Monday, July 15, 2019

The Windtower July 14, 2019

I had heard the word Windtower a few times over the past few weeks and it was coming at me from different directions.  Then my friend put a Windtower shout out which I heard loud and clear and I hopped on board to hit that place. I had last been up Windtower back in September of 2013 so I looked back at what I had to say about that day and also because it was an official coordinated event I checked out all those details too.  Lots has changed since I was last there.  The trail from West Wind Pass to just before the last gradual climb is now a whole different ball game with lots more hands on sections, long torn up sections of trail and a scree bash on steep sections. It was not near as user friendly as I remember it was on that September day years ago.  What we did find today though was lots to love 💖about being "out & about" here.  
We geared up on the side of the road under warmth from the sunshine.  ðŸŒž
We ascended right from the get-go and before too long, we needed to delayer.  I liked what I was seeing, yes there are those white wispy fluffy clouds.  I stated I was taking photos now because who knows what this might look like on the way day.  This was the view behind us looking down onto Spray Lake.
We opted to pass right on by West Wind Pass in favour of reaching the summit of Windtower.  The weather was to be on our side for the morning and into the afternoon.  Here you can see the Pass at the right and that's Rimwall at the left with grey Little Sister peaking out.
It was so calm we were afforded reflections.  
Spray Lake is one long lake and this is just a portion of it.
We took a short break at a grassy knoll.
Then it was all business to find our way through more little scramble sections and up through the scree sh**.  About twenty minutes before the summit the trail became friendly and we just carried on to the top.  Sweet summit beauty with The Rimwall, Three Sisters, Wind Ridge and Canmore down below.
my Windtower summit shot ⛰
There are two rock shelters on the summit, the top one was occupied so we took the second one just below it.  The trio + dog in the top one lingered and lingered and lingered.  Then they left and a few minutes later right behind us, he was down!  Yes, down on one knee proposing and she declared "YES"💍! We finished dining and then scoped out the summit edge for photos.

view from the summit edge
climbing bolt
our group photo on the top of Windtower
feeling high and like we can fly 
We made it down to the plateau area with Mount Lougheed off in the distance.  That little tiny brown bump at the left base of Lougheed is Mount Allan.  We meandered along the grassy slopes below Lougheed for a little while, all the while now watching the dark clouds dance about.
view off to many peaks and ridges
deja vu just like in the Dolomites  ðŸŽ¶"the hills are alive"🎶
There were a few great finds hiding in the meadow.  
I found this heart shaped rock!
My friend found this fossil!
lots of wildflowers 🌻
We carried on with purpose from the meadow back to the trail and through all the cra* sections.  We wanted to be off that before any rain came our way.  It was easier getting back to West Wind Pass.  We explored the area and had a snack before making our way down the last stretch through the forest.  
A few minutes before the end we got lightly sprinkled upon.  We were thankful to be finished and to have been able to experience the best weather of the day for our entire adventure.   It's been a year since I retired and I am truly enjoying this style of work that I now perform on weekdays.  Days like these are treasures!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Mount Bourgeau July 11, 2019

One message to him, a reply back to me, a couple of days later a confirmation was made and we were off to summit Mount Bourgeau!  While it was easy peasy planning it was tough work to execute.  For me it is early season to be attempting such distance and gain and for my friend this was to be his first hike with such a long distance and huge elevation gain since the summer of 2018.  We did have good conditions to perform the execution resulting in a rewarding feeling of great accomplishment.        
It was hot & humid already even with our early start.  We attacked the first long boring stretch up to Bourgeau Lake by catching up on lifes happenings.  There was lots to talk about and that was beneficial in distracting from the task in front of us.  There were warnings about high water along the way and that proved true at the crossing at the base of this waterfall.  We got across, got through much mud and carried on up.
Thinking we still had some gain and distance to do to Bourgeau Lake, it was a nice surprise when we came out of the trees and there was the meadow with the boardwalk leading to the Lake.  Here we noticed it to be much cooler.
 taking some time at Bourgeau Lake
 a marmot along the trail above the Lake
There were reports of snow patches on the way to Harvey Pass and there were two that we needed to traverse but they are not even worth mentioning.  We reached the lower Harvey Lake and could see a clear trail along the way up to the upper bench.  I was beginning to think now how nice it was to be here in early July when there is still snow.  It makes it a new experience compared to the three times I have been up here years ago.
We arrived at the bench above the lower lake.  Notice the watermelon snow in the middle.  It was time again to take some time, this time to sport an additional layer and to fuel up.   My choice today was to fuel up on turkey bacon covered with peanut butter and a few salt covered pretzels.
We continued on with our day hiking onward and upward to the upper Harvey Lake.  It was a sight to see being emerald in color with ice floating in it.  On the way up the ice was at that far end but on the way back the ice was at the other end.  It was very windy in this area and we assumed the wind blew the ice across the lake.
The higher we climbed the windier and colder it got.  We stopped again to add on yet another layer.  My friend spotted a ptarmigan.  It took a few seconds for me to see it as it blended in with the rocks.  Half white, half brown, yes it still feels like winter this high up.
We are now able to see forever.  
Here you can see on the left the road that goes up to the Sunshine Ski Hill.  
It was over there somewhere where I wandered about on Tuesday.
The closer to the summit we got the more short tiny breaks I needed.  It was also very scenic with an abundance of opportunities for great photographs.  There was still snow on the edges with great big cornices as you can see behind me.
 We made it!  WOW!  Holy Doodle!  Amazing!  
This is our jubilant group shot on the summit of Mount Bourgeau!
We took shelter behind the weather station with this being our dining time view.  You can see Mount Assiniboine on the right. I devoured half of my turkey, chicken, ham, cheese sandwich, more turkey bacon covered in peanut butter, a bunch of apple slices, some pretzels, a fruit bar and a handful of bar-b-qued chips.  
 We strolled along the summit ridge to the far end to enjoy a different view from another angle.  
 I preferred to safely sit on the summit cairn!
 looking back at the summit, the weather station and the cornice
 After almost an hour at the summit, we began the descent.  
You can see the emerald upper Harvey Lake in the lower left of the photo.
 There is Bourgeau Lake in the middle bottom on the top part of that grey section.
Now back down at the bench plateau area above the lower lake, we took another break. It was time to shed extra layers and fuel even again because we still had a long way to go.  I had much of the same as I had on the summit but in addition to that my friend handed out Italian chocolates!
We got back down to Bourgeau Lake and made a very quick consensus to just hike on by it.  We continued on and headed into the trees for the long boring stretch where once again we carried on with catching up.  At a last open section I noticed the paint brushes which I did not notice on the way up.  I needed a photograph of this as the colors were wonderful with the lighting at this time of early evening.
What an accomplishment!  It was good to be done!  My "dogs were barking" (sore feet from all the rock),  and I was a sweaty mess.   I savoured getting those boots and socks off and putting on my pink/orange compression sport socks for that comforting hug on my calves, ankles and feet.  When I finally sat down in my friend's vehicle, I sighed!

