Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Full Day

For a day that was on the verge of turning into being uneventful, it sure ended up being one that was full of everything!  With a couple of late night then early morning emails, the day was saved!  My experience has been that last minute, down to the wire plans, can for a large percent of the time turn out to be treasures and today proved that point.

Ms-D-No-Stopping-Me and I set out to "embrace today"!  Leaving the city early paid off as we were the first snowshoers of the day on the Chester Lake trail.  Seeing blue sky, feeling no wind, sensing the warm sun, we knew we were in for a full day! 
full of color
The first portion of the trail is uphill in the forest and it's along here that I am always full of anticipation knowing once you reach that first alpine meadow, the scenery will be beautiful.  While there was a good amount of snow in the forest, the meadows were windswept.  We dropped our packs and spent photography time here where Mount Galatea and Mount Chester were at their best.
full of beautiful scenery
We were thankful for a day full of sunshine!  If you saw us playing with our shadows, you would think we never saw one before.   The conversation sounded like this "stand here", "do this", "put your arm like this", "I can't see your hat", "move closer", "how about this", "with our poles"!  We had long shadows, short ones, wide shadows, funny ones and crazies too!
full of sunshine
We were full of cheer!  High on life itself today!  The snow and the mountains turn me into somebody I remember being like when I was five years old.  The splashes of color sure looked nice against the new white snow.  Speaking of new, the new pink hat was a hit for my friend.  I'm thinking its a keeper!
full of cheer
We passed by Chester Lake and snowshoed up to the elephant rocks.  We followed a trail to the back side of the rocks which was a different way then I have ever gone.  It gave a whole new perspective on their size and quantity.  This was a meadow chalk full of gigantic boulders.  We explored around them and then found a spot facing the sun where we set up our dining spot.  It was extraordinary to be here without wind!

After lunch we took the usual route back down to the lake and even broke out our crazy carpets to make for a quicker and fun ascent.  Not only was it my first snowshoe of the season, it was also my first crazy carpet trip.  Like all sports that you have been away from for awhile, it takes time to get the speed back and polish the technique to get it up to snuff.  I'm back in training and it feels good!

Today was full of so much fun!
While November started out balmy and unseasonal like, it sure took a quick turn near the end to the point where I was complaining about the cold and the snow.  Not any more!  I am ready to embrace winter!  Lucky me living so close to my playground in the Rocky Mountains!  I'm already looking forward to play time again!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Gem of a Day

As I drove west early this morning and the sun began to rise and shine, I knew we would be in for a gem of a day!  What else should you expect when you go to a place with a name like Emerald Lake?  This day turned out being extra-ordinary!  I checked out the meaning of "emerald" and was surprised to learn what it represents!  As you follow along with me on our day here, you will notice I emphasized the meaning of "emerald" with bold italics.

I was prepared for cold, snow falling, a frozen lake, carrying a backpack and wearing snowshoes.  The opposite, though, held true.  We began the hike at the head of the lake and this was one of the first views we had.  The bridge brings you to Emerald Lake Lodge in front of Mount Burgess.  
We started the loop in a clock-wise direction so we would come to the avalanche area soon and access if it was safe to carry on to do the full loop.  We determined it to be safe so followed along the edge of the lake where we had unobstructed views.
The far end of the lake looked like a winter wonderland!  The snow was brand new, it sparkled, and was untouched.
Once we crossed the bridge to the other side of the lake, we wound through a snow covered forest where the lake and the mountains peeked through every now and then.  There was enough snow that we needed our winter hiking boots.  It was a good test for my Valdez, and I now know they are keepers.
When we reached the lodge, we stopped in to check it out.  It just opened again for the season on November 17th, and is decorated in Christmas splendor.   It looked warm and inviting!   Maybe one day I'll stay!
Not only were the large views spectacular but the small things stood out too!
We completed the loop around Emerald Lake in two and a half hours.  Its posted as being 5.2 km.  This hike was more about photography, appreciating scenery and making the most of the unexpected gem of a day, than it was about distance or elevation.

Before leaving, I took a few minutes to absorb this beautiful and simple product of nature!  
Hiking around Emerald Lake wasn't the only gorgeous scenery we saw today!
One last place to check out scenery was from the Fairview Lookout which is a short trail that leads up and behind Lake Louise.  We didn't have a whole lot of time before the sun set, so made it a quick trip up.  From the Lookout,  I took one last look to the mountains and the sky as the sun begins to set.  Our timing was perfect and the conditions were perfect for the alpenglow show.   We stayed a few minutes to watch the presentation.
As the day ends and we begin the journey home,  I appreciate what a gem we had at Emerald Lake and our other stops along the way.  I could not have asked for anything to make our day more perfect.  Just then, the full moon peeks between the trees.  The power of the emerald is highest at the full moon!
The emerald has long been the symbol of hope.  My hope is that all of you get to have experiences in your life that lift you to a place that makes you feel like you are "on top of the world"!  The word emerald lived up to its meaning today!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Temple Topper

I enjoy making plans and having adventures to look forward to.  Anticipation makes up a large percent of the whole adventure package for me.  We have Christmas just down the road, (if you know me this is not something I get too excited about, maybe one day I will again though) then ringing in a New Year which I hope this year will be some kind of a mountainish, snowy sort of experience.  Once those are over with, then it is down to serious Moab in the Making for May.

