Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Out & About in August

It's been a month of National Park hiking, from Glacier to Yoho!  It took until August to have the best National Park hiking conditions this year.  I'm not during very well with running, I'm just not motivated what-so-ever.  I have good intentions but when the time comes, the excuses come very easily to do something else.   I will be doing the CIBC Run for the Cure on October 2nd but that's just 5km and very easy to wing it.  I'm looking forward to September and have an exciting get-a-way planned for the long weekend!  STAY TUNED!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

Only twenty-seven minutes after driving away from my front door, I arrive in the parking lot of the new Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park which officially opened on August 9th, 2011.  I wanted to be out in the sunshine getting exercise but once again I didn't want big mountains or a big drive.  I printed off a map to bring along but didn't need it as the signage throughout the Park is excellent.  This is the lay of the land!
The trail types are varied! 

dirt trails 
paved bike paths
shaded tree lined walk-ways
train tracks to cross
it's a blooming place
trail follows the Bow River
a path runs parallel to the train tracks
it's best to obey all signs
protected barn and land
General Store
The trials were busy with bikers but there were lots of hikers too.  I covered 12.5 km and there is still lots more to see that I am saving for another day.  What a wonderful legacy from the Harvie Family.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Big Mountain Break

All week I was feeling I needed a break from hiking and from being deep into the middle of the big mountains.  I could handle rolling ridges but I didn't want to be on them and would be quite content to just look at them.  The plan for awhile was to spend today with Ms M and with the stellar forecast, we picked Forgetmenot Pond as our day away place.  It was right where I needed to be.  We arrived at 10:30am to secure a spot (smart thinking that was) and spent the first couple of hours catching up and catching rays.
The duck was catching too!
Our first course!
After some wine and cheese, and before the main course, I did the 20 minute loop around the Lake and this was the view from the far end.  It was just after this spot and by the bridge, I ran into a wedding party only to find out some of the guests were hiking friends.  We hugged, we chatted, they were waiting for the bride, time was passing and the groom was pacing.  Ms M and I were pacing too, but we were pacing our courses and seeing as we were ready for our next one, I carried on!
We enjoyed our main course, then snacks and finally desert.  By this time the afternoon was turning into dinner time, we had enough sun, we were caught up with each others lives, so we packed up, headed out and drove home!  Today was exactly what I needed in every way!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A New Direction (Day 3)

A new day means a new direction!  Instead of following that same path that leads to Lake O'Hara, we headed off in the opposite direction towards Lake McArthur.  The trail sign for this Lake is literally right outside the entrance to the little Hut.  Right away, the landscape looks different. The sun is not fully above the mountains so still casts a shadow over us.
The trail is well defined!  
Even though we are headed in a new direction and the landscape looks different, there are still colorful lakes.  Schaffer Lake still had some snow to one side.  It was such a pretty, peaceful, place to be early in the morning.
But McArthur Lake was even much more so!  We owned it for quite some time!  For the best photo opportunities of McArthur, well into the afternoon would have been better but I'm pretty sure you would have to share the space and my testament to that is from the number of folks we passed heading up when we were heading down.  This was actually our long, late breakfast spot.  Sights and sounds of avalanches kept us entertained.
The sun dancing on the Lake monopolized our photography time.  
After our late breakfast, and after the sun's dancing performance, we took the low route for our return trek.  We passed by this protected area and wondered what was down there.  One Warden did tell us, it's not the greatest place to be as it is not maintained, there are lots of trees and it is closed in with no views.  I still wondered though!
We took the Big Larch Trail down to Mary Lake which is one of the little colorful lakes we saw beside Lake O'Hara from high above yesterday.  This was the last lake to see this weekend but it wasn't enough for me.
I took one last stroll along Lake O'Hara, for one last view, for one last photo from a new direction.  
The only thing left to do now was to go back to LeRelais and wait for the bus to take us the 11km back to my car.  No more searching for those elevens like yesterday but on my way to the bus, I still did happen to find an eleven.  At $700 to $800 per night, staying in a Cabin here is out of my league.
I took a few minutes to reflect on how much I have been enjoying the new direction my hiking and mountain experiences have taken me.  Right now I feel this new direction in adventuring shines brighter then all others!
Thank you to Happy Hiker for this photo!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

High Hopes (Day 2)

After yesterday's teasing views from a short hike around Lake O'Hara, Larry Stanier's slide show,  reaping the reward of a luck of the draw and sensing my stars were aligned when I saw them all lined up in the sky, then I shouldn't be out of line to have high hopes and great expectations for today!    No car pool meet up today, no driving to a trail head, just walk out the front door and within a few minutes I already start feeling like I'm at a higher level!

