Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Hallowe'en Morning Run

I was asked yesterday if my gloves glow in the dark!  I tested them out as I began this mornings run, and yes, they glow in the dark!  I had fun with my camera on last Sunday's run, so decided to take it along this again this morning.  I did a neighbourhood route with intentions of checking out scary decorations.
I ran towards NoseHill and the way the sunrise was shining on it, amazed me! I felt like I was running in canyon country in Utah.  
Even Calgary Transit was getting in on the fun of Hallowe'en!  This sign on the bus scared me when I ran by it!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hallowe'en High

I was determined I was going to hike this weekend, come hell or high water!  I was prepared to solo to a summit somewhere, but when I found out that friends were heading to King Creek Ridge, a place I have been wanting to go to, I was on board!  Well!  As it turns out, we did  have some hell and a little high water and I was on board, a piece of board, a broom stick!

Right from the King Creek parking lot, our ascent started!  It was relentless! We covered a large portion of the elevation over a short period of time, which brought us to amazing views quickly.  Here you can see the Kananaskis Lakes in the distance.  Note, we are higher than the clouds that hoover over the mountain range at the far end of the lakes.  Note too, if you look at the middle of the long brown road that runs perpendicular to the mountains and where it forms the letter "u" to the right of it, you will see where we parked the cars.
Hallowe'en is all about hell and the devil, scray places and people and things.  While tomorrow is Hallowe'en, some of us felt the effects of it today.  You never know what lurks in the mountains especially at this time of year.  
On our final push to the summit, the view became spectacular!  It was a beautiful autumn day on our ridge with no snow and lovely warm temperatures when not far to the west on other ridges, winter it is!  The mountain colors of gold, bronze and silver gave the feeling of an olympic sized day!
I was flying high when we reached the summit!  It was a place to feel high today, with a 360 degree view under a clear blue sky, we had a sparkly birthday celebration in honour of Srambled Legs.   It was quite gusty at the top which made for perfect flying conditions but not for lounging around for long conditions.  After lunch and our celebration, we began our descent.
I took one last look up and across at Opal Range before it was time to keep my eyes down for the careful and hellish at times descent into the gully.  It was steep and slow going.  I needed my poles all of the time, my microspikes for part of the time, and a hand to hold in one very very short section.  Thank you for the helping hand!  
We dealt with hell, now comes the high water!  We followed King Creek back to the trail head where we had many creek crossings using rocks as stepping stones and logs as bridges. These were slippery at times and some friends found out how high the creek water actually was.  The Creek wound through the most amazing canyon which I believe is worthy of a photography hike all of its own.  
King Creek Ridge and Creek and Canyon were gorgeous places to be today! 
A few of us stopped at the Pub for drinks and dinner for a toast to our adventure!  I love when at the end of a day, you realize that it was special and a perfect one.  They don't happen often, but when they do I am so very thankful.  Today I was flying so high that I felt like I was "on top of the world"!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Photo Story of Today's Run

I really needed this morning's run!  I didn't care what the weather or how I felt, it was going to happen!  Sometimes it is hard to be motivated to run and get myself out the door so there was no way what-so-ever I was going to let my mind veer in the direction of spinning excuses not to go!  I just went!  

I did need my reflector because it was dark and the fog was dense!
 I had the trail to myself!  I felt the moist fog on my face!
 It began to brighten up and the trees look pretty!
 I ran through the leaves, just because!
 Hallowe'en!  A week from today!  BooWooHoo

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Discovering New Mountains and a New Me

It is endless!  I'm talking about the number of mountains we have in the Canadian Rockies that are climbable!  When a friend put the suggestion out there to take on Wind Tower, I jumped at the opportunity.  That was the first I had heard of Wind Tower.  I checked out all my reference guides for that area and the only thing I could find was the trail marked on the Canmore and Kananaskis Village GemTrek Map.   If you check the left side of my blog, I added a new gadget "How To Get On Top Of The World" that lists my current selection of resources for getting me to the top.  

