Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not Quite Invincible!

Lucky me, along with six great guys, got to prove that Invincible Lake is not unconquerable at all! I could see where it may be for some, but we were filled with determination and fortitude today and that is exactly what it took!

What was forecast to be a 14km trip with an elevation gain of 635 meters was off the mark! When all was said and done, we covered 16.6km with a total elevation gain of 965 meters. We learned the lesson why it is so important to go prepared for no matter what by bringing enough water, sunscreen, bandaids and Vitamin I. A few of us experienced levels of heat exhaustion, some felt dehydrated, others needed bandaids, Gatorade and salt.

This is our destination! The lake in the distance which we were joyous to see because at this point we had already done considerable elevation and had been on the trail for three and a half hours on wide open spaces in blistering sunshine. Getting to this point was quite the journey as you can see from the montage below!
I'm at the top of the steep, fire ridden slope where we took a break before continuing on with our ascent. We climbed to our highest point then it was time to descend into the valley down a steep screen slope where we were afforded the opportunity to run and slide making it a very quick trip to the bottom. I am becoming quite comfortable on the downhill screen slopes but still need assistance with steep narrow traverses.
How glorious is this! We were not defeated! We conquered! We overcame! We descended upon our destination the not quite invincible, Invincible Lake!
The Lake is nearby Mount Invincible which had a distinct look to it. It, along with two other mountains in the vacinity, Mount Warspite and Mount Indefatigable are all named after battle ships. The lake was inviting with most of us cooling off our legs in it and one brave fellow took a total dip.
This was a very rewarding day! As one of my buddies stated, he felt pleasantly depleted! That described my feeling exactly. We only saw two other folks the whole day and they were at the back side of the lake fishing. It's not a well known trail nor one that is frequented. It was an accomplishment to reach a place where so many others would dare not to go.

Friday, August 28, 2009


That's the distance I covered bike riding today! It's a record for me! Oh, am I feeling it now!

I followed the Trans Canada Trail from north to south! The Deane House looks pretty with matching flowers in front! I took a few breaks along the way and here I could see the city off in the distance! So happy to leave it in the distance!
The Bow River is a famous fishing grounds. Here are two fly fishermen whipping their lines in and out of the water as they row along.
The route goes through Carburn Park and the reflection in the water caught my eye. Reflections are catching my eye lots lately!
I finally arrived at Fish Creek Provincial Park. The Ranche is a great place to dine. I've been three times. Today, though, I packed my own lunch.
This looks like a nice place to enjoy my wrap, pretzels and apple.
Yum! I worked up an appetite! I devoured my lunch sitting in the shade! What a hot day!
It was just another couple of kilometers further to Sikome Lake. I wasn't allowed to take my bike onto the beach area.
Nature is nice! Other than reflections, this caught my eye too!
As did the cloud formations!
Time was getting on, and I better be getting on. To home that is! You know the city is big when there are traffic circles on the bike path.
One last rest stop! Time for a snack, a chance to catch my breath and to enjoy the view!
Six hours and seven minutes after leaving my front door, I arrive back at it! I have never been so thankful to see it! What a great way to spend a Friday! Now to get ready for tomorrow! The plan is for only 14km, this time on foot looking for Invincible Lake! We will see how invincible it is! Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hike a Hill

Even hiking Cox Hill, I could still achieve that "on top of the world" feeling! After two challenging hikes last weekend, I was due for a walk in the park. I wanted a hill today, not a mountain, so we settled on Cox Hill which is pretty much out our front door. The day was not without obstacles. First one was this! We waited, put the car in park, burped the horn a couple of times, waited, they were doing their own walk in the park. We waited while they continued to stream out of the woods.
Five minutes into our hike, we were presented with our second obstacle. No bridge to cross the wide, full, (soon to find out freezing) fast-flowing creek. After casing the joint, we concluded we needed to do the bare foot thing and just go for it, which we did. The return trip was a different story!
You can see we were quite indecisive on how to cross the creek!

