Saturday, November 24, 2012

Missinglink Mountain isn't....

....missing anymore!  
We found it!

With all the park gates closing for the season on December 1st, we agreed to take advantage, one last time, of going into an area that we will be shut out off come next Friday night.  Our choice to celebrate the gate closures was to go in search of Missinglink Mountain!  The plan was to complete a loop which started from the Bighorn Sheep Lookout parking lot.  

We hiked along the 546 to the Texas Gate.    
Next we had 244 meters of cold turkey climbing.
We left the snowshoes in the vehicle for obvious reasons.  Looking above and beyond us, I already knew that today I would surpass 600 kilometers of hiking so far this year.  Trembling aspens lined the south-facing slope.  At 9:30am as we ascended, the sun was already hot on my back and before long I had to double-delayer.    
This herd of elk was an amazing sight and the thundering sound we heard was amazing too as they stampeded across the ridge.  We soon realized by their behavior, we may have been causing them stress, so we quickly moved on with our cold turkey climbing.
As we entered the forest, we had to rely on the GPS, map, compass, written directions and our spidey-sense to find a way to the Missinglink Mountain summit.   In a round-about way, we got to where we wanted to be then made a bee-line for the cairn once we spotted it.   This was the first smaller summit cairn. 
We carried on a bit further and reached this spectacular Inukshuk.  Caboose took a little time and gave the Inukshuk some deserving attention by replacing the fallen rocks.   What a fine moment this was, we finally found the summit of Missinglink Mountain.
My summit shot!
It was cool and windy on the summit so we headed into the trees for shelter, yet still in the sun and still with a view, for our lunch break.  Our main course was topped off with Japanese candy treats, honey mandarins and those giddy-causing rum balls.  
From this point forward, we only relied on the compass and GPS to find our way.  We spent the balance of the day predominantly amongst matchstick pines,  where the sun shone through creating wonderful shadows.  The descent was gentle and once we reached the bottom, we came to a barbed wire fence that we climbed through and then discovered this on the other side!  What on earth is it? UPDATE:  Thank you to Adventure Designer for a link explaining what this is.
We exited the forest a few steps before the Bighorn Sheep Lookout parking lot where our vehicle was.  Well, as you can see from our track on google earth, we did complete a loop although it was not our intended loop.  There was lots of loosing and finding happening today and it was nice to now be heading home.
Just before hopping into the vehicle, I took one last photo of the antenna decoration.  
It summed up today for me.
Bright, cheerful, happy!
The look on this face is exactly how I feel when I feel like I am
"on top of the world"!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Day of Sharing

Within a miserly fifteen minutes of arriving at the Tower Lake & Rockbound Lake parking lot at Castle Junction, the only thought that instantly crept into my mind was "this is going to be one of those days that wasn't meant to be!"  Once everyone realized all the events that were unfolding at the very same second, miserly was not even a word in our vocabulary, instead "sharing" was the only word of importance!  To nix that thought of "a wasn't meant to be day", the sharing began!  In fact the sharing began two hours prior with G-Force sharing in transporting all of us to Castle Junction.   Before we could even leave the trail head, clothes needed to be shared, a bungee cord needed to be past over, batteries needed to be borrowed and water needed to be dispersed to others.  

Sharing continued for the entire day!
We were finally ready to make today happen and hit the trail!  For the first few kilometers, just hiking boots were sufficient but as we climbed the snow very gradually got deeper.  Even before reaching the open area, we gave in and strapped on our snowshoes.  I was surprised at the quantity of snow.  The quality of snow was wonderful but the quantity was a challenge to get through.  We had to share in breaking trail.  

