Monday, October 31, 2011

Good-Bye October Hello November

Wait! Stop!  Hold on!  Let me catch up!  This year is going too fast!   

Out & About in 2011 below shows ground coverage for the month of October with the "Total" tallies being just for the month.  Comparing my year-to-date digits to those of last year for this time, there is no way 2011 will top 2010!  I may be competitive within myself but that is as far as it goes!
Speaking of being competitive, I will take and own being the leader any way, any chance, any how I can get it!  As it stands at the end of the day on October 30th, I placed #1 on Peakery for Canada for the number of peaks summited in the past 30 days.  No, I am not competitive!  I do need to clarify that many summiteers are not members of Peakery and many summiteers summited peaks that are not listed on Peakery.  But, hey, like I said, I will take being #1, if only for a fleeting moment.
November, please take your time in passing!  
I may not get the opportunity to be out and about as much this November, but will try and make up for it with quality.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011


.....and loving it!

There is not a whole lot of information on the world wide web for Isola Peak.  Even the Peak's name does not appear on this BaseCamp Map.  How on earth did someone ever even come across this place?  It's isolated!  It's desolated!  It's unknown!  While all this may sound like negatives and deterrents to some, for us those descriptions are everything we love about adventuring out there and we embrace this and welcome these conditions with open arms!
Yes, we are adventures and explorers and hard core but oh my gosh, we were so thankful and grateful that this bridge was in place right at the trail head and we were spared the dreadful feat of crossing the frigid Livingstone River.
The first five kilometers or so were uneventful, non-picturesque so non-photo worthy.  It was a logging road that afforded us an easy, quick-paced initial ascent.  Then the view opened but the sky didn't!  We had a short time frame to enjoy the view then the snow started!  I was able to get a shot of some great rock colors and formations.
We took a short break on the grassy slope to fuel up and gear up before tackling this rocky section.
Many rocks along the rocky section caught my eye and I was amazed to see these two laying side by side.  There would be no shadow shots today nor reflection photos!  Our route didn't pass by lakes and the sun only shone as our adventure wrapped up but  I found something new to add to the mix, a mirror image!
We made it out into the wide open space!
 The wind howled and the snow blew but that wasn't going to stop us.  
We were so close at this point, I could taste the summit!
It tasted sweet!
We had no view at all at the top, it was a blizzard with white-out conditions.   We spent about twenty minutes here taking fun group photos and then we aimed to where we knew the gentle ridge down on the other side was and we followed it to a spot in the trees with shelter and took our late lunch break.  We did find some unique views on the way down!  This tree for example!  This was the only tree amongst thousands that looked like this.
Thank you Mother Nature for this beautiful sight...
...and an even bigger thank you for this view!  This was the best view of the day!  Our hike was ending, the sky turned blue and the sun came out.  It was a  stunning autumn day at the trail's end.  
Our energy is spent and we remain quiet as we head towards the vehicle but I know there are always unspoken words and I let my mind wonder to what you all might be thinking and I once again take the liberty of putting my own words in your mind and mouth!
There was no I-solo today!  Today was all about WE summit Isola together! It didn't matter that we had no views at the summit, or that the first five kilimeters were boring, or that we got caught in a blizzard, any time I am with my friends exploring out there in these isolated places, I feel like I am "on top of the world!"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Experiencing the Unexpected

At the trail head, we could see our destination off in the distance, it's that brown lump on the right side of the photo, known as Belmore Brown!  We expected a very vanilla experience of  following a creek, hiking through some trees, switch backing up the side, having our lunch at the summit then doing the same thing all over again in reverse back to the car.

.....and so our day begins.....
We did follow a creek and we did hike through some trees. 
We got closer to see our destination and it was very vanilla looking underneath the moon!
Then!  The view opened up and the dusting of snow took away that very vanilla look and presented an appearance of stunning stripes on the slopes.  We could see the trail that led to the top but decided to save that for our descent and instead challenge ourselves.
Not expecting to be taking a direct route to the top, I was thankful I had my new boots on with lots of support and grip to trudge and slip and slide up along this steep slope through the scree and talus.   I took a moment and looked around me, then realizing we were in for no more vanilla today!
When I reached the little saddle and looked over, I was so surprised!  This was not what I was expecting today to look like.  The view was amazing.  I was also surprised to see such a big cornice formed already and it is only mid October.
We reached the top and before doing anything else I had to have my summit shot, shot!  This was a very rewarding place to be with not a whole lot of effort.  We had a 360 degree view for our dining spot.
Unexpectedly for two, this was also a birthday celebration spot!
After our celebration and  lunch and photo opportunities, we parted ways with two heading back and the rest of us carrying on to explore.  The conditions in certain areas looked O.K. to do this.  Continuing along the ridge in the other direction, we had a great view back at the summit of Belmore Brown where we just were.
We reached another little peak which would be my high spot for the day.  We thought this would be it for us but my friends tested out the conditions for ascending another high point and as it turned out they were able to go even higher.
While they were experiencing another unexpected high, I tried for some artistic scenery shots of the snow swirls.  I have been doubting my camera's capabilities lately but when I see that it gives me this, I have to give it a little more credit.
I love mountain tops that look like this!
They descended their slope, I descended mine and we joined up half way down.  Then it was back into hiking through some trees, following a creek and the final little ascent to the trail head.  Even after seven and a half hours over eleven kilometers and seven hundred and thirty-nine meters of elevation, we all still had lots to say!
Days when we get to experience the unexpected are such a big bonus!  Even more so when the reward far exceeds the effort!  It was the unexpected today that made me feel like I was "on top of the world!"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Road Trip

