to the trail and followed the shore of Ptarmigan Lake.  
One last fuel break was necessary to get us through the next couple of hours.  This is where we opted to take that.  We both got quiet for a bit here.  I was pretty sure Short Stop was thinking the same as me "I don't want to leave!"
leaving the jewels behind as the evening light settles on Skoki
Throughout our day we had nice conversations with backpackers who where obviously in awe of the beauty surrounding them.  One fellow and his dog from South Dakota camping near Skoki Lodge, two gentlemen from Ontario who were spending three nights at Skoki Lodge, a solist backpacker from San Francisco who was doing a portion of the Great Divide and just completed 70 kms since yesterday afternoon when he left Banff.  We met a few other couples who were camping for a few nights.  How lucky they all were and it seemed like they knew it!

Well, we carried on with our evening and hiked out to the dirt road and that was all we had left, just short of 4kms down the road to the car.  There was no vehicle traffic at this time of day.  There were no other hikers either at this time of day on this portion of the trail.  We chatted and chatted and checked over our shoulders making sure of no on coming surprises of any kind.  Then, Short Stop says very quietly and very calmly "a bear", I said "where" not realizing as I said it I was starring right at the most beautiful perfect grizzly bear head sticking up out of the bushes.  In the next split second I see a baby bear in the tree right beside the Mom.  We stop going forward and now begin to retrace our steps back up the dirt road, our bear spray now in hand and ready to fire, watching her and then listening.  We discussed a plan and then after a few moments begin to move forward slowly, talking calmly, bear spray in hand and ready to fire.  The air horn was out of air, so I blew my whistle to make a noise with hopes they would scattered away.  We see nothing, we hear nothing, we keep to the left as we move forward towards a turn off to the right which we need to pass on by and to where we think they may have aimed towards through the trees.  We got to the open intersection and sure enough there was Mom in full on view staring at us and standing like she was ready to rumble if need be.  Her baby was right beside her looking like it was standing and peeking out over the bushes at us.  We walked slowly, talking calming the whole time, looking back to make sure they stayed there and then we were far enough along that we were out of their sight.  Yet, still, we kept looking back.  In a matter of a few minutes we were back at the parking lot.  Safe!  Whew!

We shed our packs and boots then grabbed the partially thawed bottles of water to quench our thirst.  It did not take long to get on the road and begin our trip home.  In a matter of maybe two minutes of driving, what do we see, a black bear on the side of the road.  Three bears in total today so close together in time and to the parking lot, what a way to be bedazzled at days end!

I feel rich with all the priceless jewel memories we made today!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Nelson July 31 - August 3, 2018

It was time to move on down the road.  Before parting ways with Revelstoke I strolled out the front door of my suite down to the path by the Kicking Horse River and along it for a short distance.   The smoke sparsely hung about just enough to dull the hues on the horizon.  I wonder if future summers will be different here.  It seems our summers have been smoke filled from wildfires in British Columbia or from the north western United States fires. 
It's one day at a time right now and today I don't need to decide where to go from the many options, I am heading south to catch the Galena Bay Ferry that will take me to the other side of Upper Arrow Lake where I will then aim for Nelson.
on the ferry looking back 
but now it's time to look forward
I arrived just north beyond Nelson a bit, still too early to check into my home away from home for three nights, so drove a few kilometers past to Kootenay Creek Provincial Park. Aah I think I found paradise for this scorching hot day.  I set up at a picnic table under the shade from the trees, yet with a wide open view to Kootenay Lake and beyond.
I had a couple of hours to pass so just almost past out.  

When it was time, I left this paradise, drove the few minutes to check in then unpack and unwind.  I had initial intentions before leaving for this road trip to hike and kayak in the Nelson area.  Yet, when I arrived and the hours passed into the evening, which was next day planning session time, I wavered about the hiking.   Today measured at 37C with a humidex of 42C.  Tomorrow's forecast was to be similar.

The next day came and I headed back to that paradise spot and claimed it for the day.  I had intentions of renting a kayak down the beach and going for a paddle but that never did materialize.  I lazed about, went for a swim every hour, read, napped, snacked, was entertained by the many others who had more energy than me.
The sun beat down and I retreated to the shade.  
The above mentioned activity became my daily routine. At times I felt guilty and combated through some self talk.  I am so used to filling every second, keeping busy and on the go and active.  My life can be different now, it doesn't have to be that past way anymore.  It can be but it does not have to be.  That's what I told myself.  After the argument, I was able to let it go and just be here, just be, just be in the moment doing absolutely nothing.