First view of Castle Mountain!
My greatest anticipation for today was reaching the boulder section.  
I absolutely loved this view and spent time here enjoying it.  
I thought this scene was so perfect.  
I want to share it with you! 
Our destination of Tower Lake is just beyond these trees and we are desperate to get there because that means sitting down and dining, both of which we were almost in dire need of.  We were still sharing the task of breaking trail through the snow.
It still amazes me how trees grow out of rocks.  I pondered this as I sat and enjoyed my hot quinoa & apple dish plus my black forest ham & monterey jack cheese wrap.  For desert, a big thank you to Short Stop for sharing your rum balls with us.  The one I picked paired nicely with my chamomile tea.
After lunch, a few of us stayed back to take destination shots.  
I was thankful for no wind, some blue sky and a decent temperature.
Rockbound Lake sits in the center of this photo just above the trees.
My destination shot!
Looking back at Eisenhower Peak from Tower Lake.
After enjoying our extended visit to Tower Lake, we began the trek back.  There were still opportunities for photos such as this view of Helena Ridge.  Due to one of the events that unfolded at the trail head, I would be needing to share some photos  of todays' trip so made sure to take extra.
Leaving the wide open space behind, it was time to head back into the trees.  
The views would become less but the stories shared would become more.  
I find these can be the times when friendships flurish.  
I was ready for this snowshoe trip back to the trial head to be over before it was.  This was a big snowshoe for being the first of the season and I believe we should congratulate ourselves on accomplishing this.   Another accomplishment of the day was that "Lady Osprey" is happy with being "Lady Osprey".   So glad I got to share today with all of you!

I truly enjoyed this "day of sharing".

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Honour at Hoffmann

I never take for granted how fortunate I am to be living the life I am living!  Remembrance Day is a great day to acknowledge that so I never want any November 11th to just slip on by unnoticed.  I make the effort to have something special to show for the day.   If you are a Making Waves follower then you know that for the past few years, I have chosen to spend this day doing something I am passionate about and taking the time along the way to  honour those that have given me the freedom to go and do what I love to do.  A trip up to Mount Hoffmann was our choice place to show that honour this November 11, 2012. 

We had full intentions of snowshoeing today given the snowfall amounts posted for this area.  The closer we got to the trail head, we realized that once again, we would be leaving the snowshoes in the vehicle and turning this into a hike instead.  The first portion was through the trees, and steep in parts (microspikes were needed).  As we neared the end of the forest we bundled up to face the wind and the cold in the wide open spaces that we now had ahead of us.  The snow was ankle deep, less at times, a tad more in an odd few other places. 

The first view as we escaped the forest.
As much as I don't welcome wild wind, I do love how it whips the snow making it look like meringue on a lemon meringue pie.
Most of the elevation was done by now and there was just a small amount left in the open area before we reached the summit.  We could see a cairn at the top but had to get around this short rock band first.
The Mount Hoffmann summit marker turned out being an Inukshuk.
Close up of Inukshuk.
The first order of business was to take care of our summit shots.  I do have my poppy on but it doesn't stand out very well, but remembering why we are hear really stood out and was at the forefront of my thoughts.
I took a moment!
Honour at Hoffmann!
Lest we forget!
It was very cold and windy at the summit, so we headed down the backside of the mountain and found a wonderful sheltered spot that faced the sun and spent some time here dining and enjoying the views.  Directly in front of us was the Junction Lookout.  
We admired the clouds and how they danced and burst.  
The sky was pretty amazing today!  I paid more attention to the sky then I did the surrounding mountains.  There was no way one could miss this sun dog.  I kept stopping to look back at it, and it became more defined every minute.  The sky took on quite a dramatic look.  Were we being rewarded for our effort of summitting in honour?
On the way up we discussed hitting "The Humps"on the way down if time allowed.  Well, we had loads of time so took them on.  The first Hump on the way down was the shorter one.  We reached the top and found the sandstone crags which were lightly covered in snow.  This is the view from the first Hump.
Heading up the second, bigger Hump.
View from bigger Hump of Indian Oils parking lot and road and trail head.
Now we just had a straight forward hike back to the trail head.  Today didn't seem like much effort at all in return for the gorgeous treats!  I agree this was a beautiful day to celebrate our freedom!  I am glad we discovered Purple Passion!  I too enjoy the warm sun on a winter -like day in the mountains!  These three thoughts alone were reason enough to make me feel like I was "on top of the world" today!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Field of Crosses

This morning I made time to honour those that have made it possible for me to have the freedom to live such a wonderful life!  Standing amongst all those crosses, I thought of my Dad and still cannot imagine what it must have been like for him as he fought for freedom.  This morning I watched the sunrise and gave thanks for the freedom to enjoy the start of a new day.  After the ceremony, after everyone else left,  I stood alone for a  moment and looked around at the field of crosses.   It stretched far and wide.  I strolled between row after row after row.  

Every morning at precisely sunrise the flags are raised!
between the crosses row on row
a reporter
glorious and free
a son?  a daughter?
a soldier
so many heroes
Tomorrow on November 11th, I will be joining friends to spend the day doing what we love!