Saturday, December 15, 2012

Findings & Endings

Recently, we have been adventuring into areas we have not explored before and happily finding treasures and treats along the way.   With the year coming to an end and the daylight hours ending sooner, we once again headed into the Sheep Valley which is a short drive from the city so allowing us more time to be on trails then on highways.  We perused the purple trail book and picked out Carry Ridge and area for the ideal place to adventure to today.  As you can see, we were a trio today!
Trying to follow directions from these colorful trail books has proven to be a challenge at times.  These recent trips in this area have given us the opportunity to practice route finding skills.  Incorporating written directions, gps, compass and our heads, we find the way!  I have finally taken the time to understand UTM coordinates and adding that to the mix to help with route finding.   We found the boundary fence which we were to follow.
We voted to leave the snowshoes behind when we saw the lack of snow on the drive out and the lack of snow remained for the balance of the day.  The elevation was very gradual.  The Ridge was made up of meadows here and there, aspen trees, and all the while, we had a beautiful blue sky with curvy, cool,  clouds to admire.   
At our first high point where the mountains begin to appear!
The landscape was pretty and we didn't make good time due to that.  I couldn't help noticing the clouds dancing.  Another thing I couldn't help noticing were the amount of cougar tracks in the little snow there was.  There were both old and fresh (today fresh) tracks.  We examined them and determined there was a baby with a Mom at times.  The large amount of tracks was a little unsettling so we did stop and take a few minutes to confirm what we should do in the event we had an encounter.   For the balance of the day, I paid careful attention to our surroundings.
Further along, at our highest point, I went for a new style summit shot.
We followed Carry Ridge to the end and then veered down the west slope to find a sheltered spot for lunch and to revisit the written directions and decide on a trail to tackle.   Taking into consideration the time, we choose a trail and distance that we knew we could cover and finish up in daylight.   

I took one last look up at Carry Ridge before climbing towards West Mud Springs Pass.
Perfect mix of meadow, trees, clouds!
West Mud Springs Pass was primarily a forest of aspen and spruce trees with the odd grassy knol and a col thrown in.  With no defined trail and a little more snow, route finding came into play again.  We primarily went straight, with the odd going in a circle and a retrace our steps thrown in.  Finally we were back to familiar territory with Anchor-D Ranch in the distance. We met up with our trail of six hours ago and completed the planned loop just as daylight hours began to diminish.   
Lovely light & landscape!
Our final descent to the vehicle.
The waving flags signaled pride and a job well done!
On a day that never did warm up where layers could not be removed, nor hats & heavy mitts stored in the pack, it is nevertheless, still a warm feeling sharing laughter, stories and adventures with friends. The little treasures and treats discovered each and every time we are out there finding our way, bring an ending with faces full of smiles and happy healthy glows!  

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