O.K. on with the day!  The trail head is along the Smith Dorrien Highway roughly a kilometer past the sign for the Driftwood Day Use Area if you are coming from Canmore.  The pink star marks our destination for today.   The trail to reach the star is considered a Class 1 scramble, in other words, steep hiking with a few easy scrambling sections.   
Before hitting the trail, I took a quick peek at the Spray Lake from eye level, while waiting for my friends to gear up.  The Lake looked so calm and pretty.  Very soon it will be a sheet of ice and snow with dogs running over it pulling sleds.  
After winding through the trees, we reached Wind Pass where the size of the Spray Lake became obvious.  I was in awe of the scenery, and not paying attention that I should have changed the setting on my camera to cloud to get a better shot.  From here on in, we just had the steep climb with views of forever.  
My thinking was of a place called Wind Tower, I better come prepared with an extra brick in my pack and lots of layers.  For the better part of our time owning the summit, the place didn't live up to its name.  Ever since summiting Ha Ling Peak and peering over its edge, this will be my new safe and within my comfort zone method of seeing what is down below.  I am laying on that pink star you see in the first photo at the top.
It is as straight a down drop as it could possibly be.  I could see Canmore away off in the distance.  
After all the peering down photos, lunch and group photos, I got my summit shot taken at the summit cairn.  From this point on, we made the quickest descent I have ever done.  I kept wondering what was the rush, I wanted to take more photos and enjoy the scenery.  Instead, I was watching my foot and pole placement as we scurried with heals first into the scree then watching my foot and hand placement on the easy scramble down sections.  
More and more lately, I am becoming picky on how I want to spend my play time.  Call me selfish or tell me I think its all about me and at this point in my life, I would probably agree with you.  Maybe this is something that comes with age.  Today it hit me stronger then ever and I realized what is truly important to me when I am playing in my playground.   While I enjoyed today to a certain extent, and was thankful in some ways, I felt disappointed in other ways.  I realize that when I go with others, that I need to be a part of the whole experience and that means giving up some things that are important to me when I play in the mountains.  I know now that I have some work ahead of me, to find a happy medium which I am not sure of what that looks like right now! 

I am always thankful that I have my health and the time and the money to live out my passion!

Friday, October 22, 2010

From Someone Who...

...often is in places that make you feel like you are "on top of the world" to those that have actually been "on top of the world"!   I only want to dream about the "top of the world" where these people I met today have been!  I admire them!  They are an inspiration!  Today I got to shake their hands!

When I reached the summit of North Kent Outlier, I called it "My Everest"! 

When I placed my foot on the very top of East End of Rundle, I called it "My Everest"!

When I went as far as I felt I possibly could on Mt Lady McDonald, I called it "My Everest"!

When I attacked and conquered Angels Landing, I called it "My Everest"!

What do these people I met today at the Atmosphere store call their Everest?  Mt. Everest!  They are summiteers.  They have all reached the summit of Mt Everest.  They were in town to attend the  Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation Gala and Auction which Atmosphere is sponsoring and money raised is used to assist the Sherpa people in Nepal  with their health care, education and environmental projects.

In the photo below are Byron Smith, Mingma Tenji Sherpa, me, Ang Dorge Sherpa and Apa Sherpa.

They autographed photos, obligingly posed for photo after photo, they answered questions and even asked questions.   This was my first time meeting Sherpas.   I have read many books, watched lots of documentaries on T.V. about climbing Mt Everest and even followed expeditions and there is always the talk of Sherpas.  They were everything I expected.  They are gracious and humble gentlemen.

What a line up!
I felt so fortunate to be able to meet 50 year old Apa Sherpa who has summited Mt Everest 20 times, with his latest summit taking place this past May 2010.  At 40 years old,  Ang Dorge Sherpa has reached the summit 14 times.  His latest summit was May of this year.  He now lives in Washington and guides expeditions up Mt Reiner.  He, along with Mingma Tenji Sherpa accompanied Canadian home grown Byron Smith to the summit in May of 2000.   Both Byron Smith and Mingma Tenji Sherpa live in Alberta, Byron in Vulcan and Mingma Tenji in Calgary.  