Thank you so much for sharing this day with me! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Sunshine Meadows July 9, 2019

I like being up on top of the world in all seasons.  I like the feeling of being so high.  I like being up there where you can see forever.  I love when you don't have to put in the hard work to get there! Hiking through Sunshine Meadows on a summer's day, up where the Sunshine Ski Hill is, makes me feel like I am on top of the world!  It cost you dollars to get there but it is worth every cent.  I produced my Drivers License and got the Alberta Residence Discount to ride the gondola up to Sunshine Village.  I knew right away this was the day to be here.  It was very warm at the Village, it was quiet, and the sun was shining.    
Today's plan was to hike the loop around the three lakes first and then hike on over to the Monarch Lookout via Twin Cairns to Monarch Lookout Trail, finishing up by descending the Meadow Park Trail thus completing a great big loop.
 the trail that leads to Rock Isle Lake with a view of Mount Bourgeau behind me
After the gradual ascent up to where you can see forever, Rock Isle Lake comes into view.  Before arriving here, I wondered what it would look like today and would there be loads of people in the area.   I arrived to see it looking as clear and sheer as a pane of glass.  Even better there was no one to be seen.
The trail climbs a tiny bit and then loops around to the back side of Rock Isle Lake.  Here you get a view off to The Monarch and the Monarch Ramparts.  The damage done by that fire back in 2017 is still visible on the slope which leads down to Eohipus Lake.
 The next lake in the loop is Grizzly Lake. 
That 2017 fire reached the shore.
 I took the short detour off to the Simpson Viewpoint.  
As far as you can see down along the Simpson Valley the damage from the fire is visible.  
Next you come to Laryx Lake.  The Sunshine People put a few benches in a cleared area that make a perfect spot to sit awhile and snack and savour scenery.  It was incredibly peaceful as I was on my own with only two others that hiked on by.
 The Monarch and her Ramparts reflecting in Laryx Lake
 taking even some more moments at Laryx Lake
 The paintbrush wildflowers are only beginning to open up.
After completing the loop of the three lakes I took the left trail from the intersection that would lead me out to the wide open meadow section.  The trail is called The Monarch Lookout Trail.  I hoped for flowers and big puddles.  
 "walking on sunshine and don't it feel good"
The Sunshine Meadows crosses back and forth over The Continental Divided and from Alberta into British Columbia and back and forth again.  That is Twin Cairns behind the sign.  When I am looking for a weather forecast for this area on Mountain Forecast,  I always put in Twin Cairns.
wide open meadow with lots of little bridges 
This section of Sunshine Meadows only opened a few days ago due to being very wet.  
It is still wet with lots of gigantic puddles but they are off trail.  
a path is cleared to reach the Monarch Lookout
I reached the Monarch Lookout and then carried on down towards Simpson Pass.  
I did not go to the Pass but to an area where there are views and a place to sit for some time.  
The views are amazing here
a perfect place to sit and put my feet up
expressing my love for everything about this day
thousands of glacier lilies were in full bloom all over the place
I dined and then I dashed off to the Meadow Park Trail
The descent along the Meadow Park Trail is just short of two kilometers.  I arrived back at Sunshine Village and sat at a picnic table to snack and enjoy the sunshine.  I people watched, by now there were loads to watch.  Ready to call it a day, I hopped on a gondola for the ride back down to the parking lot.