Saturday, January 25, 2014

Be patient, and the stars.....

...will align for you!  I will admit patience is not my forte in most circumstances but for certain things in life it measures in with the highest of ratings.  Having patience to wait for the perfect day to venture towards Watridge Lake and Spray Lake paid off.  I was happy some friends were game to go with me.  While this was my 3rd time in 6 years to check out this area, it seemed like a whole brand new experience today.  What was not new or different was the route, distance, elevation gain and time.  With minimal elevation gain and on the shorter side of distance, it never fails to take a long time to complete. I realized today why. The roughly 6 kms that follows the River to the Lake is packed solid with scenery of all sorts and we seemed to stop every few minutes to admire what we were seeing.

Weather conditions play a big part in star alignment!  
It was ideal today with sunshine, blue sky, no wind, and warm temperatures.  
This was our first real view of the day.
In no time at all, we arrived at Watridge Lake.  
We checked out its' conditions first then made our way to the far end.   
My Watridge Lake destination shot!
Next we put our route finding skills to work, along with trail breaking and a little log hopping.  Eventually we made it back out onto the trail where we worked out way to the bridge that crosses the Spray River.  There was lots of open water here which made for pretty sights.
This is the beginning of the 6 kilometers that follows the river and the reservoir.  It was also our choice spot to dine.  It was noon time, there were just the right amount of stumps to sit on, the sun shone upon the area plus the scenery was spectacular.  Star alignment once again!  
I was very happy with how the day was progressing!
How on earth is that hunk of snow balancing on that rock?
I kept looking back as the scenery was just as nice behind us as it was in front of us.  
We made it to the wide open spaces where we could see forever.  
I was happy little puffs of cloud were scattered here and there.  
This mountain looks like it is spewing cloud.
We found a fun place to play.  Having a perfect mix of friends who share the same attitude when being "out & about" measures up as star alignment in my books.  These tree stumps were so perfectly placed,  we could not just pass on by.  
shadow shot
I wonder what transpired here!
The ice formations were amazing.  
Sections of our route had been wind blown of snow and that added to the wonderful scenery and made for more fun places to play.  The ice was very thick yet very clear.  We could see right through it to logs and rocks well below.  
We were approaching the end of this scenic 6 kilometer stretch and lucky for us, this trail, made by we are not sure what, was hard packed and lead directly to the forest to where we needed to go.  This meant for no trail breaking and quick movement at point when we are beginning to feel tired.  Star alignment, most definitely! 
We reached the forest for a small amount of route finding back up to the main trail.  Before heading into the forest, we all stopped to enjoy the view for one last time.  This is the last big scene of the day. What a sight to end on!
I have said many times that when I head "out & about" for the day, I go with wishes & hopes.  Today was filled with everything I wished and hoped for and in some cases even superseeded what I could have imagined!   I big thank you for sharing today with me and for playing a part in the equation that equals star alignment!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lots at the Lookout

Kananaskis Fire Lookout
Five Fun Folks
Live Love Laugh

An ideal day to snowshoe to the Kananaskis Fire Lookout would be when the forecast calls for a blue sky with delightful degrees.  Today would be that day! Five of us bought into the destination and mission.  Arriving early at the parking lot, we owned it and we owned the trail all the way to the top. 
(reminder clicking on any photo will enlarge it for better viewing)

We made our way along Whiskey Jack to the intersection and to where the views began.  The sun was  beginning to peek through the trees and now that we were higher up, we noticed the low lying clouds being blown by a strong wind.

The Lookout Trail appeared newly groomed.

That push up Lookout Trail seemed never ending so when finally spotting the Fire Lookout, that yell of excitement was called for.  The open area was nicely plowed but we choose to get into the deeper stuff and make our way to the Tower.   There was lots to see at the Lookout and it began with the mailbox which we all signed on the way down.

the picnic table

the weather vane

the Kananaskis Fire Lookout

the whiskey jack

After taking in many of the sights, I went for the perfect spot to capture my summit shot.  I supported myself against the clothes line having a perfect tree to my side, the clouds below me and a wonderful view of Upper & Lower Kananaskis Lakes all surrounded by those snow covered peaks.

view from the the summit along Lookout Trail

I have elevated my matchy matchiness to a whole new level.
The polish shade is called "High Frequency".
I like how it matches my snow pants!

