Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fossil Mountain August 19, 2017

this day of discovery was showcased to be big
in many more ways than just one
for some it was within our souls we did dig
 for all t'was an accomplishment when our day was done

Fossil Mountain was a new destination for us all.  I was glad others were as game as me to go given an early start, a cold temperature and a forecast of smoke.  The past few times I ventured into the Skoki environs this mountain was always at the forefront of my view and in my mind.   Having been in the area about a month ago to summit Heather Ridge, I was not sure I would care to go back again so soon after wards.  This summer has been full of days of discovery which I have been enjoying immensely and I was keen to keep that momentum going.  I have been feeling strong these days so was quite confident I could have a successful summit experience on Fossil.  

When we exited the forest and I saw the blue sky and those fluffy puffy white clouds I was tickled pink.  It has been awhile since I saw these few of my favourite things.  I secretly hoped it would stay like this for our entire adventure.
 We arrived at Ptarmigan Lake where we had a great view in the middle ahead of Fossil Mountain.
 Ptarmigan Peak to our left
 Redoubt Mountain and Ptarmigan Lake to our right
Just before beginning the climb to Deception Pass we stopped for a fuel break.  We then made our way up to Deception Pass then scouted out the route options to ascend the very steep slopes to the summit of Fossil Mountain.  I took a look back to witness one of our first amazing views.  
It was time to begin "the climb".
"the struggles I'm facing
the chances I'm taking
sometimes might knock me down
but no, I'm not breaking
just gotta keep going
I got to be strong
just keep pushing"
The higher we climbed more amazing views were presented.  
We could see the Wall of Jericho with Zigadenus and Myosotis Lakes at the base of it.
Little Baker Lake and Tilted Lake came into view
I was speechless when we reached Fossil Mountain's summit.  Not only did I feel out of breath from the climb but I tried to take time to "remember to breathe" but that is difficult when you are left breathless.  The views did that to me.  We could now see Skoki Mountain and off to the Red Deer Lakes.
summit cairn with the memorial plaque
my summit shot with Ptarmigan Lake far below me
me and my friends full of fever

It was windy and cold at times on the summit yet when the wind died down it felt hot.  We settled down and dined after taking our solo shots.  After dining time we then captured our group shots and some more scenery keepsakes.  We knew where we needed to go to descend so headed off and began to move down slowly and surely through the very deep scree on the steep slope.
looking back at my friends and up to where we were
We connected up with the trail that leads to Baker Lake.
back at Ptarmigan Lake
We passed by the official yoga boulder opting for something a little more unique.  In the middle of Boulder Pass we thought this would be a good spot to wind down and breathe deep.  We didn't spend too long as it wasn't needed, we felt ready to carry on with the last ten kilometers of the day.
Instead of taking the main trail back to the Hut we meandered through the meadow with a few creek crossings and pretty views.  We took a little bit of time at the Halfway Hut to get ready for the last push back to the trail head.  We fueled up a bit more, layered down and went on our way.
looking back through the meadow at Fossil Mountain which is not anywhere near a mere memory yet
With lots of conversation back through the forest the distance went quickly.  We admired the colors again, this time opting for photos with the perfect backdrop and lighting.  This was to be the last of our vast views.....
...except for Mount Temple in front of us...

For me this was a day of discovery in many ways.  The biggest would be setting my sights on a lofty goal and knowing I have the physical and mental capacity to accomplish it without any doubts or second guessing.   I realized I don't always need the affirmation on direction or judgment calls.  My sense and sensibility are proving correct so I am in a more confident and comfortable place with being out & about.  I am enjoying venturing to new places and discovering "new to me" mountains, summits, meadows and lakes.  I feel like I am growing as an adventurer with leaps and bounds yet knowing there is still so much more growing to do.  Thank you for today, it was a most wonderful gift!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

