Saturday, August 28, 2010

Snow Peak on a Summer Day

When the plan to scramble Snow Peak was initially formalized and put out there for an option for today, the possibility was that the Peak would live up to its name!  As Saturday drew closer, the optimism and positive outlook always displayed by V-Joy,  came to fruition!

The moment I saw our destination, I thought to myself, "are you serious", "really", "this is a joke right", "how on earth", "O.K. if you say so"!  We had the weather on our side, the trail to ourselves, a happy far so good!
We set a good pace for the flatter part of the trail that follows along side the Burstall Lakes, across the flood plain and up to Burstall Pass.  The plain was on the drier side with just a few wet areas that were easy to work our way around.  The shrubs were just high enough that any wildlife could easily be hidden in, so we made sure to announce our presence here. 

Burstall Pass would be our first major break of the day.  We completed some of the elevation to this point and needed to rest and refuel for the scramble ahead to the summit.  The landscape on Burstall Pass looks like something from out of this world.  We had great views for our break, no wind and warmth from the sunshine. 
Our destination was directly in front of us.  Once again I thought "are you serious", "really"!  Others expressed my sentiments also.   We made a plan of how we would attack this Peak.   Mt. Assiniboine was visible in the far off distance to the left of Snow Peak.  
This was a great time to get a close up shot while it was clear.
We hiked and scrambled our way to the summit and it seemed to take no time at all.  We had a 360 degree view which was a generous reward for not a whole lot of effort.  No jumping for my summit shot this time.  The summit was narrow with lots of loose rock.
We spent an hour and fifteen minutes on the summit.  We sat quietly at times in amazement, napped, dined and took lots of photos.  I found the summit canister under a few big rocks and added my name to the list of other lucky folks who had summited on previous days.
Before starting our descent, I took one last shot of the view.  This is what I stared at while I enjoyed my lunch.  Banff is off there somewhere and that is Leman Lake below.  
This trio is brought to you by the letter "f"!  If you are lucky enough to summit Snow Peak one day, you may be fortunate enough to see the scene on the back of this summit stone.  One of my hiking buddies changed into these hiking shoes once we reached a more gentle trail.  
This trio is brought to you by the letter "r"!  K2 joined me for the reflection photo.  We were both in agreement that if you take the time to see all that is around you, you can end up with some unique photos, not just a river, or just a lake or just a mountain.
The whole day was a reward!  If you look on the positive side, even the snow that came down two minutes before the end, was a fitting note to end a hike to Snow Peak on.  The "top of the world" looked so far away and a gigantic hurdle but was close and easy to get to today!  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Waterton Weekend Was WOW! HOLY WOW MORNING!

The next thing I knew after placing my head on the pillow last night was I woke and it was 5:15 am.  I slept through the night!  Amazing!  I laid there for about 45 minutes and just listened to the peacefulness.  I heard Agent-X rustling around out side so I came out to see what she was up to.  She was already starting her day.  I walked to the washroom to clean up then returned to have coffee and breakfast.  We began to clean up the camp site and put everything away but when we were just about complete, K2 who was at another camp site over, voiced a quiet urgent alert!  "BEAR!"  The black bear was smelling around the campsite next to ours and was starting to work his way towards ours.  Agent-X grabbed a few last things and said get into the car.  I got into my car and she got into the other car.  The bear came to the back of my tent and was sniffing around.  At this moment I was petrified alone in my car so got out and went to join Agent-X as she jumped out to grab another last thing off the picnic table.  What an adrenalin rush!  We sat in the car, the bear came over to my window, for a split second I couldn't look and then when I did, I swear the bear smiled at me!  It smelled around for a bit and then walked across the road.  I was snapping pictures now left and right but could not get a really good photo.  This was the best I could do. I could hardly wait to tell our other buddies whose base camp was down the road.  This was a definite high-light of the weekend!
Once he was out of sight and gone, we carried on with dismantling the tents and packing up the balance of the gear.   Some were heading off for another hike while others had their own plans, like me, I wanted to go to the Prince of Wales Hotel, walk around the town and along the lakeshore.  We said our goodbyes and continued on our separate ways!  My first stop was the the Prince of Wales Hotel.
This is Waterton townsite on a quiet, overcast, Sunday morning.  I took this photo from the lawn of the Hotel.
I walked for a bit along the shore of Waterton Lake.  I realized I didn't have my bear spray with me, so this was not a smart or safe place to be so I quickly worked my way up to the main street.  Only yesterday we saw a mamma bear and her baby playing on the opposite side of the lake on the boat trip back from our hike.
I walked along the main street, looked in some stores and then decided I should probably hit the road for the just under three hour drive back to Calgary.  I had a wonderful weekend in Waterton.  I could not have asked for a more fun experience with my friends!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Waterton Weekend Was WOW! Evening at the Campsite

