Saturday, February 16, 2013

no Lookout but a View

We did our homework?  We had a GPS track to follow, we had a print out of photos, hand written notes, maps, and a copy of guide directions.  I emailed others who were in the vicinity recently for additional information.  Even checked the Parks website for reports.  We stopped along the road for a close up view of conditions through binoculars.  From the parking lot, we zoomed in for another close up view.  We checked the weather forecast, avalanche forecast plus we had the early start.  Everything aligned up and checked out A.O.K. and we were excited for our adventure to Mount Kidd Lookout.  I have been wanting to go there since last summer and finally today we were going to make it happen!  

We donned our microspikes and strapped the snowshoes to our packs.  Part of our route was along official snowshoe trails which let us to the meadow where we had an even better view of our destination which was the end of the ridge in the middle of the photo.  We knew what we were in for which was a steep safe section through trees.
We ditched following the GPS track which is shown in red and which would have been in denser forest.  Mistake?  Maybe! We followed an old packed trail.  Mistake?  Maybe!   Right from the get-go we threw our original plan by the wayside.  Mistake?  Maybe!  The GPS track now did not mean anything, nor did the map, the guide directions, nor the hand written notes.  The plan was to follow the red track, our track is in blue.  Today's adventure to reach Mount Kidd Lookout was aborted and will be refereed to as an "attempt".  Mistake?  Most definitely not!  
By 10:09 am after already covering close to 300 meters of elevation, where some smaller sections were quite steep, the conditions of the snow rapidly changed.  At this point we reached a slope that was less populated with trees.  The snow was not supportive, it was sticky, even crystallized.   We saw what appeared to be a safe area and my friend went first, slowly.  I proceeded to follow, the snow gave way under my foot, I lost my footing and began to slide.  Bushes broke my slide.  This time there were no tears, no swear words, no hand-holding, I rescued myself.  While this was happening, unbeknown to me, the friend ahead was dealing with her own issues and rescuing herself.    The friend behind stayed put and we both made it safely back to her.  This is what I have to show for our "Mount Kidd Lookout Attempt!"  
Upon our descent, we discussed if the red track would have been doable today.  Our conclusion, we will never know and we don't care about that today.  Mistake to think that?  Most definitely not!   That Lookout will always be there and we will be back but not anytime soon.   

There would be no Lookout for us today but it was early yet and there still could be a View!    Not at all ready for "heading home", we wanted a summit and a view so drove north with a new plan to summit Barrier Fire Lookout.  The sky was blue, we all had been there before, we knew the way which followed easy switchbacks, we just refueled and we had time.  Everything aligned up and checked out A.O.K. and we were excited for our adventure to Barrier Fire Lookout.  Could there be a Lookout summit today?
We quickly pushed our way through the wind, along the Lake and to where the switchbacks began.  I knew there were very definite defined braided trails that would cut off distance by avoiding switchbacks.  My friends trusted me and followed.  We made our way along these short cuts.  Mistake?  Maybe!  The short cuts ended, the switchbacks were no longer in sight, there was small gully after small gully, we were going steeply straight up, we only had a general idea of where we were.  

The snow was very sticky and the accumulation of a few inches on the bottom of my microspike depicts that.  We bushwhacked, climbed over logs, hiked up and down gullys.  Uncontrollable giggles took over, I'm not sure what got into me, I hadn't even savoured a rum ball yet!  This hike is no where near the top of my favourite list.  To myself I was thinking that I was glad we were not ascending on those boring switchbacks.  That being said, mistake to have gone this way?  Most definitely not!  We eventually found our way to the trail near the top and I now know we would have a loop in our hike today and I love loops. 
Relieved now, although tired, we made our way along the balance of Prairie View Trail to the viewpoint.  We eyed the trail to the Barrier Fire Lookout, checked the time, shared our feelings and it didn't take much to ditch the second Lookout plan.  Barrier Fire Lookout will be recorded as an "attempt" and we settled on Prairie View as our summit for today. Mistake?  Most definitely not!  

What a view it was!
My summit shot!
While Short Stop and I were taking care of our summit shots, Agent-X found a lovely sheltered den-like spot to dine.  Lunch wasn't long as it got colder and colder by the minute and the clouds to the west and south looked threatening.  We dined!  We took off!  This time we followed the actual trail and a few switchbacks then when the short cuts were very, very obvious, we went for them.  

By the time we were back down to Barrier Lake, the sky was beautiful blue in one direction.....
.....and darkly dramatic in the other direction.
In the Base Camp photo below, the red trail was the planned route and the blue trail is our trail.  
Many unplanned scenarios found their way into our day.  While they stopped us from conquering original plans they did not deter us from sharing a fun day together playing in the mountains.  After all, we are experts at being optimistic, at looking on the brighter side, at turning negatives into positives and most of all making the best of whatever is thrown our way!
If you have stuck with my story to this point, you can now see the tally for our accomplishments.  
Yes, today was an accomplishment!


  1. Sorry to read of injuries but it's a change to read of an outing that wasn't quite perfect. The Prairie View trail lookout is quite spectacular in my book.
    I see the snow is tumbling down over Banff this morning.

    1. Helen, I didn't realize it was snowing in Banff until your comment came through. Holy, lots of snow came down! Yippie!

  2. Always check the avalanche bulletin before heading out :-).

    1. Yes, very important to check avalance bulletins which was included in our homework that morning.


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