Then the rays shone down on me and I knew I would be O.K.!
Each morning after coffee and before breakfast and before heading to that paradise place of Kootenay Creek Provincial Park, I drove the few minutes into Nelson to stroll along the pathway by the waterfront.  The early morning water was calm.  The smoke cast soft shades.  Thankfully I could not smell the smoke and it did not bother me.
these early morning strolls were a good time to reflect on life as it is these days

Two days before check out day, I opened up the news to see what was transpiring with regards to the wildfires.  The plan I had in place was for the next two nights to be spent in Invermere.  From the news I knew Invermere was not the place to be.  I may be able to get there but to head further north from there was not in the cards, not at this point in time anyway.   I cancelled out of Invermere and booked into Fernie, there were still numerous options available of places to stay.  The route shown here was no longer in the plan.
When the 3rd actually rolled around, I hit the road with intentions of staying in Fernie and then deciding when it was time to leave there would 93 be open where the wildfire in red is shown and head that way or would I carry on east through Crowsnest and north to home from there.  
Well, as it turned out traffic was light heading in my direction from Nelson and in no time at all I passed through Salmo, passed through Creston, passed through Cranbrook, then made the split decision and sailed right on by Fernie.  It was now and only now did I begin to smell the smoke and feel it sting my eyes.  The traffic going against me was crazy and I almost had the highway to myself in my direction.  I just went for it.  Fort McLeod came upon me before I even knew it and now I was heading north, to home.

This road trip did not pan out as I had planned it to or had hoped for what it would be.  The new me is absolutely fine with this and I treasure it for what it was.  I realized I liked taking each day as it came and being free to opt out, change plans, reroute, go when I want and where I want.  I want to do this again, in a different direction though and at a time of year when I do not need accommodations booked in advance.  My September is wide open except for one Saturday so far.  I look forward to what the next days and weeks and months have in store!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Revelstoke Mountain Resort The Stoke July 30, 2018

I had one day to do something on the bigger side in Revelstoke.  My original intention was to drive up the long Meadows in the Sky Parkway in Mount Revelstoke National Park and then do a hike from up there.  After reading about closures and bear warnings I quickly went into recovery mode to come up with another place to play.  It did not take long to decide, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, that's the place.

There were two gondolas that I needed to ride to get to the top where the hiking trails are.  This was the view as I walked away from the gondola and headed for the trail head for The Stoke.  The Stoke is a new trail that just opened this summer.  
Everything was new up here.
This map shows the route and gives a short story.
green for easy
It was the easy Cupcake Trail that lead the way to where the blue intermediate Stoke Trail began.  
It was such a treat to be experiencing everything in mint condition. 
new bridge
As I hiked along I felt appreciative for the work people did to get this trail in hiking condition.  I realized how much there was to consider when building it.  Thank you for the switch backs.  Tree stumps along the sides of the trail in places made great seats, places to sit your pack, even places to place your camera to get a selfie.  Whether that was intentional or not, thank you again.

I am ready to get stoked!
When I popped out of the trees, the scenes were phenomenal.  Yet it was too bad smoke made for hazy views.  Even though it was smoky off in the distance, just like in Golden I could not smell it and it did not bother me.   I wondered if this stump was placed here purposely at this angle, it made for a perfect prop for my photo.
marmot has the pose perfected
a section lined with rocks
Out in the open now it was hot hot hot.  It was surprising with how dry and hot it has been, the grass is as green as can be and further along the meadow was covered in hippies and paintbrushes.  You can see the switchbacks going up the side of the grassy slope.
hippies & high peaks
The whole row of peaks was a sight to see.  I can only imagine on a clearer day how spectacular this would look.  I was beginning to wonder if I would make it to the top.  I was already well over the distance posted.  I was not quite sure what to expect at the summit of a new trail.
I finally reached the summit and I immediately capture the proof.  This cairn needs some work.  I imagine as more people reach this place, the size of the cairn will grow.  I guess too, at some point grass and wildflowers will grow here.
I needed to take a load off and then load up on fuel.  It felt good just to sit, feel the breeze, savour my snacks, admire the scenery and just be.  I have no idea what range of mountains are across the valley in front of me here but they went on and on and on.
After investing time here, it was time for me to head on and on and on down.   I was glad to get back into the shade of the forest where I slowed my pace and let myself be bathed in the trees.  That's the new thing, forest bathing.   I needed a real bathing though after being covered in sweat, sunscreen and bug spray.   That would come after the gondolas down then the short drive back to my suite.

I don't feel I had enough of Golden, Roger's Pass or of Revelstoke.  These places need to go back onto my to do list as there are many more hike options to attack.  But, life goes on and tomorrow I hit the road again.  I am excited for what tomorrow and the days after bring.