Crandell Campground was home for my friends last night and I would be joining them for this night.  I don't have all the equipment yet, so a friend loaned me this Hubba Hubba tent.  I set up my inflatable matt, sleeping bag and hung my new lantern.   It's best to get that done before nightfall.
We got a fire going and placed our camp chairs around it.  The picnic table was full of delicious food and wine.  We had a potluck which included chile, sausages, salads, buns, fruit, spaghetti, hamburgers, veggies and dip, and rice.   I tried a little bit of just about everything and after that I needed to walk some of it off to make room for desert.
While some stayed back at base camp, a few of us drove down the road to hike Red Rock Canyon before sunset.  On the way, we saw a brown black bear with her cub bouncing along behind.   Boy it was cute, it was very small and at times was almost lost in the tall grass.
We quickly hiked the Canyon up one side and down the other.  You can see why it is called Red Rock Canyon.
The hike wasn't really long enough to burn off any dinner but what the heck, I had to try some new things.  The first was a roasted marshmellow filled with baileys.  We had a pro preparing these!  I also tried a crepe filled with chocolate and marshmellow that had been roasted over the camp fire.  That was enough for me.  A little more wine, a trip to the washroom and it was time to call it a day at 11:00 pm.   I was prepared for a sleepless night seeing as this was the first time I would be camping out like this sleeping in a tent by myself!   Well, I remember laying my head on the pillow and that was it!

Waterton Weekend Was WOW! Crypt Lake Hike

This weekend was my introduction to hiking/camping!  I would like to think I passed with flying colors, but I learned that I have a lot to learn!  The experience was more than the full meal deal, it had free added extras.  I learned too that hiking/camping is something I want to include in my lifestyle.  Thank you to Agent-X and the others for making me feel so welcome, offering advice and suggestions and for lending a hand with making it the best possible experience for a newbie!

The sunrise on the drive to Waterton Saturday morning just had to be a sign for the weekend. This would not have appeared as gorgeous if the air was clear of smoke from the B.C. forest fires.  It was shortly past here where the air cleared, the sky turned blue and you could see forever.
The plan for Saturday was to hike Crypt Lake.   We arrived in time to purchase our ticket for the 9:00 am boat that would take us 3km to the trail head on the other side of Waterton Lake.  The dock was a happening place this morning so two boats were brought in to leave around 9:00.  We boarded, we sailed off, we docked, we hiked!  Just like that!  We hiked like we were on a mission, which was to get out of the trees to the wide open area where we would have views.  This hike is famous for a certain section along the trail which involves climbing up a steel ladder which is secured to the mountain side.  You then step off the ladder into a tunnel where you need to crouch and move along coming out the other end where you grab hold of a chain and keep holding on while you walk a ledge.  Once this section is complete it is just another 10 minutes to Crypt Lake.   The first glimpse was beautiful!
We took about 30 minutes for lunch at the Lake.   I found the perfect spot here to place a special stone.  I wonder if it will still be there if I hike here again next year.  After lunch, we went for a stroll around the lake stopping to take photos often. 
The lake took on many different looks depending on which direction you were admiring it from.  The flowers were in full bloom on this side.  If you look closely, you can see hikers crossing the snow on the far side.
We are at the south end of the lake when I took this photo.  That means I am standing in Montana in the United States.  Almost right where that cloud reflection is, is the border between Canada and United States.
Once back at the north end of the lake, we packed up our gear and headed back along the trail.  This is the line up at the chain section which leads into the tunnel. Yes, it was a busy day here!
We took our time for part of the time on the return trip to admire the colors and the flowers.
We arrived back at the boat dock at 3:57 for the 4:00 boat.  Luckily it was running a few minutes late.   The boat that arrived was larger and was able to take everyone that was waiting to return to the townsite.  We boarded, we sailed off, we docked, we walked!  Off to our cars to take care of a few errands before heading to Crandell Campground.  I thought the day was perfect and it wasn't even over yet!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mount Bourgeau August 15, 2010