My first photo of the day!  Lake O'Hara at 8:30 am!
We followed the east side of Lake O'Hara to the far end and then began the climb up which took us past a few smaller lakes before reaching Lake Oesa.  This was going to be one of those days where there are reflections everywhere.  We took our first big break here before hiking around and to the far side of the Lake.
Once around Lake Oesa and to the far side of it, we had a direct view right up to Abbot Pass and could see the Hut sitting there blending in.  I watched a group of five work their way across the scree slope to the right side and pick their way up the snow instead.  From blue at the far side to green on the near side, the lakes are so gorgeous!
Then totally green!  Shortly past Lake Oesa is Lefroy Lake.
Our ledges of choice for today were the Yuckness Ledges.  The trail was marked with the odd cairn and yellow elevens on blue squares which were not always right under your nose.  This was a fun area to hike, with a little bit of hands on here and there.
No doubts here of not being out of line for having high hopes for the day.   Being on the edge of the Ledge gave us a great vantage point of Lake O'Hara down below.  That little light green open space in the trees is where Elizabeth Parker Hut is.  See the other little lake to the left of Lake O'Hara.?  That's Mary Lake which we will be beside tomorrow.
We spent lots of time up on Yuckness Ledges looking down at lakes now it was time to spend time beside a lake, this time Opabin Lake which was yet a totally different color then all previous lakes.  We picked out our friends who were up playing on the glacier and watched another group disappear over the back side of it at the pass.
Opabin Lake was a nice place to relax and reflect!
After reflecting, relaxing and refueling, we carried on as we still had lots of ground to cover and lakes to see. Happy Hiker makes her way across a bridge to the west side where we followed West Opabin to yet more lakes.
We took a detour up to Opabin Prospect and found a spot where we could capture the three lakes all in one photo.  From here we could see our home away from home was still a long way off in that little light green opening.
It has been a long day and we revamped our plan of attack and decided to work our way home!
I picked this one as my summit shot with Lake O'Hara below me, Wiwaxy Peak behind me and Cathedral Mountain on the left.  You can see the switchbacks on my right that lead up to Wiwaxy Gap. Standing right there in that spot, on the edge of that slab, at that moment in time, fulfilled my high hopes!
Once back down to lake level, we had a lovely stroll towards The Lodge to fill our bottles from the porcelin fountain first then waundered through the meadow back to the front door of the Hut where we called it a hiking day and I turned off my GPS.  What a joy, no worries of a long drive home after alomost eleven hours of hiking.  It was time for wine, dinner and chatting with the other hut guests. Even though we are now at meadow level, looking up at the mountains that surround us, I feel like I am as high as they are.  As the sun sets and the stars come out, I notice how the stars are aligned!  Maybe mine will be tomorrow!  


Friday, August 19, 2011

Luck of the Draw (Day 1)

I have to be one of the luckiest girls on earth!  I got to reap the reward of someone else's luck of the draw.  If this evening was any kind of indication of what I was in for, for the next two days, then I am in for a treat of a lifetime in paradise!

The Elizabeth Parker Hut which is an Alpine Club of Canada Hut, is located in the middle of an alpine meadow just a 15 minute walk from Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, just over the Alberta border into British Columbia.  I have been to this area twice in the past but only on day trips.  

From mid June to early October, only 24 people a night get to stay at the Hut and those people are chosen through a lottery that takes place in the previous November.  It was Happy Hiker's (who is the other luckiest girl on earth) friend whose reward we got to reap! The luck of the draw went in her favour but timing was not in her favour.  We were happy to relieve her of her lottery winnings!

The anticipation was killing me and I was thankful today finally arrived. We had a two hour drive to the parking lot, an 11 kilometer bus ride from the parking lot to the center of this Unesco World Heritage Site and then a 600 meter hike to my home away from home for two nights.  When I rounded the last corner this was my view!  It was more beautiful then I imagined it would be!  We quickly claimed our bunk spot and then we were right back out the door to enjoy an early evening hike around Lake O'Hara. 
We found a bench with a view, then cracked open the wine and made a toast!
The timing of our hike was in our favour for reflections!
After the hike, after the views, after the wine and after the reflections we attended the slide presentation by Larry Stanier at the Le Relais Day Shelter.  While we are no where even remotely close to being capable of experiencing the adventures that he does, we certainly would be seeing lots of the same sights that he showed us.  It was a taste of what we were in for and that just increased my level of anticipation.
Lake O'Hara and Elizabeth Parker Hut take up a very small part of this vast area in Yoho.  Tomorrow we will venture off and seek out many of these other colorful lakes.  Until then, this is to be my first time sleeping in an Alpine Hut!