Friday, December 31, 2010

Snowshoe On Top of the World

Ever since hiking on Sunshine Meadows a couple of summers ago, I really wanted to see what the meadows looked like in the winter.   Along with that, I really wanted to end 2010 doing something I love to do and being in a place I love to be.  How fitting then, to "Snowshoe On Top of the World" today!

This area is on top of the Banff Sunshine Ski Hill, and borders Alberta and British Columbia.  You need to take the Gondola to Sunshine Village then ride the Standish Chairlift even higher and this is where you end up!  Picture perfect!
As soon as we arrived, and I looked around to where I could see forever, I smiled and that smile was still there when I walked through my door at home tonight and I am sure I went to sleep smiling!
While there were snowshoe trails all over the place, the meadow is so large, we went for uncharted territory finding new, fresh, untouched powder, all within a safe boundary.  It was fun to be in the company of folks who have never experienced this before.  They were tentative at first, they watched and then it didn't take long before they joined in and embraced the snow!
After playing around for awhile, we then followed a trail up a little hill, around a big corner and down a little hill to the quinzhee entrance.  Around the whole inside was a ledge to sit on.    It felt cozy, warm and oh so quiet.  We shared a toast to our experience with hot chocolate and cookies.  The quinzhee still needs a little more work but that will come when more snow comes.
The sky had that late afternoon look as we crossed over wide open spaces.  We saw the attendants close the chairlift so we knew we had the slope to ourselves.   Instead of taking the chairlift down to the Village to hop the Gondola, we went for a long, winding, fast, crazy carpet joy ride.  On any given day, the Gondola runs until 5:30pm with an exception of Fridays, it runs until 10:00pm.
I took one last look back at where I had been and could not believe it when I saw Mount Assiniboine light up the sky.  That Mountain wasn't visible all day.  That sight reenforced my smile and reaffirmed that I want to come back again one day!
I feel fortunate getting to do what I love to do, where I love to do it,  and for having an amazing last day of a year that was amazing!

Curiosity!

Ever since hiking Sunshine Meadows on July 25, 2009, I have been curious to know what the area looks like covered in snow!  
Today I will find out!  
Stay Tuned!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Final Tally

Like the chart title says, I covered lots of ground in 2010!  I didn't have any set goal in mind for year end numbers.  These are just the result of wanting to be active and wanting to enjoy life and live it large.
I went into the year with the intentions of tracking distance covered when I was out and about doing one thing or the other, just for curiosity sake.  As autumn approached, I became curious as to how much elevation I completed so far this year, so I went back through all my hiking and snowshoeing trips and came up with the number.  I was totally shocked and did a recount two and three times.  I carried on recording the elevation of each trip for the balance of the year and also added 100 meters for tomorrow which is an approximate number for the trip I have planned.  While elevation numbers are not something I go after even though I do like to go higher, it is more about the scenery and the company.  I think, though, next year I will try and keep some kind of better record then what I have posted here.
     

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Terrific Tubing Today

Sometimes I question my sanity when I make certain choices in my life!  A year ago, when I first read about tubing at Mt. Norquay, I thought that might be a fun thing to try.  It was a passing thought at the time, never to be thought of again until I came across the website again a few weeks ago.  I added it to my to-do list for while I was off on Christmas vacation.  Well, here it is Christmas vacation, and here I am tubing!  Am I insane or what?
I arrived for the 11:00 am start!  I wanted to be one of the first on the tracks and I wanted to beat the crowd.  I got two runs in (is that what they are even called runs?  Maybe they are called slides or could they be tubes), anyway, I got two in and then the line ups started.  You can take the easy way up sitting in your tube which gets attached to a tow rope as you can see on the right or you can walk up as you can see in the  middle of the photo.  There is a designated walking up lane.  I did both a few times each.   It was much quicker to walk up but it was tiring, this was steeper then it looks.   I just wanted to get back on that tube as quick as possibly and speed down the hill.  Am I insane or what?
This time I took the tow rope up.  
When I tried to paint a picture of what this event might be like, I had hoped to be able to get four runs in and I would be happy with that.  Today I did seven!  The first five were roughly between 49 to 50 km/hr and I went down straight.  The last two were over 51 km/hr and I had asked the guy to spin me and give a good push.  Am I insane or what?
After just over an hour, I was content and felt fulfilled.  Even though I had paid for two hours, one was enough.  I got my pack from the car, sat on the deck with the fire place to my side and enjoyed my lunch watching others enjoy themselves.
As I ate and watched, I questioned my sanity, again on what I just did!  I thought about it and was able to come up with an answer to all this questioning!  I have concluded that I am sane!  I love life and live it large!  Now!  What next!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Year.....

...on top of the world!

I found a great song by Tai Cruze that I fit to photos from my favourite adventures of 2010!

it's called

HIGHER

video

I am new to this video thing and it only looks good if you view it on the small size.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finally!

FINALLY!
I THOUGHT IT WOULD NEVER GET HERE!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What It Takes!

What does it take for you to get into the spirit of this holiday season?  I am sure if I asked everyone of you, the responses would be general to a certain extent, yet each with an added touch of uniqueness.   My mission for today was to find that spirit and let it surround me and fill me and lift me!  The place where I knew I could make this happen was snowshoeing to Chester Lake!

Cold means holiday season to me!
-29 Celsius, -20 Fahreheit
Decorated trees, even if it is just with snow!
lots of snow
Wrapped presents are nice but not necessary!
pretty red bows
Festive attire makes me smile!
my holiday hat
Spending time with friends and family!
 my friends
We were the first to be on the snowshoeing trail to Chester Lake this morning.  The trail was covered in more new snow that sparkled because the sun shone so bright from the clear blue sky.  We worked our way up through the forest, across the meadows, past the lake and on up to the Elephant Rocks then actually up onto the biggest elephant rock of all to have lunch.  We owned this rock for about 30 minutes in the sunshine.  Thanks to, (O.K. I am going to have to find a name for you),  for lending a hand with our ascent onto and descent off of this rock.  We made a quick trip back to the car taking the odd detour here and there trying to run through deep powder.  By now I am feeling totally surrounded, filled and lifted!