Today I was pleasantly surprised to realize that hiking 24.5 kilometers with 1500 meters of elevation was not challenging or difficult at all.  Maybe today I was at the top of my game when we hiked to Bourgeau Lake, then on to Harvey Pass and up to the summit of Mount Bourgeau.  

The elevation started right at the trailhead when we had to climb these three stairs and go through this door.  This is a barrier to keep the wild life in. This is another way of telling us to stick close together and make lots of noise.
It was surprising how fast the first seven kilometers went.  It seemed we reached Bourgeau Lake in no time with not much effort and it was a continuous gradual ascent.  From here, when we looked up, we had an idea of where we would be in just a couple of hours.  This was a good spot to stop for a few minutes for a snack.
As most of you already know, I always notice reflections and today I was noticing shadows too.  Today's sky was perfect for creating lots of both.  The shadows casted on the mountains were more prominent the further up we climbed.  
At this point, we are making the last push to the summit.  I'm still feeling strong  I don't have that emotional and physical spent feeling and wonder if I could have carried on even further and higher if the opportunity was there today.
I wonder if today was the highest I have ever been physically while hiking in the Canadian Rockies!   When we were on the summit of Mount Bourgeau the view looked so different.  I could see so many layers.  I use the word "layers" for lack of a better term.   It was not just 3 dimensional but more like 4 or even 5 dimensional.  I was quite taken with this today, and lots of photos were taken too of the layers.  I especially liked the different color of each layer.  

We reached the summit and this would be our lunch stop. I had a hard time just sitting down and relaxing.  I was amazed at where I was and what I was seeing.   I placed a stone for someone.  It could be you that finds it one day!  If you come upon it, be sure to let me know!  I got my summit jump out of the way.  I have learned it is better to do it before I eat.   We had a lengthy visit on the summit!  That's the best kind of visit especially when the conditions are ideal.  You can see Banff in the valley far below me.  
This was one of my favourite scenes of the day!  It shows many layers and a lake and the lake leads to a waterfall.  I think this is Harvey Lake.   
We hiked for just over 10 hours.  That is making pretty good time for a, just about 25km, hike.  A couple of my buddies needed a double double for the long drive home.  I needed a blueberry bloom!  That was the icing on a very loveable day!

Stay Tuned!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Unbelievable Unimaginable Good Luck on Friday the 13th

Now there is an oxymoron for you!   I should have purchased a Lotomax ticket.  Mid afternoon on Friday the 13th, my friend and I made the final commitment to hike up Prairie Mountain to stay the night and watch the Perseids Meteor Shower.   This was something I have always dreamed of doing.  

The forecast was iffy over the past couple of days but looked to have potential for a short window of time throughout the wee hours of the 14th.  If you don't take chances in life, you miss out on a whole lot.  We took the chance!  I would have been happy if we saw just a handful of meteors.  

We hit the trail at 7:45 PM on Friday the 13th!  We knew we couldn't be slowpokes because we had to reach the top and set up camp while we still had light.  I have never backpacked before and hiking up 730 meters of elevation over 3.7 kms with a very heavy pack on my back was an eye opener.
We thought a slow steady pace should work in our favour.  As it turned out, we were quick and steady reaching the top at 9:05 PM.  That is the fastest I ever made it up Prairie Mountain.  We dropped out packs and headed for the summit cairn to take a few photos and so I could place a stone.  I dated the stone "Friday the 13th" and it shows mountains with a night sky filled with meteors and a crescent moon.

