Monday, July 17, 2017

Windy Peak Hills & Peak July 17, 2017

My prayers go out to all those who have been forced from their homes because of the wildfires.   My thoughts are with those who are working tirelessly at containing the fires.  I feel for those who have to alter their vacation plans because trails and campgrounds (front and back country) have been closed.  Best wishes to those whose health has been affected by the smoke.  I shared today with two friends who are on the same page as me in many ways.  We love our mountain time and our hearts are torn for what is occurring in Banff and Kootenay National Parks.  
We made a change in plan for our hiking location today to an area where we thought the smoke would not be as dense. We picked Windy Peak Hills on the southeast corner of Kananaskis.  We noticed conditions were a bit better than in the city.  Yet we knew too that our focus for the day would be right in front of our eyes and not far off in the distance.
Our goal was to make it to the summit, Windy Peak.  That meant we would have many hills to climb up and down along the way.  The hills were very green even though it was very dry and has been for quite some time.  This was as far as we could clearly see.
I wondered how the smoke would be affecting the wildlife. 
This coyote and I caught each others eye and then it turned and walked away. 
At times I could smell smoke but for the most part it did not bother me.  We thought be strong and fight this fire.  It took some time but we did reach the high point of Windy Peak Hills at Windy Peak and captured our summit shot.  We took time to dine and admire the wildflowers around us.  We were quiet and I believe we were all being thoughtful of one thing or another.
I really enjoy hiking and seeing what is out there and up there.  I have been using my summer pack and recently sewed my new Iceland patch onto it.  My camera is always close at hand.  I shared with my friends how I feel the need to take photographs.  I am not sure what that is all about but it is a part of my being "out & about".  
I thought about lots of things today when I quietly hiked along with my friends.  I thought about my friends coming to visit and how I want them to see the beautiful playground that is out my door.  I don't believe time is on our side for this smoke to clear before they arrive and we begin hiking.  Today we could only see silhouettes and outlines away out there and that was about it.  
As the afternoon was drawing on we saw a bit more blue.  The winds picked up and moved some of the smoke away.  We chatted on our way to hike Windy Peak Hills where it is always windy that either the wind will bring the smoke in or blow it out.   My wish is to share clear summit shots with grand vistas with my visiting friends.  I can only hope!
focusing on what is right in front of our eyes
As we climbed one last hill it looked even bluer.  I began to wonder what it would be like when we arrived back in the city.  I wondered what was occurring in Banff and Kooteney National Parks, I hoped everyone was safe and that the fire did not expand.  My heart is torn and I pray for the best for everything and everyone.
We completed our hike ending up back at Tear Drop Pond. 
It is surrounded by fireweed.  
Fireweed grows where once there was a fire!

Our distance was minimal, the elevation gain was significant, the temperature was perfect, the scenery was nice( we have been spoiled but we are experts at finding beauty where ever),  the company was the best and our hearts were full of care and concern for our mountain playground and for what other things that are on a more personal note for each of us.

