Monday, July 31, 2017

Wenkchemna Pass July 31, 2017

There was a special reason I wanted to make something of today.  In honour of 2017 being Canada's 150th Birthday and also my Firm's 150th Birthday, my employer is giving each employee a birthday gift, a paid day off work.  Since I was already off work on Friday which was my birthday, I took today as my gift.  I knew I would hike today and honestly thought heading to Moraine Lake Parking Lot early on a Monday would be OK with the summit of Tower of Babel as the destination.  Well, what was I thinking!  My Mother would say "You need your head examined!"  We departed Calgary at 6:00am, arrived at the Moraine Lake Parking Lot to see it full and cars already parked a way the heck down the road.  Out of the corner of my eye I spied the gully route to the top of the Tower and then the hoards of people everywhere.  Literally my stomach turned.   I had visions of flip-flopper hikers trying to uncontrollably get up the gully.  I had my helmet but no body armour.  In the mean time we did two loops around the lot and finally got a parking spot.  I expressed how I was feeling and we quickly came to a consensus that Wenkchemna Pass would be today's destination instead of Babel.  

With our stars totally out of line we began our hike waffled by smoke.  
We made our way up the switchbacks in the forest, reached the turn-off and took it, then chatted and hiked along the long straight stretch to the opening and where we could see the Pass in the middle far off.  It looked grey and dismal but in a weird way I could see beauty.
I was thinking this is going to be one of those days where you show appreciation for what is right under your eyes.  That's where I found crisp and clear and color.  I did notice the golden hues appeared as if it was the golden hour.
We reached Wenkchemna Pass.  
It was warm and windless.  
We secured our summit shots.
and played of course
I still have that fever!
We found a rock shelter with seats inside so that's where we settled to dine.  While in there a wind picked up and it began to clean somewhat.  As we began our descent, the views off were beginning to pick up and were looking pretty.  Ah, our stars were beginning to line up.
I had never been to the tarn and meadow below the Pass and always wanted to venture there.  Today was the ideal time to do so.  It got quite hot down here and the wind subsided.  Short Stop said this reminded her of Horseshoe Lake.  
another tarn lined by some of the Ten Peaks
a golden green
rocky creek & wild flowers & peaks
at the tarn with Wenkchemna Pass in the middle above
We got lost in our day in this meadow.  It was truly beautiful and captivating.  We were the only ones here, it was peaceful.  We were far from the maddening crowd.   It was when we began to find our way back to the trail that we realized how far we wandered.  We hiked back to the opening that overlooks Eiffel Lake and stopped for a snack break and a rest.
on the trail above Eiffel Lake and opposite the Ten Peaks
Valley of Ten Peaks
Short Stop is just about ready to turn the corner ahead.  
We were both so thankful the smoke cleared out.
When we had views of Moraine Lake, we knew there was not much further to go.  It was beauty overload by now yet I still had capacity to take more in.  Almost nine hours prior none of this was visible.  I have been out this way a few times and this time takes top prize for prettiness.
back at Moraine Lake with Tower of Babel to the left
After nine hours of hiking we arrived back at the vehicle with car after car after car wanting our spot. We were in no rush as we geared down, washed up and fueled up.  About thirty minutes later we were on our way.  This morning when we arrived here and I saw all the humanity and smoke, I had very low expectations for our day.   I am not sure if I have had such low expectations at the start of any hike in the past.  When we set off I just thought to myself that it will be what it will be.  LOOK AT WHAT IT WAS!  WOW!  It was a birthday gift that was hard to open but was worth the work to unwrap!   Thank you for today!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mount Allan July 27, 2017