We looked for a fairly flat spot with trees for shelter to set up base camp.   We no sooner started to set up when the clouds opened and it rained heavily.  We got the tent set, then set up inside and stayed in to keep warm and dry.  I got to try out my new sleeping bag and it is absolutely a keeper.

We passed the hours talking about anything and everything!  
Where did the time go!  
Before we knew it, it was 1:00 AM.  
When we peeked outside a few stars were visible.  

We headed up the mountain a bit and watched for a few minutes.  We did see a few faint meteors but it was cloudy and it began to sprinkle again.  I would have been happy if that was all we saw.  We then retreated to base camp and carried on with the conversation.  

At 3:00 AM we looked out again and WOW the sky was totally clear.  We hiked back up to a wide open spot, settled in and waited for the show to start.  Within a matter of a few seconds a meteor shot over my shoulder and I jumped and yelled "there".  My friend jumped and yelled "where'!  I guess my "there" sounded like "bear"! 

The sky was full!  We didn't know what to look at, there was so much going on!  I laid down and stared straight up as the experts suggested to do, and I just viewed the meteor show.  I didn't last long there, I wanted to stand with my friend.  Every few seconds either one of us was pointing and saying "there".   At times we even saw the same meteors.  They were so vivid and big and close.   I felt like I could reach out and touch some of them.

The Perseids Meteor Shower was not the only thing we had a fantastic view off.  We saw about two meteors every minute  We also saw a shooting star (meteorite) fly from the west sky all the way across to the east sky and then disappear.   Visible in the southeast sky was a large bright circle which radiated a bright circle of light for quite some distance.  That was Jupiter!  In the west sky we viewed what looked like three very large stars, that was Venus, Saturn and Mars.  Also, stretching across the whole sky was the Milky Way.  This time we stayed for 45 minutes.  My friend tried to take some photos of the stars but we are not sure if they will turn out. 

At 4:00 AM we headed back to base camp, turned out the lantern and tried to catch some zzzzs.  We managed about two hours and that was it.  The sun came up and the birds started chirping.  We gathered ourselves and our stuff together then took one last trip to the cairn and a little beyond before heading back down the trail to the car.  It was quick but challenging for me.  It was steep and the heavy pack tried to push me down the mountain.  We managed the descent in 50 minutes.  

It felt good to sit in the car.  As we pulled away, all of a sudden it hit me, what we just experienced!  I had a moment behind my sunglasses that I could not disguise.  How fortunate were we!  I love when dreams come true and especially when they turn out being more then you could ever imagine.   This was an experience I would recommend to everyone to try at least once in their life time.  It is out of this world!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Run August 12, 2010

Now!  That's more like it!  What a difference two days makes!  Maybe it was the company.  This morning Adam and Katy came along.  They motivated me, made the run feel much easier and helped me maintain a steady pace.  I should let them join me more often!  Oh!  By the way Adam, I don't want anything from you!  Just be yourself, in my books you are fine the way you are!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Big Kid at Heart

Today I let loose and let the inner child in me come out to play!  The last time I was at  Calaway Park was 26 years ago on my first visit ever to Calgary.   I didn't remember much and the only part that looked familiar was what I see from the highway every time I head to the mountains.  What a bright, cheerful, colorful place!  
Lil K was my playmate for the day!  She knows her way around this place and was able to lead me around whether she was being the driver or which direction to go for the next best ride.  I realized, my stomach can no longer handle the round and round and up and down and round and round  and on and on motion that I use to be fine with.  Lil K was fine to do these kinds all by herself, after all, she is a big girl now.  
Her favourite rides were ones with polka dots and preferably pink polka dots.
I did get to ride a big boy ride, Lil K's term for The Vortex!  
We had our picnic lunch where we got to watch the rides.  We shopped in the candy store and topped the day of with ice cream.  We had perfect weather for our play date and I agreed with her when we were walking out the front gate at the end of our day and she stated "I had a great day!"  I did too!