I have another adventurous experience in the making for 2011!  I want to summit Mount Temple!  It is now on my to-do list and a goal to work towards.  This past year, I waffled on whether I wanted to work my way to the top of Mt. Temple.  As it turned out, I waffled my way right out of the idea.  After the success my friends had and they are now considered Mount Temple Summiters, I have had a change of heart.  I expressed this interest to a couple of friends and they quickly and eagerly jumped in saying they would do it again and accompany me and even freely guide if I needed to be told a thing or two. 

The window of opportunity is not wide for having a successful summiting experience.   Conditions need to be ideal to even make an attempt and that time period would be well into July when the winter snow has mostly melted and probably by the end of August before the new snow begins to fall.    I already know what weeks are available for me in July and August next year.  They are the weeks of July 25th, August 1st, August 22nd and August 29th.  Surely my stars will align one day during one of those four weeks. 
Next summer is still a long way off so until then, there will be lots of living life going on! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Great Day For 42K

I didn't want to pass up the opportunity for possibly one last bike ride before winter sets in.  Even though my head and body felt like one big ache from a cold, flu, whatever, I just had to do it!  The forecast was for gorgeous and I wasn't going to waste the day stuck inside.  To make it an easier ride, I packed the bike in the car and headed to the Curling Club to start from there.  This way I could avoid a few big hills and a detour.  

I headed east and then veered south.  I wanted to check out the new River Walk.  I was impressed!  

I thought Carburn Park would be a good destination and it was very pretty around there but I still had more ride in me before I was ready to turn around and head back.   I did have to walk my bike up a big hill.  My legs were burning along with my lungs.

I carried on to Fish Creek Park but I didn't get into it too deeply.  Just far enough to know I was there and to where there was a bench so I could sit and have lunch.   I wasn't keen to add on an additional 20km like I did the last time when I got lost there.
42 Kilometers turned out being a perfect length of a ride for today.  On the way back, the chinook winds started to roll in and I had to fight them.  I was pleasantly depleted by the time I was done.  
My bike is still at my front door.  Could I possibly have another opportunity to ride before the snow arrives?  

Friday, November 12, 2010

From Remembering to Not Forgetting

Yesterday was spent with friends acknowledging Remembrance Day.  Today was spent solo visiting Forgetmenot Pond.   I wanted to embrace today, with it being a day off work.  It was an easy day in every way, from getting ready to getting there.  I didn't need to make my lunch, I still had it left from yesterday when I put it aside after seeing what everyone brought to share for the pot luck.   The Pond is less than an hours drive from my home.   This was the first time I walked around the whole pond.  At every turn and at every angle, the scenery was so pretty.   

I had the place to myself!  Sometimes I like when that happens and today was one of those times.  I took time playing with my camera settings, trying to get perfect shots from my 9000.    I was pleased with what I came away with.  After my visit at the Pond, I strolled towards the big pink suspension bridge, following the rocky edge of the river.  Of course, I also had to stop off and see Elbow Falls.  

It's Friday!  A sunny day!  Pay day!  A vacation day!  Sure makes for easy embracing!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Remotely Wonderful Wilderness

Heading where we did today was unknown and unchartered territory for me.  For this reason alone, my anticipation level was high.  I did some research on my own about Black Rock Mountain, and when I came across some names of mountains and places in the vicinity, I thought this sounds like more of a Hallowe'en Hike then a Remembrance Day Destination.  We would be driving across the dried up Ghost River, heading towards Phantom Crag with a view of Devil's Head in the distance!

Getting to the trail head was half the fun.  If you check out my Google Map below, you will see we had to drive along a very rocky and bumpy dried out creek bed.  This was after winding our way behind Cochrane, through Benchlands and Waiparous, along Ghost River Road which was pot-holy, holy-moly, what a ride!  I wish I had my GPS running to record our route.  This is the gentle route across the dried Ghost River with Phantom Crag ahead of us.
We reached our parking spot which was right here in the middle of a dried up creek bed.  Our destination was very clear, a tiny brown dot underneath the pink star, which was roughly 5km to 6km away and just over 900 meters of elevation up.  
The first portion was through a forest with a gradual ascent.  I like when hikes start that way, it gives you a chance to build your momentum.  Once through the forest and over some rocky stuff and steeper sections, we took a moment to remember.  After all, it is Remembrance Day and not Halloween.  Adventurer Designer caught me in my moment!  Thank you for the photo!
Before carrying on, we layered up, big time.  It was wickedly windy with quite the wind chill.  From here on in, the scenery was wonderful and almost out of this world.  The snow on the plateau was wind-swept and sparkly.  The lone pinnacle stood at attention and we could see Devil's Head very distinctly in the distance.      
Once we made it up and through the gully and came out on the other side, our destination was very clear.  That still small looking dot on top of the standing alone Black Rock Mountain.  It still seemed so far away!
We took shelter inside for our pot luck celebration.  We were protected from the wind, but it was very cold.  I had all my 4 layers on and could have had more.  Lunch was delicious, colorful and on the decadent side.  It was on the quick side too, but no one complained.  We needed to get moving to get warm.  Before leaving, we got our group shot and I went for a unique summit shot this time around.  
We moved quickly away from the lookout to get the blood flowing and feel some warmth.  We veered off the trail along the edge of the plateau to get some amazing views.  When I looked back and up to where we just came from, all I could say was, well, I was speechless!  I knelt low for balance against the wind for this living on the edge shot.
What a wonderful way to acknowledge Remembrance Day?  
After 5 hours, we were back to the dried up creek bed.  The lighting gave that look of the sun getting ready to set.  It was now time to head home!  This Remembrance Day will be one I will always remember!
It was remote!  
It was wonderful!  
It was wilderness!  
I loved this place!