Sunday, July 19, 2009

Higher and Higher

Of all the hikes I have done to date, today's trek to Cirque Peak on the Columbia Icefield Parkway, for me, has to have been the most challenging! I am feeling the level of difficulty involved is probably my limit. Although, I have said that before (3 times) and each time after that, I surpassed my limit. Today was such a large day it deserves to be framed! We kept a decent moderate pace all the way to Helen Lake. The few first kilometers we climbed through the trees and once we got above the tree line our destination was visible. We stopped at Helen Lake for lunch and while we were energizing, we put a plan in place to attack what faced us! "X" marks the spot! That is the top of Cirque Peak.
Along our journey, the Dolomite Peaks were forever present. They received their name from folks who thought they resembled the Dolomite Range in the Italian Alps. There are 5 peaks in total and are a mixture of limestone and dolomite.
This is grizzly territory but fortunately for us those that were ahead of us on the trail scared one off into the far meadow. We did see wildlife though! Here is a ptarmigan who blends in with the rock and a very healthy looking marmot.
Remember the "X" that marked the spot on top of Cirque Peak? Well, I reached it and now I am looking back to where we had lunch at Helen Lake. "X" marks the spot. It was quite the effort to reach the top. We had some so called "non-technical" scrambling to do. It felt technical to me because there was proper foot placement involved along with feeling for solid rocks to hold onto and there was hoisting yourself up involved too! I have been considering purchasing more solid and stable hiking boots and today I realized if I am going to be doing anymore of this kind of bagging, then I need proper footwear. At one point, a large rock dislodged and landed on the front of my right foot. Ouch! I was holding on to other large stable rocks with both hands trying to keep my balance. I could not get my foot from under the rock. The fellow above me was afraid to move fearing he would dislodge other rocks. I got a solid grip with one hand and worked at getting the rock off my foot. Finally I did! I have a dent in the front of my boot, the swelling in my foot has gone down but the bruise remains. One of the girls wondered if this is the way we should have gone that it did not seem safe without helmets. So we backtracked and found another way up.
The other way up took us to a scree-like slope which worked fine for me, I was able to move up the slope without much slipping or rock movement. It was slow though, I had to stop every few minutes to catch my breath. I said to my hiking buddie behind me that for a second there I thought, what the hell am I doing here! He gave a slight chuckle and nodded with affirmation. I realized it would take too much energy for him to verbalize anything more. I knew he had been thinking the same thing!

The effort it took to get to the "X" that marked the spot was well worth it when you end up with views like I have here in my summit shot. After this shot was taken, I sat down on the peak and could not keep my heart off my sleeve. I got emotional behind my sunglasses. No, I was not hyperventilating! That's what some others thought! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be reaching higher and higher.
I was not able to eat while we relaxed here. I noticed my GPS had skipped a beat just like I did. My summit was the first summit, a couple of others went to the far one thinking there was a registar to sign but there wasn't. I took numerous photos up here and this one is my favourite. It shows the cairn that tells us we are in the right place. You can see the Glaciers above Bow Lake. In the bottom right corner of the lake you can see Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.
It was a quick trip down off the summit. Running down the scree is like floating on air or snowshoeing down a mountain in lots of new fresh snow. We were flying! Not only was I flying down the mountain but I was flying high feeling like I was "on top of the world"!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an amazing hike! That elevation profile looks positively scary! Congratulations on reaching new heights.

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