Today I felt "on top of the world" being in the company of those who have been "on top of the world"!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Finding Fabulous

Today was no challenge what-so-ever to embrace when you find fabulous very early on along the way as you hike/scramble to the summit of Mt. Saint Piran.  We had everything in our favour:  perfect weather conditions, spirited and enthusiastic friends, the trail almost to ourselves, even better then that,  we owned the summit!
The first portion of the trail was a very familiar route, we followed the Lake Louise shoreline for a short distance then veered off along the trail towards Mirror Lake where we stopped for a few minutes then carried on to the Little Beehive.  From here on in to the summit was new to me.  We followed switchbacks through the trees, then once above the tree line, I found fabulous!  V-Joy reminded us to look back every now and then, and when I did I saw this.  At this point, I am looking back and down to a place I went to a few weeks ago.  If you look closely at the end of the rounded mound at the bottom right, that is the Big Beehive with the gazebo perched on top.  Below it is little Mirror Lake and big Lake Louise.  I thought I was high when I was on the Big Beehive!
The trail above the tree line was narrow and covered in a skiff of snow but was all switchbacks.  As we neared the summit, there were a few spots where I used my hands mainly for support in climbing over slippery large boulders.  After just over 900 meters of elevation and roughly 6.5 kilometers, we reached the summit of Mt. Saint Piran.  After a few woohoos and yahoos, everyone got quiet and went off in different directions for a few minutes.  We had an unbelievable 360 degree view.  Now this was truly finding fabulous!  I could never find the right words to explain how I felt reaching a summit but I think I have now.  They are words expressed by philosopher William James as described by the Copelands in the opinion section of Mt. Saint Piran in their book Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies.

"We ascend thirstily for the ineffable ecstasy that well up within during intimate communion with mountain wilderness." 

I know this was what I was experiencing in my quiet moments off by myself!  I wonder if my friends were too!  Once we all came together again, I got my victory summit shot taken in front of Mt. Niblock.  This was our dining spot, with no wind and mostly sunshine.  We owned it for 45 minutes.  
We had gorgeous views in all directions.  This was my favourite!
Although it is still Autumn, it looks like it is approaching winter.  I zoomed in to get a close up of all these icicles.  The distant mountains have a light covering of brand new snow.  I thoroughly enjoyed admiring this in my quiet time.  The whiskey jacks were plentiful and pestering looking for food to fatten up for the long cold winter.   
As usual, the ascent was quick, which allowed us time to take a detour to Lake Agnes on the way down and spend some time.
I know I will go back to Mt. Saint Piran one day preferably in the summer when there is more time to follow along a saddle and descend another route.  I know now too, this is one I would do annually and even go solo.  Today I got so high, I felt like I was "on top of the world!"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Party Place

Not only was today's hike,  a hike to enjoy views, exercise, escape the concrete jungle and socialize, but it was an opportunity to share in a birthday celebration!  The venue was to be at the old Cameron Fire Lookout on top of Mount Burke.  The pink star marks our destination.  I hiked there before, one and a half times.  The first time it was cloudy, foggy, windy, rainy, cold and the half time it was so snowy we deemed it unsafe to carry on past the tree line.  I hoped Mother Nature would cooperate today!
For the first few kilometers, we followed Salter Creek before veering off and starting our ascent along switchbacks through the forest.  Here we were protected from Mother Nature, but once above the tree line and out into the open the wind was fierce.  At least we had part sun part cloud, no rain, no fog.  After three hours and just under 900 meters of climbing, we reached our destination.  I was the first to arrive and got my summit shot dealt with while I waited for the others.  For added security, I held on to the cable,  I wanted to stick around for the party!
There wasn't much protection in the old Lookout but I hung out in there for a few minutes while I waited for the others to arrive.  After this last hump, they had one short bit to climb to the summit.
He's ascending quite quickly considering the heavy load on his back, but he wants to get things set up to start his birthday celebration.  The decision was made there was more shelter behind the solar panel structure then there was in the Lookout so that became the designated party place.
The boogie box was set up and the music started.  We ate our lunch and danced a little all while the chocolate was melting.  Once it was ready, we celebrated with a fondue!
The party lasted for awhile and the longer we stayed, the colder a couple of folks got.  Those with extra cloths shared them, the rest of us were fine.  I think a lesson or two was learned today that one should always go prepared because you just never know, the weather can change so quickly.  

The birthday celebration was an extra reason to embrace today!
We went for a quick descent along the open stretch, only stopping once for a group photo then again to delayer when we were back into the shelter of the trees.  We followed an already braided trail straight down crossing over the switch backs and then took a cut line for the balance of the way which brought us out to the parking lot near the campground.  We just had a kilometer to walk to our vehicles from here.  This descent route cut off close to two kilometers.  

While I have learned to treasure the time I spend hiking solo, I truly enjoy being in the company of others.  I always seem to learn something new and make new friends and that alone makes these hikes special!