Sunday, October 25, 2015

Buller Pass embracing autumn

It seemed a bit odd to be hiking on a Sunday, but with life's happenings there was no way on earth I could possibly have organized a hike for Saturday or for that matter, I could not have even completed a hike.   I was happy friends were keen to wait until Sunday to join me.  I put the idea out there of Buller Pass as a destination and it was a right choice for this gorgeous nearing-the-end-of October day.  While the warm layers and hot beverage were much appreciated at the summit where it was nippy, there was no need for gaiters nor foot traction nor anything one might need when dealing with snow or ice.  

This was the only ice we saw along the way, sections of frozen creek.
We made our way along the trail in the burnt forest then passed through the meadow. 
It had been two years since I was up to this Pass and already I forgot what some of the terrain looked like and where we would eventually end up.  Then it all came together and I could see the cairn and the inukshuk at the top.  A section of the trail nearing the top that had been washed out by the flood had been rerouted and made for a smoother climb.
Inukshuk at Buller Pass
This is my summit shot.  You can see  Mount Assiniboine, it is the tallest snow covered peak to the right of me.  It looked magnificent, so clear and it seemed so close.  Because of its closeness, it fooled me so I had to confirm that it was Mount Assiniboine.
The sun had not yet arrived on the Pass so it was on the nippy side.  I had enough layers so it did not matter to me.  I savoured my tuna sandwich, salad (made up of penne, snap peas, orange cherry tomatoes, feta cheese), grapes, mesquite b-b-que chips and hot cranberry apple zinger tea.  This was my view whilst dining, you can see Ribbon Lake far below center.  
looking across to Guinns Pass
I would like to get back to that Pass again one day.
just playing around, getting a little higher and enjoying the colorful boulders
Folks that were coming up when we were descending warned us of a "big ole bear" up on the slope.  We eyed and eyed the slope but no sightings for us.  Seeing the terrain snow-free and dry like this and the sun shining brightly and warmly, it is hard to imagine the bears are considering going into hibernation.  
such a beautiful autumn day
I know going forward, beautiful days like today are numbered.  
I made an extra effort to soak it all in.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Redoubt / Ptarmigan Lake Seriously? Are you kidding me? Is this for real?

But it's mid October in Alberta, in the middle of the Rocky Mountains!  I always go prepared when I head to the mountains to play.  I go prepared for the worst and hope for the best.  Today we were handed better than the best.  I was not prepared!  I could have left my microspikes, down jacket, ice breaker, gaiters, hot beverage, wool hat, heavy mitts, lined pants all at home.  Instead I should have packed more cold drinks and worn summer attire.  

Last year when I hiked into Packers Pass,  I knew right then and there that I wanted to return and head off in the opposite direction and pay a visit to Redoubt Lake.  I wanted conditions to be user friendly and to be with friends who were game to take time and "remember to breathe".  It took until today where all things finally fell into place and we made it happen.

our view from the parking lot
nearing Boulder Pass looking back at Mount Temple
We made a quick stop at the Halfway Hut to shed layers and have a snack then carried on through Boulder Pass to Ptarmigan Lake. We were already in awe of what was right in front of us and the day was still so very very young.  We slid rocks across the thin layer of ice to hear the music the sliding creates. Give it a try sometime, you will be amazed!  
We watched friends veer off towards the trail to Deception Pass while we carried on along the opposite side of Ptarmigan Lake to head up the rocky route towards Redoubt Lake.  We had an amazing view over to Packers Pass, Deception Pass and the full length of Ptarmigan Lake.  My wish was that the lakes would be partially covered with ice and as you can see, my wish came true.
It was later morning by the time we reached this side of Redoubt Lake, so we stopped here for our first lunch break.  We eyed the full length of the Lake trying to figure if we could circumnavigate it.  It was not easy to figure that out from our vantage point if we could carry on along the side we were on but it was obvious we could hike the entire length on the other side.
we hiked a short bit along this side and saw we could not safely go further
we admired the views
took some photos
of reflections and Heather Ridge
our group shot at Redoubt Lake
We returned and then hiked along the opposite side of the Lake to the far end.  It was utterly amazing here.  We gave ourselves a turn-around time and I was so happy it was enough time to arrive here and take a little time.   I chose this as my Redoubt Lake destination shot.
sliding rocks to hear the music again and making splashes
no one seemed in a hurry to go anywhere fast
we savoured every second
We decided time was on our side as of course was the weather, so added on hiking to the far end of Ptarmigan Lake for our second lunch and returning along the opposite side of it.  We meandered through the meadow until we found a lovely lunch spot.  We took a little time to fuel up and gaze at the beauty.
pool of water near our dining spot
We lingered, we meandered, we admired, we seemed to be doing just about everything to prolong leaving this place.  It was warm and sunny and the air was still plus there were reflections galore.  
my last view of Ptarmigan Lake before leaving it behind and heading back to Boulder Pass
On the way in, we chatted about doing our yoga poses on this rock when we came to it on the way out.  I sensed others were a little tired like I was but when we arrived at the big boulder and I put the suggestion out there, everyone was quickly on board and we all took our places.
Once that business was taken care off, we opted to pass on visiting the Halfway Hut again and decided just to carry on with the last seven or so kilometers and get the job done of getting back to the vehicle in daylight.  We accomplished that with time to spare.

