Saturday, December 31, 2011

and lastly..... 2011 play time in the mountains has come to an end!  No matter what, I was going to be out there today.  I knew I would snowshoe and I had some places in mind but the road conditions would be the decision maker of where I would end up.  I am still working on getting my winter driving confidence back, I have made headway but I'm still not 100% yet.  

The roads decided I would be snowshoeing the Elk Pass Trail and I agreed with that decision.  I arrived early, only two other vehicles arrived today before me and they were X-C skiers.  I was glad to see that as I like to be first and I was the first (and as it turned out, and the only all day) snowshoer.  Heading in I took the route dedicated to snowshoers.  There was a trail blazed but it was partially filled in with brand new snow.  I'm so happy with how this photo of my route up the hill turned out.  The sun's rays show instead of a bunch of purple dots.  
I kept stopping in the forest section, to look around in amazement at the beauty of all the snow.  
I definitely know I am a winter person!  
Lots of views like this today!
What are you starring at?
I stopped at the picnic table for lunch.  That's where the whisky jack joined me.  There wasn't even a breeze and I was able to spend a little time basking in the sun.  Don't ask what happened next in this photo.  I swear there was only tea in my thermos, even though it is New  Year's Eve!
I trekked through the meadow for a while on the way back, then worked my way out to the official trail.  I followed my tracks back until the hydroline and then made a bee line straight down in the powder back to the parking lot.
My car is just over this little hill.
I packed my snowshoes into the car, called it a year then hit the highway to home to where I could have something other then just tea!  It was very fitting to say goodbye to 2011 in a way that has become such a big part of my life, being out and about! 

GOOD-BYE 2011 !    

Friday, December 30, 2011

Free & Easy!

Not me!  My day was!  I was given the opportunity to enjoy today away from the office so took full advantage of this free day and escaped the city to get one last true hike in before the end of 2011!  I wanted something easy that wasn't far away, so I could save myself for New Year's Eve.  I picked Prairie Mountain.  I did escape the city, but thanks to the telephoto lens on my SX40HS, I was still able to get up close and almost personal.  I think I see my co-workers through the tower window!!!

This was my sixth time up this mountain, so by now, it would be a challenge to take unique photos from the ones I already have in my collection.   This would be a good chance to practice zooming in really close which I could never do before.  The SX40HS has a great stabilizer.  This is Calgary's down town core.  The image seems a bit grainy to me but then again, I am taking this photo from approximately 80 kms away.
The gas flare in this zoomed in shot looks very clear. 
This photo, zoomed in 35 times, taken from the summit of Prairie Mountain, of the Moose Mountain Lookout is crystal clear.  I passed two very slow fellows on the way to the summit and also two passed by me on their way back down.  I was glad to own the summit for awhile so I could play and practice.
I checked out this quinzee.  The entrance is on the far side.   It was quite a size, much taller then me.  I'm sure it was lots of work to build.  I tried to see inside but the angle was such that I couldn't without sliding down into it. 
The last photo I took was my summit shot.  This summit shot pose is unique to Prairie Mountain.  I like to think of it as my summit siesta shot.  No time for a siesta today though!
As you can see from the digits below, it was quick and it was easy!  I was finished by lunch time, so checked out Elbow Falls, had lunch in my car then headed back to the city.  I thoroughly enjoyed this free and easy day!  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Tops

While 2011 is not over with yet and I still have two more days of adventuring left, what I have planned for those two days will not top what I already experienced this year so I feel confident in picking my "2011 Tops" right now.  It wasn't difficult to pick out five top adventures for 2011.  I didn't go for the most scenic, or the longest or the highest.  Neither did I pick adventures where I had the most fun.  I went for treks that stood out because they meant something special or because of their uniqueness.  They are listed here and are not in any particular order:

My Utah trip in May was tops in every way possible and that makes it hard to name what was most outstanding.  I will go with my day hiking the circumference of Dead Horse Point State Park.  I soloed today and owned the 14 kilometers except for 15 minutes or so when I helped a few lost souls.  I had many moments on this day where I had to pinch myself, I couldn't believe where I actually was nor seeing what I was actually seeing! It was empowering to be adventuring solo and finding my way in a brand new place in another country!

Day 2 of our three days at Elizabeth Parker Hut in mid August stood for everything I have ever wanted in adventuring in the mountains.  I got to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning in a place where I could almost reach out and touch the mountains and which was only five minutes from a trail that leads to one of the most beautiful places ever. 