It was still early enough that we topped off the day around the table sharing snacks, drinks and laughs.  This only added to lifting my spirits, and much to my surprise, even my holiday hat felt it!
There is one last thing for me that has to happen before the full effect of this special time of year can take place!  I have to believe!   This is my new tree decoration.  At the end of today, feeling the way I felt, how could I not believe!
believe
Now it's your turn!  What does it take for you to get into the spirit of this holiday season?  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

OH JOY!

I needed some joy today, so went searching for it!  I should have known I would find it in the mountains! I always do!
I needed to embrace today, make it worthwhile and come away being thankful.  I mapped out a plan on Friday night that meant getting up and out the door early.  I was on the road at 6:45am, in the pitch black, hoping to get to Canmore to watch the sun come up which was to happen at 8:30am.  I arrived with not a minute to spare and ran up the hill to the high spot to watch the show.  It was so pretty and just what I hoped for!
In one direction I watched the sunrise show and in the other direction I watched the alpenglow show.  Actually, I was surrounded by alpenglow! I have a new appreciation for this optical phenomenon now that I know what it is and it actually has a name.  
When the show was over, I headed further west into Banff National Park to explore Cascade Ponds.  I didn't know this little place existed until I checked out my maps last night.  This was where I found "joy" as you can see in the top photo.  It was just under a 2km loop around the Lake, crossing two bridges, through meadows, by lots of picnic tables, all surrounded by mountains.
It was still only 9:45am and already I am in that place I wanted my plan to take me.  Then I headed even further west along the Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon.  I had the Canyon to myself on the way in.
The Upper Falls area was absolutely gorgeous looking so frozen and so blue.  
I was surprised to see these guys as I was the only car in the lot.  I watched them for awhile as they demonstrated how to embrace today!  I found myself thinking this looked so hardcore, yet I would love to try it one day!  Am I hardcore enough?
On the way back to the trailhead, I passed a few dozen folks just heading in. My timing was perfect for getting out of there and getting on to my lunch destination.  I found a spot along the road by Vermillion Lakes to enjoy my tuna salad on 12 grain bread sandwich, red pepper slices, cherubs, mini honey mandarins, raspberry tea and of course the scenery.  The typical photo from here is probably Mount Rundle on its own but I liked this one with Rundle on the far left and a reflection in the middle.
An opening in the bushes caught my eye on the drive back out along that road.  I never thought that tree stumps and shrub reflections would be a photo op and worthy of my time but when I was out to appreciate every little thing, I could not pass this by.
Another place I discovered on my map was Fenland Trail.  It's just off the west entrance to Banff.  It's a 2km loop through a forest, across a couple of bridges and a portion of it follows along a river.  This could be prettier in the summer, so I will come back then.
Being so close to Banff, I wanted to check out a B&B along Cave Avenue at the other end of town, that I thought I might like to stay at one night when I could get the last minute deal.  It looked nice but it was just "oh" and not "WOW".   

I always feel welcome when I'm in the mountains!  It's almost like I belong there!   I knew I would accomplish what I set out to do this morning!  By now I was pleasantly depleted and full of joy!  I was ready to call it a day and hit the highway.
sign on cabin door at Johnston Canyon

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Time to Celebrate

With all the snowfall and the fall in temperatures the last while, and seeing that we're into December, it's time to celebrate because I am getting into the Christmasy spirit!  I knew this would be the time to start, being with fun friends out in my playground snowshoeing to Rummel Lake.  


This view right from the get-go was the blue sky blanket of white I was hoping for.  Rummel Lake is not as well known as other trails to lakes in Kananaskis.  There is no parking lot, no official trailhead and no signs saying this is it.  You just pick a safe place to park on the side of the road near the turn off to Mount Engadine Lodge and head up through the forest and find your way.
At first the trail winds through a young forest where the trees and still short enough that every time we looked back the views were amazing.  Then we reached the dense, tall forest section where I felt a dramatic drop in temperature.  I checked my thermometer and it told me it was now -22 Celsius (-7.6F).  We picked up speed here to make our way to the Lake and reached it in just under two hours.  I packed on every layer I had, had a quick bit to eat and then took advantage of being at my playground. 

While, we are not really on a summit, I still wanted a summit shot, after all, we did cover a significant amount of elevation, (for an early season snowshoe and first snowshoe of the season for some of my friends), to get here.
I brought some Christmasy Spirit with me to the Lake and decorated this tree.  Now these decorations will have more meaning when I place them on my tree later today.  Note the address for Santa "Top of the World"!  Now that means something to me!
I said "I like Rummel"!   I didn't say "I like to rumble"!
After eating, decorating and rumbling, we had a snowshoe race across the frozen lake.  That warmed us up, then we packed up and headed on our way.  Once again, it was on the quicker side through the forest until we got to the open area.  We had a great view of Spray Lake from here.  This was also where it was open enough to find the powder and play.
Even though I ran quickly down the hill through the powder, I wasn't doing that to get the trip over with.  I never want these things to end!  It did end early though, which meant we had time to continue celebrating elsewhere, where we could sit down, in warmth and have a drink and a snack.  
Today really did it for me!  I now want to put my Christmas tree up, go Christmas shopping, play Christmas music and write Christmas cards which just happen to reflect about being "on top of the world"!  I certainly was today!