We made the continuous climb through the winding, narrow, tree lined trail where no views were afforded. At about the 5 km distance, we sensed an opening ahead and this is where we stopped to dine and drink before we dash off again. Scape Goat was today's pale ale choice. After a toast, we filled up on fuel, took some photos then carried on.
We made it to the top of Cox Hill! We couldn't see Calgary in the distance but we could plainly see Mt Yumnuska, Moose Mountain, Prairie Mountain and Jumpingpound Mountain. We spent some time on the ridge following towards the Jumpingpound Ridge. What amazing scenery! We watched a biker make his way up the hill side towards us. I asked was he on his own! He said his buddies were over there and pointed way off in the distance. I couldn't see them! We chatted, got him to take our photo, chatted more. I asked again where are your buddies? He pointed way off in the distance! I said, you must have had your Wheaties this morning, you have a long wait for them. I still couldn't see them. He said he was use to it. I said, you've done this before. He replied he was on the Canadian cycling team for 7 years! I didn't ask his name but I wish I did.
I think another time I want to get back to this place and carry on further along the Jumpingpound Ridge Trail. It's such a beautiful ridge! It may not happen this year, one can sense that fall is soon upon us. There has been a change in color of grass and trees and bushes and weeds. Berries were in abundance! That's an end of summer thing as is when the bees are feasting.

On the return trip, we looked for another option for the creek crossing and picked a place further down where it looked narrower and shallower. We wanted to avoid having to remove our socks and boots this time and feeling too lazy to anyway. Mistake! I led! R followed! I slipped! R slipped! To just below our knees! Good thing we were only 5 minutes from the trail head. I twisted the water out of my socks and shoes and insoles. I could have measured two cups worth of creek!

When I downloaded our track onto Google Earth, I was shocked and saddened at what I saw! All the light green square patches. I zoomed out further and it just got worse, all the clear cutting. Why? Is it due to the beetle infestation?
Today was just what the doctor ordered! I feel so fortunate to be able to experience such fun and amazing scenery so close to home!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Head Examined !

If you truly could understand what we experienced today, you would probably tell us we need our heads examined! It was a sketchy adventure! After putting our heads together, we decided to head out to the Headwall Lakes and tackle them head on!In addition to the adventure being sketchy, so was the weather! Yesterday's hike was the dirtiest I ever got, well today's was the wettest I ever got! Not only was it a struggle to get up slopes, it was a struggle to keep my pants up too! They are a looser fit at the best of times but once they got soaked, the added weight dragged them down. I think I spent more time hoisting my pants up them hoisting myself up!

It took a while to reach the first Headwall Lake and the struggle to get there was all worth it. The sun shone on us here and that offered a reprieve along with pretty reflections.

To this point, not another soul was seen! Then quickly behind us came a solo trekker with his best friend, Fido. Both were on their way to ascend The Fortress, or so that was the plan. The weather rained on their parade and they both quickly returned wagging their tales between their legs. We had a consultation with the trekker because we were not sure which direction to head even after reviewing the map and my book. He sent us off on our merry way, but making sure we were aware of what was ahead!

This! A very steep up over a short distance that took an hour. I tell you, as we neared the summit, I had a melt-down moment. I said "what have I gotten myself into" and I near wolfed my cookies! G said 'not right now"! We reached the summit, it wasn't all that wide, the rain turned to sleet! I looked over the other side and it was an even steeper drop and that was where we had to go to get down. Do I need my head examined! My Mom use to tell me that when I would do something stupid! My friend lead the way, I followed so closely behind, making sure to dig in my heals and lean back. I needed him closely in front of me to block the view of this steep down. I could only see his back and my feet. Once at the bottom, I let out a sigh and hoisted up my pants which had taken a big downhill trip of their own!

When I did look around along this adventure, there was lots to see. It may not have been the sunniest and driest day but clouds can play tricks on the mountains and the moisture can make greens greener. It takes lots of water to make a beautiful waterfall....
...and a beautiful rainbow! Any day that ends with a vista like this, has to be considered golden!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Monumental Moments

Today was big in many ways! Not just for distance, elevation and hiking time but more importantly for the accomplishments and being at a place that held significant meaning. I'm at that place in the photo below! This Monument sits on the edge of the 3rd Memorial Lake with Bogart Tower as its backdrop. The hike to the Memorial Lakes is not a well known trail, neither is it marked. Many make the attempt but very few reach the 3rd Lake, most settle for the 2nd Lake as their destination.

From what I was able to find out beforehand, I would have to say we were fortunate today, because all three lakes were full and glorious, which is not normally the case. The falls between them created a roaring thunder.
Once the first one was reached, the second one came quickly thereafter. While the first lake sparkled in a dull blue color, the second one was full of reflection and an amazing color of turquoise. We stopped for some fuel with this lake being only a couple of feet from our own feet.

