Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fever Fixer

Yesterday afternoon I felt what I thought was a fever coming on!  It has been awhile since I had one and didn't recognize the signs right away.   I went to bed early last night and got a good night sleep and felt O.K. this morning when I woke.  As the morning went on, I began feeling like I did yesterday, only this time it kept getting worse as each minute passed!   The symptoms were obvious and I knew I better do something before it progressed to something worse!  I bundled up in all my warm layers and drove to the nearest place I could think of that might offer a cure!

A five kilometer hike on Nose Hill was exactly what I needed to cure me of cabin fever!
I'm not use to spending most of my weekend stuck inside!  I like exercise, fresh air, big skies, wide open places!  I found all that this afternoon at Nose Hill Natural Environmental Park.  It was bitterly cold at -23C (-9F) with a windchill of -31C(-24F).   I didn't care!  I was dressed for it!

The sun even broke through the clouds!
It was cold!  The proof is in the hair!
The sundog was amazing!  
I did a cross-country out and back, I mean a cross-hill over and back from 14th St to Shaganappi Trail.  I brought my GPS with me to record my distance but ended up using it to get me on the right track back after I explored through some trees at the far end.  That is a big park and my foot prints were blown away so couldn't follow them out.  Once back on track, I picked up the pace as I fought the wind.

An hour and a half later, I was totally cured of my fever!  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Red Letter Day

Even though this is my weekend for staying in the city, I still need to get fresh air and exercise.  Snow and ice and cold may keep me out of the mountains but it won't keep me off the running trail.  This morning's run was amazing and awesome!  I made sure to get out before the plow came along so I could shuffle along breaking trail in all the brand new snow. I went in a different direction along Nose Creek this time. 

I crossed the red bridge!
I passed by lots of red berries!
Gosh! I'm in red today!
I love runs like today's was!
Even if it was slow, short and slippery!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Larger Than Large

Watch what you ask for, it might come true!  I wished for "large" today but as it turned out, I got more then I wished for.  I got "larger than large"  and that is worthy of being framed!  Beginning under bright sunshine and ending in the dark of the night ,  it was eight hours and forty-one minutes of being high on life.
We had a long list to accomplish that would take us, what seemed like, all over creation.  The obvious ask for the day was to be adventurous and hard core and flexible (more physically then mentally).  Me and my friends answered that ask 100%!
When you are exploring all over creation, you are presented with many signs leading you here, there and everywhere.  We started in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta and ended up in Elk Lakes Provincial Park in British Columbia.  Our first and most important destination was Fox Lake.
Once we figured out the direction we needed to go, we blazed a trail through the deep snow.
Fox Lake was the lunch venue.  We had sunshine, no wind and warm temperatures for our pot-luck cook-out.  I used my Trangia 27-5UL for the first time and it is a keeper.  My contribution was chili which was heated thoroughly in about 10 minutes.  I sampled a little bit of what my friends prepared including cheese fondue, shrimp, yam/potato bake, baklava, and a couple of other dishes.  
Forty-five minutes later, we packed up and hit the trail again as we had lots more ground to snowshoe, but not before taking a few photos of the beautiful area.  I'm on the middle of Fox Lake with Mount Fox behind me.  The far side of the Lake is considered avalanche terrain so we remained well away from there.
Back at the junction, we took a different route for our return and veered up the long and winding Blueberry Hill.  It is a x-ski trail which is packed solid so we hiked instead of snowshoeing along side the tracks until we reached the top.  From the top, the view through the trees was the Upper Kananaskis Lake which was our last destination via bushwhacking down the backside of Blueberry Hill.  It was already 4:30 and we had to be hasty to make sure we reached bottom before dark.  We accomplished the majority in light and the last portion was in darkness.   Two of us went ahead quickly to make a trail to the opening for the others to follow under the light of headlamps.  
We had one kilometer of road to hike back to the trail head and it was the coolest sight seeing mountain silhouettes, the stars coming out and headlamps bobbing along.  I secretly wished for the day to end this way!  When all was said and done, I was pleasantly depleted, yet I still felt like I was "on top of the world!"

