Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mount Lady MacBear

That's my new name for Mount Lady MacDonald! We were finally able to hit the Cougar Creek Trail in Canmore to connect us to the Mt Lady MacDonald trail to bag the peak. "Lady Macdonald Hiking Trail, Canmore Area: The wildlife closure of the Lady Macdonald hiking trail has been lifted; the trail is now open. Please note that cougars may still be present in the area as their prey, bighorn sheep, frequent the area adjacent to the trail." This was the notice posted on the Kananaskis Trail Conditions Website on Thursday so that meant this hike was a go. So we went! We remained cautious that cougars could still be in the vicinity though.

We never expected to see what we saw though! Hence, the name, Mount Lady MacBear! There were many highlights for today with the main highlight being reaching the summit and, of course, the scenery on the journey to the summit was spectacular. We had a variety of trail conditions along the way. We started on a groomed trail with a view of The Three Sisters behind us. We rock and rolled over a lengthy boulder field and even had to slosh through snow higher up. Check out the photo of our final push to the summit. If you look closely you will see hikers ahead of us, they appear as dots so this puts things into perspective.
Part way up a couple of my buddies caught a glimpse of a grizzly about 75 to 100 meters away, running away from us. We felt safe so carried on yet waiting until we reached the plateau before calling the sighting in. This is my summit shot from the plateau area. I'm standing on what was to be a helicopter landing pad with a fenced platform behind me where there was to be a teahouse. It was never completed and never will be!
We rested here for a short while and filled our tanks before heading on to tackle the scramble part which would bring us to the summit of Mount Lady MacDonald which is in the left photo just short of the V on the left of the mountain. Adventure Designer also called in our grizzly sighting.
I took a panorama shot showing the townsite of Canmore and the surrounding mountain ranges including The Three Sisters to the mid left.
It was a slow slog for the last push to the summit but so well worth it when we reached it. The ridge was the narrowest I have been on with not much room to maneuver. I desperately wanted a true summit shot and this was the best I could come up with. It is a straight drop in front of me and a cornice behind me with a straight drop. Even though this is a summit shot it is truly a "limit shot"! I found my limit for today! Maybe the next time my limit will be standing upright. This was also a graduation day for me, as we covered close to 1150 meters in total elevation gain, that is the most I have completed in one hike yet. You can see to the left, others much more experienced then me, carried on along what is called the "Knife Edge Ridge"! I can't even imagine the adrenaline rush they must have been feeling. At this time, little did we know this was not the adrenaline peak!
We conquered what we set out to do, now it was time to quickly get back down to the plateau area because we saw a few dark clouds move in and it was best to be on safer ground. We played around for awhile once we were back down on the helicopter pad, taking fun photos, telling stories and snacking.

The rest of the hike ahead of us was the easy part! We shed a few layers and slowly sauntered downwards, winding through the forest portion. A couple of minutes after we moved aside to let two faster fellows pass us, they returned us the favour by yelling "BEAR" to us. This was the adrenaline peak point! They say its just to your right so move to your left. For what seemed like eternity but in reality was a fraction of a second, we stood eye to eye with a grizzly bear about 25 feet away. In her this time serious, yet, as always calm way, Adventure Designer rallied the troops. The bear stared at us then slowly started to move towards us but as we quickly did what was advised which was to bunch together to make us look gigantic, get the bear spray in the aim position then deeply and loudly give it a piece of our minds, it appeared to take off and veer away from us. No more sauntering from here on in, we then went about our business quickly and noisily through the balance of the forest, over the big boulder field, and on to a more gentler slope which was open. Once again feeling in a safe place, Adventure Designer placed a second call to report the sighting. We felt concerned for those who were still far behind us on their way down, and dumbfounded at those that choose to carry on up after we warned them.

It was at this point when we are on the flat, final stretch to the trailhead that my heartbeat settled down somewhat, my pupils contracted back to normal, I could saunter again and take a few final last photos. This photo looks to me like we are heading home after a hard day's work!
Today was a learning experience and a growing one too! Agent X shared some words of wisdom with me that I am very thankful to have learned and will take with me every time I am out in a playground like this. The written words of my friend are very fitting, "Go ahead and top this"! So Mount Lady MacDonald! I pronounce you Mount Lady MacBear!



1 comment:

  1. Your summit shot is something else! I probably wouldn't be able to stand up as much as you are there. Talk about an adrenaline filled day! The views are outstanding, and those grizzly sightings! The one time I was with a group and encountered a bear on a hike we warned a single hiker behind us. She didn't even flinch, she passed us and kept right on going. This was within 5 minutes of us seeing the bear. Crazy! My friend also did the complete wrong thing and turned around and started running away...

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