North Molar Pass August 12, 2017

My brain hurt after today's hike from all the wrapping around it felt like it had to do!  It was a Somewhat Surreal Saturday.  We lived out this day off the Icefield Parkway with a hike up to North Molar Pass then off exploring in the opposite direction in Search of Something Special.  I was happy to have along old friends to catch up with and an opportunity to make new friends.  We hiked!  We explored!  We discovered!  This day really did happen!
We met at the Mosquito Creek Parking Lot shortly after eight and it was quite chilly, chilly enough that my knees were shaking.   I thought I read the high for up where we would venture to was to be about 15 degrees Celsius.  I came prepared for that from the waist up.  Not long into our hike along The Creek we felt it warm up quickly and were down to short sleeves quite fast.  We reached the open Molar Meadow to see it carpeted in wildflowers and also to see our vast bright views would be limited due to that smoke still hanging about.  I felt I was needing something to smile about and this did the trick!  My mind was elsewhere and I was working at getting with the program but it was a struggle.
For a few this space was new.  We took lots of time to admire our surroundings.
When I arrived close to this location along the trail, I stopped and stared.  It took a few seconds to realize I was standing next to the Mosquito Tarn.  It looked like all green meadow at first and it was hard to tell where the tarn began and where it ended.   I got my mind around it and then it all became crystal clear just as clear as the tarn was.
reflection in Mosquito Tarn
We worked our way along the meadow, rock hopping the creek to the opposite side.  
I looked back again to see the Tarn take on a whole new look  
We ascended the scrabbly section up to North Molar Pass.  We went down a tad on the other side to settle in for lunch.  After lunch I took my camera and went up slope for vaster views.  When I reached the top and turned to look behind me the landscape took on a whole new hue that looked familiar.  I rattled my brain trying to figure out why this looked like something I saw before and why I loved this look so much.  It hit me!  This reminded me of Landmannalaugar in Iceland.
looking down at the trail and my friends
No you are not in Iceland!  
You are off the Icefield Parkway!
My destination shot at North Molar Pass.
"Walk like an Egyptian" someone said!
looks like baby Dolomites
It seemed like my mind was travelling the world today!  It looked like Iceland in places, we walked like Egyptians and my mind wonder to what the true Dolomites might look like after seeing the tiny ones that were gigantic.  Then I found myself feeling like I was back in Iceland!  Each time in the past that I ventured to North Molar Pass I looked off to the west and north wondering what could be up there and out there and over there.  Before heading out today I did a bit more homework and discovered the real Mosquito Lake was over another Pass.  My friends were as keen as me to seek it out.  We scampered up the final steep slope then rounded the corner and saw this sight.  Ah!  Landmannalaugar!  Ah!  Iceland!  Gosh I was feeling tired by now!
We were not able to see a safe route down to the lake from this point but did see a way to reach it which I would like to do another day, another year.  Seeing this lake and it's color was such a nice surprise, it lifted my spirits.
looking back and up at where we just were with the lake being down the other side
back at Mosquito Tarn
We saw this fellow from a distance at first and it looked big enough to be a marmot.  Yet it didn't have the coloring or the shape, only "looking the size".  It didn't move, it just stood there.  Yes, stood there, almost looking like it was bulking up to make a disguise and look bigger.  It took zooming in with my camera to see what it really was.
After leaving the meadow behind and getting back into the trees, we just motored along to the back country campground.  We took a good long break to snack and rest.  It was hot and we were all feeling tired.  A level of happiness set in when we reached the parking lot, ditched our gear and aimed for Mosquito Creek.
The water was freezing, my feet became numb, but what I could feel felt fabulous!  

While I finally did get my head around all that stuff I thought I saw or I didn't see along the hiking trail, I'm still working at comprehending what happened and what I saw just before we arrived at the trail head parking lot.  The few cars ahead of us were slowing, I thought bear sighting and then I did see a black bear walking the middle of the road.   A few seconds later I saw a dead baby black bear in the middle of the road and that was the mother black bear circling her baby.  It almost looked like the mother black bear was saying come on honey get off the road.  Then we realized the mother was in distress not wanting to leave her little one.  This was so terrible to see and very upsetting.  My emotions let go and I lost it!  A few minutes later we arrived at the parking lot and my friend was already there and came right over.  She seemed somewhat shocked.  I felt for her and felt sorry she had to see a speeding tour bus hit and kill the baby black bear  right in front of her and then speed away even faster.  Our other friends arrived a few minutes later and they were saddened and shocked too from what they saw.  I had a difficult time letting this go and getting on with enjoying our hike.  I was able to, to a certain extent, but that image kept popping into my mind.  I always appreciate being able to share fun times with friends out in our mountain playground living out our passion.  I just wish today got off to a different start!  It is what it was and I feel so sorry for that!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tombstone Lakes August 7, 2017

With Saturday's hike being on the easy side I still had energy to spend so planned to hike again on holiday Monday.  I opted for another easier hike and this time it was into Tombstone Lakes, just down the highway from where I was on Saturday.  I didn't notice how much of a green/brown day it was out that way until I looked at all the photographs I captured.  I put that down to being so in tune to the beauty in general.
I could not smell smoke but it was there.  I was thankful there was rain in the forecast for this part of Kananaskis, it would do the place the world of good.  We had a short visit at Elbow Lake before heading off into the valley section.  This is my favourite spot along this route where you can see the Cats Ears, where Piper Pass is and then having Tombstone Mountain look so gigantic right there. 
This was the first time ever I saw a vehicle along this trail.  
We all moved to the side to let the traffic go by.  
It just looked so odd.  
We knew what that meant though!
Nobody was home at the Conservation Officer's Cabin. 
We could stop by for a short visit without interrupting anyone.
With it being later Monday morning, all the backpackers were checking out of all the campsites.  We were the only ones heading in.  My intentions were to hit Upper Tombstone Lake first.  I wanted to get there and enjoy lunch before the rain came.  It was forecast to begin around noon.  We took a trail too soon and came out at the Lower Lake so we just passed by it and aimed for the Upper Lake.  It was a pretty green sitting at the base of Tombstone Mountain.
I was up on the rocky outcrop when it was covered in snow. 
I wanted to be there when it wasn't.  
We did the easy scramble to the top.
My lunch time view.
My summit shot!
with my friends
After an hour above Upper Tombstone Lake, we scrambled down and circumnavigated it.  We checked out the avalanche impact pool.  It was the greenest of greens.  It looked quite deep too.
reflection in the avalanche impact pool
Lower Tombstone Lake
Once all the lakes received the attention they were due, we hit the long stretch back.  It was into the afternoon and the rain never did happen.  It looked like it would at times and then that look went away.  The sky gained a little more blue.  We commented how the ground cover has that autumn look.  Oh soosh!  Don't say that word!
looking back 
still looking back
I never ever want views like this to end.
So I grab every last second of scenery that I can.
We arrived back at Elbow Lake and now it looked photogenic.  
The only thing left to do was to hike the last click and a half down the hill to the parking lot.  I didn't really feel ready to do that yet as I quite enjoy being by this lake and walking around the campground.  But, we needed to make hay and get on with our day.  The rain finally did come while we were driving home.  I sure hope it landed where it was needed.  Combine today's hike with Saturday's hike and I now feel I got a good fill of mountain time and I am ready to face reality for a few more days.