Yesterday was a road trip in one direction, today I hit the road again but in the opposite direction.  My preference would have been to be out and about enjoying fresh air and exercise but I am leaning towards the chicken side of hiking on my own in lesser populated play ground areas.  Short strolls with the safety of my car close by would suffice for this Thanksgiving Monday.
I heard there was lots of snow in certain areas of the mountains so I went to check for myself.   I could see it off in the distance, the distance that I was aiming for.   My timing was perfect taking a road trip today, the sky was blue, traffic well there was none to speak off and the tree colors seemed to be peaking!
This is what one sees on a Rocky Mountain type of Thanksgiving road trip!
There were many picnic areas to choose from and I picked this one to enjoy my lunch.  
Ah!  So this is the snow they spoke off!  
I didn't venture far seeing as this trail was closed due to bear activity!  
Rocky Mountain Autumn!
With scenery like this, I am very thankful to be able to just hop in my car and go and take it all in.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Leaving Them Behind

That's the mountains I'm talking about!  I had enough of them yesterday!  I wanted to get away from the city today so headed in the opposite direction and left the Rockies behind in favour of the bald ass prairie!  I woke with a headache this morning and this was the culprit, a chinook-like sky and I felt the chinook-like winds as I tried to keep my car on the road.  I could see the mountains lining the horizon and disappearing the further I drove.
Alberta should be nick-named "Big Sky Country" like Montana!  
The sky went on forever as did the bald ass prairie.  
Although in some areas it wasn't as bald as others.  
A farmer being creative!
Being out on this country drive reminded me of when I lived "back home".   Thanksgiving time was a popular time for searching out the red colors and the pumpkin people and viewing all the homes decorated in the festive autumn theme.   While we don't have the reds here, nor the pumpkin people nor the home decorations, I still love being out for the country drive, amongst the golds, and enjoying the scenery.  It brings back memories and brings me "back home" to back then, for a little while.  I found a beautiful country road where I stopped to have a few moments behind my sunglasses before turning around and heading home, back to reality!
A touch of "back home" will always be with me!  
After a couple of hundred kilometers, I'm happy to be home, between the Rocky Mountains and the bald ass prairie.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Master of Indecisiveness

For a couple of days before hand, then as I lay my head on the pillow last night, including heading out the door this morning and for the whole drive to Lake Louise my summit goal for the day was to be Mount Saint Piran.  But from the moment I stood facing Lake Louise that goal changed and an upside down kind of day began!  I now gave myself an option of either summiting a Mount or a Hive and I have marked my choices and would make the decision as I went along.  Yes, I did mark my choices, remember I just said this was turning into an upside down kind of day!
I programmed my 60CSX and went on my way.  Before even leaving the Lake, I saw a summer reflection, autumn colors and winter frost, yet the warmth felt like spring!  
I veered off up the trail that said Lake Agnes this way and very quickly found myself by myself.  It didn't take long before I arrived at Mirror Lake.  There was one of my possible destinations mirrored in Mirror Lake.  I decided I would make my final decision on either the Mount or the Hive by the time I reached the next junction.
I couldn't decide by the junction and as Mother Nature was calling, I choose to head to Lake Agnes and answer her call first.  I arrived only to find myself by myself.  I hung out for awhile and had a snack and to see if others would arrive but no luck.   I scouted out my options, saw no snow anywhere, but seeing as I was solo, I still needed to make a safe choice.  Whew, I made a decision!   As I eyed the Devil's Thumb, I would pass on the Mount, go for the Hive and check out the trail to the Thumb while I was up there.  How did the Thumb get caught up in the mix!  How could it not with an inviting view like this!
I circumnavigated Lake Agnes and was thinking the whole way how nothing was black and white today.   I guess when you are solo you can play that kind of game of winging it as you go.  If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the Lake Agnes Teahouse.
What was black and white to a certain extent, was that today was full of color.  Although one flower looked like it was ready to give into winter frost and the other beamed brightly like a mid summer day. 
I made it to the Big Beehive!  I was Queen of the Hive!  Once again, I found myself by myself!  I enjoyed the view, took some photos, had lunch and tried to decide where to go next.  The Devil's Thumb was close by and it has been on my to-do list for this year.  Decisions!  Decisions!

While owing the Hive, I noticed these off in the distance.  I wasn't able to figure out from my GemTrek what they were! Hhhhmmm!  After 30 minutes of ownership, I packed up and hit the trail towards the Thumb, but very soon into hitting it, I turned back deciding this wasn't going to happen today and certainly not solo. 
The Hive would be my high spot for the day and I was content with that but I certainly was not happy with the little distance I covered so far.  I made another decision, I would followed the Highline Trail and join up with the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail and carry on to see the Death Trap.  Along the way, there was autumn and winter right in front of me.  
I reached the trail that heads to the Abott Pass Lookout and the Death Trap and my decision was made for me!  This was the end of the trail for me today!  It would be all down hill from here so after another thirty minute break, I went down hill.  Figuratively and literally!  I covered about 11 kms so far and I was feeling tired and had about 6 kms back to my car.
I landed at the Lake and took a break to enjoy the view and the warmth from the sun.
I watched others who knew exactly what their agenda for the day was and I enjoyed watching them enjoy their adventure.  At this point I was very happy with the outcome of my indecisive day and realized I made wise decisions all along.  I got to enjoy peacefulness,  scenery, all four seasons and lots of color.  
There are not many more days left this year that one will be able to enjoy the Lake Louise area coat-free, boot-free, hat-free, snowshoe-free, mitts-free!  While I enjoyed visiting Lake Louise today under these ideal autumn conditions, I love the area just as much when it is a winter-wonderland!  I'll be back to see the area in all that glory!