Today was one of those days!  You know!  One of those days!  You had to be there to feel it!  It certainly was for real.  I have experienced some spectacular days in my years of being "out & about" and today belongs up there in that group.  Thank you for today!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bull Creek Hills Thank You for this Autumn Day

How fickle you are Mother Nature!  We are fortunate to be surrounded by playgrounds of all sorts so when a forecast quickly changes for one area, we just as quickly head off in another more user-friendly direction.  We aimed south then west with intentions of hiking up to Bull Creek Hills and carrying on behind, below and beyond the Hills to explore the terrain and to incorporate some other shape rather than just a straight line in and out.    

We began our adventure early. 
Shortly thereafter we arrived at a welcoming arch. 
Moab is still on my mind. 
We passed under!   
Upon the first Hill, the ground cover glistened in autumn shades.  
I was thankful for the blue sky.  Off in the distance it did not look so blue so I opted to take some photos while it was bright.  It was slightly windy all the time with wind gusts some of the time.  Those gusts were quickly bringing dark clouds in and out.  
The way to the true summit was obvious even though the cairn was scattered.  We built it back up then carried on down and then up to the metal summit pole. The gusts were ferocious so when it was time for our summit shot, I firmly planted the tripod poles into the dirt a cm or two.  Here we are!
Even here the autumn shades were so nice.
It was well before noon, but still time to refuel.  Shelter was the main priority and it was easy to find. We settled down with a fabulous view and dined.  I kept checking over my shoulder, keeping an eye on the sky.  The dark clouds were accumulating, it was becoming colder, we savoured a few more drinks and bites then bundled up and continued on.  
I always wondered what was behind and beyond these Bull Creek Hills ever since seeing folks hiking along a ridge off in the distance one time.  We had loads of time so went off to explore.  The ridge down was pretty with colorful ground cover and rocks but we had to contend with those wind gusts while in this wide open space.  We explored, using our route finding skills, reading the map, following the topography on the GPS and scouting out and assessing as we went.  We completed a large loop and met back up with the main trail.  

I was very thankful to have no snow along the way, and to be able to see the reds, oranges and golds. For a moment or two, I felt like a child swishing my feet through the fallen leaves.  It was quite a colorful day.
Feeling quite content with our accomplishment, we aimed for the trail home.
I took one last look back before entering the tree-lined trail.
With this being Thanksgiving weekend, I took a little more time to give extra thanks for everything I have in my life.  Thank you for this Autumn Day!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Moab Day 7 Sand Flats Recreation Area

Hiking in the Sand Flats Recreation Area on the day before departure was on our agenda right from the start.  With just a 15 minute drive to the trail head, I could relax a little longer in the morning and have more time in the evening to lounge around. The forecast was for perfect, the mid 20's.  I did not have the best sleep and I felt very tired as we headed out.  That all changed though and I felt at my strongest today, maybe it took all this time to get use to hot weather hiking.  The temperature did rise above the forecasted digit and hit the 30 mark.  As with all vacations I take, the day before departure, I make an extra effort to absorb in as much scenery and spice of the area as possible.  I live in the moment, and try not to let my mind wander back to reality quite fully yet. I take a little more time to remember to breathe and to be appreciative and thankful that I am even here.  I think back to the birth of the idea to come here and the work involved to make it happen and then to be grateful everything fell into place and here I am.  No matter what, given hot or not, and wanting to end on a high note, like every other vacation time, upbeat high-spirited and happy are my forefront features for this day!

                                                  we pass through our gate at home
                                     we pass through the gate at the Sand Flats playground
I had no idea what we would be in for today, but I loved the lay of the land right out of the gate. 
                                     looking deep down into the canyon
We started at the trail head with a few mountain bikers but then they were long gone.  Then we had our first mingling with the 4X4 folks.  They had their own trail and we shared ours with the bikers.  The trail markings were fun to follow.  I was impressed how the different sporting activities could occur at the same time in the same place without interference of each other.
I would guess that 98% of our trail was slick rock, the balance was sand.   The bikers pretty much needed to follow the white dotted line whereas we could go wherever we safely pleased.  We had a wonderful view of the La Sal Mountains.  
                                                     along the way
Seeing the morning glory flowers was a pleasant surprise.  We were high above yet very close to the Morning Glory Bridge we hiked to two days ago.  
                                   formations in the center of this playground 
We saw mountain bikers, runners, 4X4ers, and now dirt bikers.  As you can see from the top of his helmet, he too wants to record his adventure.   I enjoyed watching others having fun.  
                                   What a view we had of the Colorado River.  
                          the Colorado River, the La Sal Mountains, the slick rock
                                                  mountain bikers 
                                     another view of the Colorado River
                                                      cloud coverage
                                                       mountain biker
The views were vast in all directions.  In the far off distance you can see Arches National Park from one end to the other.  We could pick out an arch but I was not sure which one it was.  
By early afternoon, we found a slick rock formation to climb up onto for a second longer break and to polish off what was left for lunch.  We were in a prime position to witness the enjoyment others were having.  Four 4X4s waiting their turn to descend the step slick rock slope.
Then, there they go, probably to the same place we would now be heading.  As it was nearing the end of the hike, it was time to aim for the trail head and parking lot and then to our home away from home.
We covered 17 kms and the total elevation gain was roughly around 600 m give or take a few.  What a most enjoyable day & way to cap of six days straight of hiking. I appreciated and was grateful
for every  second along today's way.  For me this playground represents what Moab itself is all about.