After an extended lunch time visit, we geared up and took off, first to sign the guest book and then through the snow to the view point.  Lady Osprey, Nikita, Agent-X and Short Stop all took time to feel the moment.  The view they are viewing doesn't get any better than this...

...and this is that view!

a perfect tree

The descent to the intersection was quick.  
We took a few moments to gear down and enjoy another kind of view.  

Feeling the need for just a bit more work, we worked our way into the campground checking out campsites.  I spotted one that had potential for a summer time stay and went in for a closer view.  This mid afternoon snow was heavy and made for harder work than I expected.  Thirty minutes of this was enough so we made an escape back to the trail.

It was time to head home!  

I'm happy to have been able to share the day with my four fun friends.  I would say our mission was accomplished.  We share a passion for living life, we have a love for being in the mountains and we all are able to laugh at even the smallest of things.  Live! Love! Laugh!  Yup, that's what it's all about!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

When Ya Gotta Go, GO BIG!

No way that big bad storm forecast to hit Kananaskis Country was going to keep me behind closed doors!  Five friends felt that exact sentiment.  One small window on the radar showed a day of being 95% clear so we ventured out to where that window was.  McLean Hill area west of Bragg Creek was our objective for the day.  I hyped it up to be a full day adventure and it turned out exceeding that hype!  When ya gotta go, GO BIG!  

 We started early in a wicked warm wind but we had the trees to protect us. 
Ribbons marked our way.
Unusual for us, our high point was very early on in our adventure.  It was not easy to get here.  We were confronted with more snow than expected which meant this was a full on snowshoe ascent through the forest.  The summit area was wind swept and I was wind blown!  Twice here, the wind caught me and blew me a short piece away even with my heavy pack on my back.

my summit shot
The open area was big and beautiful!
It looked rough and rugged!
I just want to feel the moment!
It was time to head back into the forest for a fun descent through the snow.  
There were many ribbons to show us the way.  
It was approaching noon, so we aimed for a sheltered lower spot to settle down to dine.  We picked a bit of an open area in the trees along side an off road vehicle track.  There had been no sounds nor sightings so far.  Out of the blue my friend yells "there's one" and scrambles to the side.  It was grand lunchtime entertainment watching this side-by-side maneuver through the deep snow.
almost topsy tipsy
Thanks to Shorts Stop's booze balls, I felt just like that side-by-side looks!
This was a variety filled day with weather, trails, views and scenes.  
By very early afternoon the wind died down.  The sky to the west looked ominous.  We were refueled and now the tough part was right in front of us.  First though, I enjoyed this meadowy area.  It was peaceful and calm and was lined with aspens.  
Then comes Stallion Run!
A steep winding ascent!
In deep, heavy, wet snow at times!
We attacked Stallion Run like work horses!
(Photo posted with permission from friends.)
With a blink of the eye, that ominous sky was over top and conditions became brutal for a very, very short period of time but it felt like a lifetime.  This was that 5% of the day where it was forecast to be not so nice. The snow was heavy, wet, with whiteout conditions, the wind/snow combination offered up exfoliation which we had no choice but to accept.   The conditions cleared just as quickly and we continued to carry on through the foreast.
We reached the end of Stallion Run and found our way with the help of ribbons down to the road for a five kilometer hike back to the trail head.  Our second sighting of the day!  At this point he just became unstuck from a deep pocket of snow.
The wind howled here!  We bundled up and then changed over from snowshoeing to hiking for the long road home.  This section went by quickly.  We focused, we had a job to accomplished, we dug deep, forged on and in no time at all, well it seemed that way for me, we were back at our vehicles.
Like I said at the start, today exceeded the hype!  We worked together, we stuck together, we laughed together.  Today was most definitely deserving of a pat on the back for each of us.  Conqering today is an accomplishment to be proud of!  I am always thankful to have friends who were game to go.    
I'm already looking forward to more adventures with you!