Friday, January 21, 2011


For those of you who live in warmer climates or well away from any mountain parks, yet still who have never strapped on snowshoes or skis or winter hiking boots, I would like to share some insight into what kind of homework we do every single time before we even consider venturing out for fun-filled adventures.   
We check the weather forecast for the day for the area where we will be so we know how to dress and what additional clothing we may need for changing conditions.  The weather forecast is important too because if a change is forecast to take place throughout the day then that means the avalanche conditions will change too.
We check the backcountry avalanche report for the specific park the evening before because that is when they post the ratings for the following day.   From this report, we make a judgement on where it is safe to go, yet still once we are out there we continue to assess the conditions as we snowshoe along and remain aware of our surroundings.
Once we know we have a decent weather forecast and find an area that is safe to play in, we check road conditions to make sure the road is passable, there are no closures and if there are any black ice reports on our route.
A phone call to the Information Center takes place as does checking out their website to find out about trail conditions.  This takes place a day or two in advance and also may include a drop in visit on route to our trailhead for any up to the minute changes.
In addition to all this investigative prep work and confirming we are good to go, we still go prepared for anything!  This means going out with a pack that contains all the essentials for example extra cloths, extra food, extra fluids, headlamps, first aid kid, survival kit, maps etc and etc means whatever additional equipment you feel is necessary to bring.

We don't take venturing out lightly!  
We go informed and prepared!  
I've done my homework and I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Heading to the Mountains to Heal the Soul!

I had no intentions of heading to play in the mountains this weekend.  It's cold!  The avalanche risk is high!  I needed a weekend at home to sort through things.  My mind has been full of clutter since the beginning of the new year and I didn't have the greatest start to the weekend! 

When I woke this morning, I felt I needed to get out of the frame of mind I was in.  Two things will do that for me, a run and becoming one with the mountains.  I checked the forecast and it was -20 here in Calgary and just one hour west it was -7 in Bragg Creek.  Bragg Creek isn't quite the mountains but you can see them clearly from there and you can almost reach out and touch them.  

I didn't make it to the mountains!  I was so close but yet so far.  Thirty minutes into my drive, I swerved to avoid vehicles that sped through a yield sign,  I hit ice and the next thing I new I was in the ditch on the other side of the highway facing the wrong way.  

  I need healing and so does my car!
I should have picked a run instead of becoming one with a mountain!

Thank you Justin!  It's nice to know in this gigantic, fast paced growing city, there are folks who care and are compassionate enough to take the time out of their life to lend a hand to someone in need!  I thought I knew what I should do and I think I tried to do what I was suppose to do and thought I was doing it but realized at that moment in time, I wasn't capable of looking after myself!  Thank you again for taking care and looking after what I couldn't!  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Moving Beyond Locked In and Locked On

Locked In and Locked On!  

NO!  I did not get put in jail, but it sure felt like it!  I became locked in my house!  Literally!  After entering my front door and shutting it then turing the deadbolt to lock it, the lock broke off.   No worries, thank goodness I have a back door!  I wanted to see what the lock on the outside of my front door looked like, so I went to exit through the back door and walk around.  As I turned the deadbolt on the back door to open it, the lock broke off.  Yes!  Worries!  I am locked in my own home!  I put in an emergency call to a locksmith and the locksmith came by a few hours later.  I did have my screw driver ready if I got desperate and I do have an emergency exit plan in place if there was an emergency before the emergency visit by the locksmith.

I moved beyond being locked in and locked on!  

I am making the most of this weekend that got off on the wrong foot!  I started another list of links that interest me and may interest you.  I like to follow friends' interest and their progress in their interests.  You will find those under "OTHER BUZZ" on the left side here.  If you are into photography then Barbara B 365  may interest you.   Drop in for a visit!  While I am not a photographer, I enjoy taking pictures and took this one when I got onto the right foot by heading out for a run this afternoon.  My run was short, sweet and sunny!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wondering Wednesday!

It's Wednesday and I'm Wondering!  Will I get to see something like this in May in Moab? I hope so!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

AST1 Day 2 - We WALKED the TALK

When I went to bed last night, I was secretly wishing that our AST1 Day 2 out in the field would be cancelled due to weather conditions.  The forecast was for cold, snow, wind, windchill - everything you don't want for an early morning highway drive or for standing around outside for about 6 hours.  While I love snow and embrace the cold, and have played many times in those conditions and enjoyed it, I was constantly moving and it was play time. Today would not be about play or moving!

I began my very early morning with a knot in my stomach.  Thoughts to myself were just get out the door, then get out of the complex, then get onto the main road, then get to the carpool.    Once there, leave the driving to someone more capable and confident, which I did and the knot very quickly came untied and I knew I would be O.K.  

We reached the Burstall Trailhead.  I bundled up like I have never bundled up before!  We received our equipment which included a transceiver which looked identical to the second one in this link, a probe and a shovel.  We gathered in our group and met our guide Tim Auger.  Now this is a gentleman who has talked the talk and walked the talk time and time again.  He survived a fall and an avalanche and was on an expedition to Mt. Everest. What better guide could one ask for! 