We brain stormed on a game plan to attack what was at our back and keeping the third lake out of sight, Bogart Tower. How menacing it looked! I read before hand that there were two ways to go up. We tried one, almost crawling up a steep scree slope. I reached a high enough point that I saw the only way beyond this was a scramble that I was not prepared for. So, I wasn't successful but my friend was! You can see him in the trio of photos below, underneath each red star. I inched my way back down to the second lake to wait while he carried on. The plan was I would wait an hour and hopefully he would be back by then, if not.....

Only about 42 minutes later, I hear a holler and there he was, ready to begin his descent. I told him he needs to get a light colored shirt so he can be seen in photos. He made it down, showed me photos of what he saw and I felt like a looser, like a wimp but accepted the fact that I tried and the second lake would have to be my summit. I suggested we walk to the far end of the second lake just to admire its beauty from another angle. We then noticed another trail up behind Bogart Tower. Now, this is where accomplishments happen. I am feeling a little down because I was not able to ascend and he starts heading up this second trail. I follow! I see it is steep, very steep, with some scrambling but not near as much as before. With encouragement and a little hand holding, I followed! We summit and very quickly! So quickly that G can say he summit the same mountain twice in one day all in a little over an hour. Now that deserves bragging rights!

It was about a 15 minute hike to the other side of the third lake to where the monument stands. If you zoom in on the photo you can read the names of those who died in the plane crashes or check out this story by the Alberta Wilderness Legacy. It felt amazing to be here! To see the monument! To touch it!
This was a really long day with just under 10 hours of hiking. It was the dirtiest I ever got on a hike as I found the easiest way down was on my behind. That didn't matter! All that mattered was that we made it to the 3rd Memorial Lake to see the monument! I am so thankful for my friend's encouragement! Now we had 10km ahead of us for the return trip. I was beaming! I sensed he was too, although quite tired from the duo summit. When you are checking out the numbers below on elevation and distance, add a couple of more kilometers and 200 more meters of elevation and you will get his totals for the day.

Like my very first sentence in this post says "today was big in many ways"!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Three R's

Rawson Rain Rainbows

Today was so pretty, it could be a calendar photo on a page in my books! Tuesday, August 11, 2009 marks the day I made it to Sarrail Ridge where I got to look down onto Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Lower Kananaskis Lake and Hidden Lake all at the same time.
Our first destination was Rawson Lake where it allows Sarrail Ridge to reflect in its greenish blueish waters. We started out in sunshine, not a single breeze and 16 degrees Celsius. How perfect is that! Our trip up to the Lake was quick, the quickest I have ever done it, but yet, it was a comfortable pace.
When we arrived, it was definitely a picture perfect spot! After a few shots, we carried on around to the backside to stop for a fueling snack for the gruelling slog that faced us. You can see where we hope to go, and the trail up follows the gully. How lush! How green! So pretty! So tough! This was the steepest I have ever hiked, not including the scramble stuff I have done. I had to stop every few minutes to catch my breath and to look behind me, never forget to look at the beauty behind you. We covered about 350 meters in approximately 1.5 km. So glad I had my new boots on, they brought comfort, support and confidence. On the return trip, we got our wildlife fill for the day, this moose!

We had a few sprinkles as we reached the top! So glad we did because if not for those, I would not have this rainbow shot to share with you. We chased rainbows! They were all over the place! They grew and grew and we watched them! They seemed alive!
Before settling down for lunch, I got my summit shot taken care off! Have I started something? Others wanted summit shots too, even those who have dared not to go there in the past! How can one resist!

After lunch, we geared up and were ready for the descent. Gosh! It seemed steeper going down so I stuck to the big rocks in the gully and at times trampled on the grass and flowers only to avoid the path that was now becoming slick due to sprinkles that were turning to rain. I did take two tumbles but had quick recoveries, not even sure if anyone noticed!

Just past Rawson Lake, we ran into a large group that warned us of a mother grizzly with her two cubs that were along the switchbacks. We regrouped, decided to stick very close together, we had our bear spray ready along with a bear banger and air horn. But our best defense of all, was lots of loud talking and singing. It's funny where conversations go when you really don't have anything more to talk about but you need to talk! The only sign we saw was tonnes of very fresh bear scat, the freshest I have ever seen. Not sure that is anything to brag about!

I was absolutely drenched by the time we made it back to the trail head. My new Styngers kept my feet dry and my jacket kept my upper body dry, other then that, I felt like a drowned rat. You know what? That still beats laying on the sofa at home watching TV!

I so enjoyed today! I want more days like these because they take me so high that I feel like I am "on top of the world!"