When I think of "over the moon" (title for this blog post) I think of the phrases "more than expected", "above and beyond", "WOW"!  This day in late July was exactly all those and more.  It stands out because: it was a place I wanted to return to, I got to share the day with a friend before she moved away, the weather was perfect, we pretty much owned the trail, and I got to meet the Copelands.
This one-way hike in Glacier National Park opened a new door for me, for getting away from the tourist trails.  This day in early August stands out because it was full of a way more adventure then we had anticipated and I love adventure!   I felt so high on top of the world, I was sure I was flying!
I never thought hiking Pigeon Mountain would be a top memorable experience, especially when it was a mountain that I always just looked at passing by thinking boring & blah.  Much to my surprise our hike here in early November far exceeded my expectations, which may have been due to the company, the fresh fallen snow, the blue sky and being one of those days where the rewards far out-weighted the effort.  I was reminded not to judge a book by its cover!

Stay tuned for my year end post!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

With Toys in Tow, Off I Go...

...west to where it looks and feels like winter!

I was watching the weather forecast for Lake Louise all week, praying it would align perfectly for Christmas Eve, and it did exactly that!  After a hectic last little while, I wanted a day to escape to a magical place where I could play.  I arrived early at Lake Louise, just as the ice man finished preparing the ice surface.   The view was dreamy!
This gave me that magical feeling I was seeking!
It felt so good, it felt so right to lace up my skates then etch edges in the ice.  I owned Lake Louise for a little while and for that period of time, I skated, twirled, glided all in sync to my music.  As others began to arrive, I stuck to skating wide circles around the outer circumference.   With 6.5 kilometers on my blades, it was time to switch modes of movement.
I took a brief break, had a snack, altered layers, then for the second time only in my life, hopped onto my X-C Skis.  The flat, wide open, not another single soul around conditions, were conducive for me to safely play.   I still need to work on my standing still on skis skills.
I followed the track which I had to myself, all the way to the end of the Lake.  It was just before noon, so that meant lunch time but not before taking a ski-stop-shot.  If X-C Skiing is going to be part of my play mix, then I need to work on what my ski-stop-shot should be!
While enjoying the view and lunch, the horse drawn sleigh arrived.
This photo of the frozen falls at the end of the Lake was taken with my camera set at full 35 x zoom.
After lunch, I skied the 2.2kms back to where I started then once again take a brief break, had a snack, altered my layers then went in search of more magic inside the Chateau and outside.  What a wonderful find and how perfectly this aligned into my day!
I stepped up to the ice bar!
My desert and treat to top of this magical day, was a glass of Mission Hill Ice Wine.
I stayed at the ice bar for a little while, taking photos, enjoying the fire, chatting up the bartender, and most of all savouring the wine, the scenery and the sculptures.  This has to be one of the most unique ways I have spent Christmas Eve!  I thoroughly enjoyed everything about today, and now feeling fulfilled and content,  I headed home with a permanent smile fixed on my face!  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hanging Out in the Hills

The forecast for today was to enjoy spring-like weather, hang out in the foothills, get caught up, all this while snowshoeing the Deer Ridge Trail in the Sibbald Flats area.  I was also looking forward to another opportunity to test my new camera and to try out my brand new hiker's tripod.  

The plan was to snowshoe but there wasn't enough snow at the trail head to bother strapping them on our feet so we strapped them to our packs.  As it turned out, they remained there the balance of the day.  The first portion was a pretty stroll through the winding aspen forest.  We had a hint every now and then through the trees of where our destination was.  
After taking that last little climb to the right to the out crop, this is where we ended up.  Distinct Mount Yamnuska is visible at the right.  We spent some time here enjoying the wonderful warm wind and.......
....firstly taking our summit shots....
...then just hanging out...
I brought a little bit of home to the hills!  While I brought tree decorations, Happy Hiker brought people decorations.  She is donned in her decoration and the tree is donned in mine.  Mine included a lighthouse of course, Santa in a kilt, a sailboat and a tartan stocking. 
Our lunch was a late one in a sunny spot with a view and little wind.  With not much distance left after lunch and still some daylight minutes to spend hanging out, we wandered around the field by Moose Pond.
The sun was getting low over the foothills creating pretty views through out the meadow and surrounding area.  It was perfect timing to arrive at this site.  The plaque reminded me to be thankful!
While the views from that rocky out crop at the summit were great, I remember as I walked through this meadow, I was thinking how beautiful it was right here and right now.  We enjoyed the spring-like weather, we hung out in the hills, we were all caught up, it was now time to head home!