sending prayers and best wishes from

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Heather Ridge July 15, 2017

It is iconic views like this of Ptarmigan Lake and Ptarmigan Peak that keep me coming back to the Skoki area of Banff National Park not far from Lake Louise.  Each time I am in this region I spy a place and add it to my memory bank as a destination for another day.  Heather Ridge has been taking up memory space for quite some time.  Time to free your mind!  I put out a shout and some keeners were quickly on board to hit that Ridge with me.
We arrived at the Fish Creek Trail Head Parking Lot at 8:13am to see it full expect for one spot.  My friend grabbed that one and we made up one.  I truly love that back area in back of the Lake Louise Ski Hill so much so that I am no longer deterred by the initial four kilometer walk up the dirt road.  When the views begin, they begin! 
Just like last Saturday, it was on the gray side with a dull sky when we started out but just over an hour into our adventure the blue appeared and was over us the entire day.  I thought how fortunate we are considering the fires west of here and the smoke they are dealing with.
Of course we paid a visit to the Halfway Hut.  For a couple this was their first time here so they checked out the inside.  I stayed outside and devoured the view and a snack.
We scrambled our way around Ptarmigan Lake, crossed a short snow slope and then began the ascent.  We did not have a detailed description of how to get to the summit of Heather Ridge.  We did have a couple of tracks and a map and combined those with our route finding skills and sense of direction, feel for the terrain and lay of the land.  We aimed higher and higher.   I got to look down at Ptarmigan Lake from a new vantage point for me.
We could see across to Packers Pass at the left and Deception Pass to the right with Packers Peak in the middle.  With freed up memory bank space  now in goes Packers Peak.  You can see the trail below it leading to Deception Pass.
paint brush was at its best
We reached the boulder field and began to scramble up and through it.  
There's Baker Lake.
Two years ago on Thanksgiving weekend we hiked along Redoubt Lake to the far end.  It was on that day when I was down there and looking up to here that I knew I wanted to be up here.  Seeing Redoubt Mountain and Redoubt Lake from this location puts their size in perspective.
We were slow and deliberate scrambling through the boulder field assessing the situation every few minutes.  I was glad when we were done with it and popped out onto this snow.  The supportive snow was at a low angle and made for a quick kick step trip to the top.
It took quite some time to get here.  We stayed on this side of the Ridge and called it our summit spot so I secured my summit shot.  The views were outstanding from up here.  It was windy which was a blessing because it kept us cool and kept any bugs at bay.
We settled in down slope.
Lazed about.
Enjoyed the view!
We went for an easier descent route with only a little boulder hopping.  We arrived down on the meadow below Heather Ridge then meandered our way along this side of Ptarmigan Lake to it's outlet, crossed it then mosied along the opposite side.
looking across to Heather Ridge and where we were
The meadows were alive with red and pink paint brush.
We were nearing the end of Ptarmigan Lake.  It had already been a long day and we still had a long way to go to finish.  I was already reflecting on where we spent our summit lunch and also reflecting on how fortunate I felt to be here today.  It is such a colourful place that packs a scenery punch.
Into the early evening the lighting made for a dreamy photograph of Ptarmigan Lake and the surrounding mountains. The blue, the green, the white, the beige, the grey, the pink, this is what memories are made off.  It's a vision like this that will bring me back here even again.
Ptarmigan Peak with flower frame
Yes Flying Fin take one last look as we leave Boulder Pass and head for home.
My memory bank is chalk full with yet another destination added to it along with all of today's sights and happenings.  I am thankful for how this dog day of summer played out.  We were keeners & troopers, adventurous & spirited, full of joy & cheer.  We all know fine friends truly make the day!  Thank you for this day!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Horseshoe Lake & Giant Steps July 8, 2017

Paradise is right!  The classic as it gets Paradise Valley & Giant Steps hike is one that I always wanted to experience but I knew I didn't want it to be just that but I also didn't know how else I wanted it to be.  That was until two years ago when I saw a friend ventured above and beyond that valley and those steps and he and his friends landed at a gorgeous lake.  I knew then how I wanted my trip into there to play out.  It took until today to put a plan in place and execute it.  Horseshoe Lake looking exactly what I hoped for today.
photo credit Short Stop
her shot of Horseshoe Lake from Eiffel Peak
captured on July 18, 2013

I put a plan together and hoped friends would be keen to come with me and sure enough they were.  It was forecast to be a hot day and what better place to play than where there are lakes, rivers, creeks and waterfalls.  We left the concrete jungle at 6:15 had a smooth sale to the trail head parking arriving at  8:15am only to find it already full.  We then created a make shift spot to park.  We made good time through the forest to Lake Annette.  After a short snack break, we hit the creek side trail and.....
...made our way to the Giant Steps.
We took another fuel up break at the Giant Steps then began the task of route finding our way to Horseshoe Lake.  The colors were gorgeous the entire way, they never let up.  We had a couple of creek crossings, passed through some marshy meadows, did a little rock hopping, bushwhacking and finally found that piece of paradise.

Horseshoe Lake
my destination shot
me and my friends just hanging around
Horseshoe Lake which sits at the base of Horseshoe Glacier is so large it is impossible to capture it all in one photo unless you are like Short Stop and able to witness it from almost on top of the world. That's Lefroy in the middle there.   The color of the Lake was so pretty.  We stuck around for about an hours.  There was no wind, no bugs, it was very warm.  Two friends went for a frigid swin, some dipped just their feet in and we all just took the time to "remember to breathe".
I wanted to hike a loop around this area so that meant we needed to work our way through some bigger rocks that went on and on and on.  I like this view down into Paradise Valley and Horseshoe Meadows.
crossing Horseshoe Lake

in Horseshoe Meadows
We found our way down to Horseshoe Meadows, descended a snow slope, did a little more bushwhacking and route finding and completed the loop arriving back at the Giant Steps.  Being a hot day and needing to freshen up, we visited here for a little way and found ways to cool off.
We still had a lot of kilometers to cover so carried on back to the trail we came up on.  
The views were better now than they were early this morning.  

back at Lake Annette at the base of Mount Temple
my reflecting lake shot
We hiked through the woods, crossed a couple of bridges and had one last look at Mount Temple which was a steadfast the entire day.  With just a couple of clicks to cover we just made business of it and dealt with it.

We were well into early evening by the time we completed our adventure.  I was very thankful it was over and glad to be able to sit on something soft with my boots off and head home.  We had an incredible experience.  With a great group of troopers, many memories were created to carry forward.      It is days like this one that I make sure to appreciate even more and be thankful for.  We had everything on our side and we worked together to execute a flawless adventure.  

Thank you for today!