Our first lesson was about transceivers.  We snowshoed out to the middle of Mudd Lake, Tim explained everything to us and then we put our newly learned knowledge to use.  We paired off, took turns hiding our transceivers and then searching.  I was impressed!
In real life, once the transceiver locates the person, then the avalanche probe is put to use.  We learned how to open the probe and the proper probing technique to search for the person.    The probes we practiced with were different lengths, mine was approximately 8 to 9 feet long.
Tim showed us how to dig a snow pit, prep the sides and then how to read and test the layers. In addition to this, three of us helped to prepare for a Rutschblock Test.  While first shovelling then using a piece of rope to saw the snow, I quickly came to realize how physically tiring all this was.
Not only did I help him with his snow pit, we all had to build our own.
He spent a few minutes with each of us at our pit and explained about the different types of snow at the different depths and we examined the snow crystals from each layer through a magnifier.
Now late into the afternoon, it was time to put everything we learned to the test.  We participated in a mock search and rescue at a mock avalanche site.  Each of us was delegated a job, mine being responsible for using the transceiver to locate the three victims (victims being buried transceivers).  I located two and once each was located then the probers did their job probing until they felt the victim and then the shovelers took over to dig up the victim.  This simulation search and rescue was quite an eye opener when you experience the level of mayhem and the speed in which you have to work, all the while staying calm and collected.  I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a part of the real thing!  Something I never ever want to experience!

After six and a half hours of being out in the cold and snow and wind at times, I was so thankful this day was not cancelled!   I came away with a wealth of knowledge and a whole new appreciation for snow and playing in my playground during the winter.  At the end of today, we were presented with our certificate!  
I would like to acknowledge Agent-X for her effort in securing the spots for this course.  Thank you to the Calgary Area Outdoor Council for covering our costs.  I tip my hat to Yumnuska Mountain Adventures especially Chris Miller and Tim Auger.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

AST 1 Day 1 Talk the Talk

Today was Day 1 of AST1 which took place from 9:00am to 4:30pm in the classroom.  I came away feeling overwhelmed with information and understanding why it is so important to have a day in the field to put all this knowledge to practice.

I never dreamed evaluating conditions could be so complicated!  We learned about everything from the types of avalanches, triggers, analyzing terrain, snow layers, to understanding bulletins, group safety, how to search, how to rescue, equipment used to search and rescue and so on and so on and so on.

At the end of the day, after seeing everything we saw today, learning everything we learned today, I came away with an unequivocal confirmation that I don't ever care to be nor do I want to be anywhere near any kind of avalanche terrain and will do everything possible in my power to make sure that I am safe at all times!

Things happen in life!  
Be Prepared!
Tomorrow we Walk the Talk!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New New New

Isn't starting a brand new year suppose to be about lots of new!  While I haven't set any resolutions for this year, I have read all of yours and wish you much success in accomplishing your goals.  I do have plans and hopes and wishes for 2011 though!

One thing new this year will be the way I will track being out and about.  The last couple of years I was impressed with the spreadsheet Adventure Designer used to track her adventure statistics.  The format I used in 2010 wasn't detailed enough or user friendly, so for 2011, I took a few ideas from Adventure Designer's format and designed one of my own.   If you click on the photo, you will get a clear idea of my proficiency in Excel.


The 1st of two plans already in place for this year is to become certified in Avalanche Skills Training 1 (AST 1).  The first of this two day session takes place in the classroom on January 8th and is the theory portion of the training. The following day will be putting the theory to practice out in the field at a location along the Smith Dorrien Highway.  The course is taught by Yumnuska Mountain Adventures through CAOC who will be covering my fee and for which I am very thankful.
The 2nd plan already in place is my big vacation to Moab, Utah in May.  I got hooked on Utah when I was there in May of 2010 and knew it wouldn't be long before I would head back to another area of that State.  This time not only do I want to hike and canyoneer, I also want to add rafting and mountain biking to the mix which will take me to areas outside Moab.    


I have high hopes for 2011!  Literally!  I hope to scramble to the summit of Mt. Temple.  If you click on the photo, you will see I have myself there already!  I shared this hope in a past post.  My hopes are my dreams!

I hope to go car camping and backpacking once the nice weather arrives.  I got a taste of both last year and had such a fun time that I started my own collection of items required for enjoyable experiences.  Thank you to "Agent X" and also to "I am going to have to find a name for you" for opening my eyes to new adventures!   

I wish good health and happiness to my family and friends and to my friends' families and friends.  

The River is Running...

The river is running...
...and I am too!
Today is the last day of my Christmas holidays and my first run since November 7, 2010.  I can't fully commit to saying that I miss running but I can say with conviction that I miss the feeling I get from running.  I craved that feeling this morning and needed my fix so I drove to the Curling Club and did an easy 5.6 km loop from there.  Within 5 minutes of my feet hitting the pavement, I had reached that place!  It felt so good!  It felt so right!