I had an idea of how I wanted to acknowledge my 60th birthday with regards to my passion for hiking.  I knew I wanted to go big and I wanted pretty.  Over the past while many mountain top ideas came and went.  A few weeks back I shared my hope, yet with still not a planned place.  As the days went on a particular location came to the forefront of my thoughts.  Then just like that, my friend emailed me asking if I was still interested in a big accomplishment.  I was!  He put an idea and offer out there and I grabbed onto it with open arms.  His suggestion of Mount Allan was the place that had worked its way to the top of my idea bank.  This is what I wanted turning 60 to look like!  This is my photo from the summit of Mount Allan.
The early start got us to the Ribbon Creek Parking Lot to find only one other vehicle there.  The lighting was very pretty, it was peaceful it was quiet.  Plus it was warm already.  The forecast was for hot and I came prepared.  
We made good time through the trees where it was sweltering.  I was thankful when we reached the open to feel a breeze.  The breeze kept any bugs away and kept us comfortable as we continued to climb out in the open.
Before leaving the city this morning, I began to wonder if we would be hiking in smokey conditions considering the new flare up late yesterday of the Verdant fire.  No smoke to be seen nor smelled how lucky for us.
The breeze got bigger and the temperature was ideal.  Our ascent seemed to pass so quickly and somewhat effortlessly.  I contribute that to our continual conversation and to the beauty that surrounded us and distracted us.  There is our destination, that light brownish bump to the right of that big grey mountain.
A garden is always pretty even if it is a rock garden.  
I never promised you a rose garden but here is your rock garden!  
We hung out in the rock garden for a little while to scramble around and capture some fun shots.  I am on the lighter side weight wise so the weight of the pack helps when gusts of wind come along.  I realized how windy it truly was when I climbed out of the shelter from between the rock walls.  A couple of times I hunkered down until the wind settled.  We were not on the summit here but I did feel like I was on top of the world.
passing through the rock garden
 a pinnacle in the rock garden
 exiting the rock garden
We came out of the rock garden and began the final assault of Mount Allan.  The views from up here were outstanding.  We could see forever in all directions.  Only to the west over Canmore was there smoke.  Here we looked across to Pigeon Mountain and Mount Collembola plus the ridge route to Mount Allan from the Highway 1 side.  
our shared summit shot
my solo summit shot
 my friend's solo summit shot
Before settling down to dine, we watched this guy for quite some time.  It was intrigued with the straps of my friend's hiking poles.  He was licking them, chewing them and even attempted to drag one away.  It then moved on to my poles and was fascinated with the locks in the middle.
The hike up turned out being a dirty one.  I didn't realize how dirty until I looked down when I was getting ready to settle down.  This is mild looking compared to what my legs looked like by the time we arrived back at the parking lot.
We spent a significant amount of time savouring the summit.  The weather was perfect with a slight breeze, no bugs and no need for layers.  Before leaving to begin the descent I captured a few more memorable shots.  The colors were gorgeous, I loved the clouds that were in the sky and the blue was so blue.
 a golden descent
 entering back into the rock garden
As if we did not get enough time in the rock garden on the way up, we opted for even a little more time on the way down.  This section looked so different in reverse.  Standing beside the pinnacle puts the size into perspective.  Yes it is big.
 I looked back one last time at the summit of Mount Allan and where I celebrated turning 60.
 a rugged frame
When we entered the forest the heat turned on again.  We made a quick trip of this section just wanting to get it over with and get the boots off and get our legs cleaned.  As we were finished up all that, my friend surprised me.  I devoured this delicious lemon cake allowing him to have a couple of bites only.  This really was the icing on today's cake!  

I enjoyed everything about today!  I recognize how fortunate I am to be turning 60 and having good health.  I don't take for granted that I am able to be living my passion and that I have good friends to share it with.  Thank you for everything you did today and for making this such a memorable day.  It was grander than I hoped for!  Physically and mentally when I stood on the summit of Mount Allan I felt like I was "on top of the world!"

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fairview Mountain July 24, 2017

My young friend asked "Are we going to be doing another one like the first one we did?" I said "We can!" and I looked her and the others in the eye and said "Fairview Mountain!"  They wanted the  statistics, location, trail type, all the pertinent information necessary to make their decision.  It didn't take long for them to decide they wanted that feeling of being in the middle of where they could experience being one with the mountains and glaciers.  My young friend is right where she belongs and feels at home in this high off place.
We went for the early start to make sure we could get a parking spot at the Lake Louise Parking Lot.  Geesh that place fills up early these days and this wasn't even a weekend day.  Washrooms were closed when we arrived so we chased up the hill to the backup bathrooms.  We geared up and headed off to the left from Lake Louise and began the ascent.  Lots of large trees were down across the trail from the wild winds last night.  We maneuvered around them.  It took a bit of time to get to where we had the views.  
We arrived at Saddleback Pass and took a little time here.  
We looked up at our destination and had a discussion.  
The Pass would be one's destination and the summit would be for the rest.  
We worked our way up and up and up on the steep, loose gravel sections.  
I made sure to stop every now and then and devour the views.  
Looking back at Mount Temple's snow covered peak.
That snow never melts.
 There were lots of wildflowers amongst the rough and rugged rocks.
 even higher up
 and higher where we could see across to the ski hill and the village below
 yet still higher and yet still more flowers
Before we knew it we popped out onto the summit of Fairview Mountain.   Here we were in amongst the mountains and glaciers feeling like we were being hugged by them.  It got cool and it was windy. We secured a few summit shots and then took cover.
My friend found the perfect spot that was warm from the sun and sheltered from the wind.  
We tucked in together to enjoy our lunch and the views.  
We had the prime spot to savour.  

After lunch it was play time.  We were owning the summit right now so it was a free for all to do what we wanted where we wanted.  Summit fever took over and we became a little wild and crazy.  Thin air at high altitudes will do that to you.  That's what I blame it on anyway.
view down to Lake Louise and across to Mount St Piran
Being bundled up and a bit warmed up we took time to play some more.  
Further down slope we went for another summit photo.  

After investing almost an hour on the summit it was time to move on down.  I did one last 360 and then followed my friends to the summit exit. Already I was feeling very thankful for how our day was going and now I was just thinking I hope we get back to the saddle in fine form.
Before reaching the tree section, we stopped to look around one more time.  
We arrived back down at Lake Louise and met up with our friend.  We geared down and got into our vehicle away from the sound of the crowds.  We each shared our stories while enjoying cool snacks.  Memories were made up on the summit of Fairview Mountain that I think will stay with us for a very long time.  From our conversations, hiking in the Canadian Rockies has formed a whole new appreciation for hiking for my friends.  I am so happy that I was apart of this. There are so many more mountains for them to climb up here and my door is wide open!