Sunday, May 23, 2010

Overcoming Obstacles

The first time a few weeks ago, when we set out to summit Old Baldy Ridge, we had to call it an "attempt" because we were not successful. The "danger" sign that greeted us at the trailhead was a sign right from the start. Today we were greeted with a different sign! A lucky horse shoe!
Luck doesn't always come handed on a silver plater or with its stars aligned. Sometimes it takes work to make luck happen. When you have a crew who is passionate about their playtime in the mountains, about adventure and reaching summits, then no obstacle thrown their way can stop them from achieving the goal they set for that day!

We spent just over 9 hours on the trail today, more than any of us expected or were prepared for. Our very first obstacle came early on in the trek when one of the crew traced the trail back looking for a lost camera. Quickly taking off on their own, which never should have happened. We hunkered down in a sheltered area waiting and waiting and waiting. After quite some time, two other crew members went back to search only to return without a third person. Concern set in, we all returned in search and finally, after 1.5 hours, we were reunited! Camera still lost though! Speaking for myself, I am not so sure our concern was appreciated. Speaking for myself, concern is mentally fatiguing. We put this incident behind us, we were now 1.5 hours behind, time to forge on, on a long day yet still ahead, to face what other obstacles we were beginning to realize.

It is the May long weekend in Alberta, so of course we should have expected snow. What else is new! It was that crystally snow, thigh deep, which doesn't support weight. We had a boulder field to climb up and another one to face us on the way down. I'm not sure how many kilometers we bushwhacked down through a steep dense forest. On top of all that, nearing the end when our legs and feet were tired and heavy, we had to climb over a field of downed trees. Mantracker's words for these trail conditions would be "all this shit"!
Just before reaching Old Baldy Ridge, we stopped at this cairn to admire the scenery and for photos. Thank you to Adventure Designer for "shooting me" as I did my admiring. Notice my patches of honour on the top of my backpack.
After a few more minutes of ascending a steep, snowy, slope, we reached Old Baldy Ridge.
We worked hard for our rewards today! Every step was worth it when you have views like these. This is the tarn! It was suppose to be our lunch spot but we had lunch long before we reached this point. The risk looked high for an avalanche on that side anyway.
Two very different mountain colors and formations!
A portion of the ridge was covered in a brand new snowfall from the night before.
We could see the Kananaskis Golf Course far below us.
In May, I would have thought all the cornices would be gone but they are still hanging in there. We followed the ridge top along side the cornice for a little while before beginning our descent. You can see Nakiska Ski Hill in the center.
Our descent took us over the steep long rock field which is called Flat Creek and through an even longer dense steep forest which we had to bushwhack our way down through. After more then 8 hours, we reached the bottom and still had to follow a real trail for a few kilometers. We were on the home stretch though, as were these folks. At this point, I would have preferred this mode of transportation.
At the beginning of the trail when we spotted the lucky horse shoe, one of the crew stated it was upside down so the luck had ran out. I choose to dismiss his comment and believe luck was on our side. Luck was on our side but we sure had to put in a full day of work to realize it! Yet, it was worth every second and every step!


  1. Wow that was quite an outing! Beautiful, very atmospheric photos with stunning views.

  2. What a grueling day - luckily you have the experience and endurance to deal with the unexpected and get home safely at the end of the day. Gorgeous pictures (and I've just been catching up on your Utah pics - breathtaking!)

  3. Good report Alexandra. Thanks for sharing! A great adventure again considering you spent about 9 hours on the trail through a wonderful place.


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