Monday, February 28, 2011

So Far... good...
...yet slowly but surely...

If you have been following my blog, then you know no matter what the weather, I have been "Out & About in 2011"!  I cleaned up the comments section and decided to share those this time around.   It's been a fun, adventurous couple of months and if I have any say in it and control over it, the next two will be just the same.  If you want a larger look at the details, you're just one click away. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Against All Odds!

At the day's end when chatting about what we experienced and how we would describe it, the words "survival of the fittest" and "against all odds" were thrown out there.  I found the true meaning of "against all odds"  to be "despite seemingly insurmountable opposition or probability",  and have to say that accurately describes today's adventure.  Wandering  around Waterton in the dead of winter has to be one of the wildest and wackiest, not to mentioned windiest adventures I have ever experienced!

We were on a mission and nothing was going to stop us!  
No fence nor snow bank was high enough to deny us going the distance!
Herds of Angus cows couldn't block our way or our view!
We worked our way through white outs!
Added to that mix of obstacles, we scurried away from a possible gas bar robbery, dealt with the intimidation of an eagle protecting its' nest and came out unscathed from a swervy, curvy, twirly, swirly roadway encounter.  Not all obstacles had successful surpasses so now have head bangs, bruised bodies and shattered glass to contend with in the aftermath!    But...we did enjoy the journey to our major destination!  No body was home in Waterton, there were no sales in the outdoor store,  a snow bank blocked our way from picking up souvenirs and it was a good thing we topped up the gas tank elsewhere.  
Waterton was an eerie ghost town that gave off a surreal feel and I loved it!
After five hours, and beating the odds so far, we searched for a little warmth and shelter. 
We opted to have our late lunch in the vehicle before exploring around the town site.  If you have ever been to Waterton and know what the main street is like, you probably cannot imagine being lost on it in a whiteout!  Believe me, it's possible! I had to get out in my bright pink jacket (the only color to be seen) to give direction a mere 5 feet ahead, of where the road was and where to drive.  We found our way to the Akamina Parkway which was cleared for most of the way and afforded us an overview of the town.
We dropped by the boat dock to find it snowed under!
This was as close as we could get to the Prince of Wales Hotel!
Camping season is well off in the distant future!
As the daylight hours were drawing to a close, we agreed we were ready to leave Wild Waterton and hit the highway home.   On the outskirts of the Park, we took one last look!  This view left me with the feeling that I didn't have enough and want to return one weekend before winter winds down and preferably when the windchill is not -40C and the wind is not gusting to 110 km/hr.
"Against All Odds" was a fitting opening to our day and we earned "Survival of the Fittest" as an ending remark for beating those odds! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ready for the Weekend!

I'm ready for the weekend, but need to get through today first!


Could we possibly end up in a place with a view like this?

Stay Tuned!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Skating 'til my heart's content!

Fifteen kilometers was how far it took!  

When I went to bed last night, I had a plan in place for today and that was to either hike up Prairie Mountain or skate at the Bowness Lagoon and I would make the final decision when I woke!    I was feeling lazy so went the route that would take the least amount of effort.  Skating!  I was the first in the parking lot and the first to make etchings on the ice.  Iceman was doing one last lap of flooding, I didn't wait for him to finish! 
The canal was open for about half a kilometer and I ventured down there a few times.
This was my first time on skates this season and it was a great way to spend the morning of Family Day.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Close Quick Escape

I didn't have time for a full day, far away, mountain escape today so the next best thing was a couple of hours, close by, hill escape! Believe it or not hiking through Nose Hill Park can feel like an escape, especially when you retreat to the valleys and ravines.  We were not fooled by the bright sunshine and posted temperature of -11C (+12F) and came prepared dressed for and with a plan for the windchill factor of -23C (-9F). 

By retreating to the valleys and ravines, we could escape the city and the wind but not the sunshine.  There was method to our madness.
Usually on Nose Hill you see deer or coyote but for the first time ever on the Hill, I saw a porcupine.  Just like the link here says you may think it's a nest at first yet upon closer observation by zooming in with my lens, there it was, a porcupine scratching its nose and eating.
We got a little closer, still staying at a safe distance, to observe it.  This was the highlight of the day!
Staying in amongst the trees in the valley, we found our visual escape from the city but had reminders off and on with audio reminders that we were still in the city.  The Heritage Classic was getting under way and the sounds from McMahon Stadium were blown our way when the wind blew in our direction.  After exploring for about 90 minutes, we climbed out of the valley, faced the cold and the wind to retreat back to our vehicles.  Just short of two hours was all it took to feel refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to face the reality of city living again!

Getting What You Want From A Run!

It's been ages since I ran by the river and I knew this morning would be perfect for it, if I timed it right!  I layered up with four on top and three on bottom, my extra heavy mittens neck gaiter thick hat.  With camera in hand,  I hit the trail just as the sun was coming up.  I was on a mission!

I wanted that "alpenglow" effect! It appeared right at the start!

I wanted that "frosty" look off the river! Got it with an added bonus in the background!

I wanted that "high" at the end!  You can see it in my eyes and cheeks!

I wanted a "short and easy" run!  My Garmin says success there!
I know what I want, and I know how to get it!
Well, that is when it comes to running and taking pictures!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No procrastinating this morning once I realized the wind had died down. I quickly geared up and raced out the door! Those were the only things fast about my run this morning. Once outside and onto the main drag, I was slipping and sliding all over the place and did much more walking then I intended to do. At least it was sunny and warm and I could even enjoy the walking sections.

Not only does my time reflect walking intervals, it also shows I have not been running regularly. Five to six kilometers ever other Sunday is what I have been accomplishing if you consider that an accomplishment. I didn't use to, but I do now!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


When the reality of the day turns out being "not what you hoped for", "so far removed", "not even remotely close", "not what you dreamed of", yet you still laughed, smiled, enjoyed,  exercised, saw pretty sights and unusual sights, I would say, that is knowing how to make the best of what you are dealt and appreciating life and the little things no matter what!
The closer we got to our planned trailhead, the stronger the wind became giving us white-out conditions at times with slippery roads.  Just short of our rendezvous spot, we pulled off to wait for the others, with intentions of discussing aborting the original plan for something some where milder.  The snow squalls along with the sun effect made for a dramatic appearance worthy of a photo.  As I opened the door to retrieve my camera from the back, the wind took hold of the door and I held onto the handle for dear life as the wind was whipping me away.  The driver leaned over and pulled me back in, good thing he's a strong fellow.  That was the tipping point, that definitely we needed out of there!  The others never did arrive, or so we thought and hoped for! A call was placed and off we went.

One thing that did hold true, our new plan of attack also had a creek crossing right from the get go.  The plastic bag holds my snowshoeing boots and dry socks while crossing in old hiking boots.  The water was frigid and I would not have wanted a wider crossing this time of year.   We changed into our dry boots, left the wet ones in a secure place to put back on for the return creek crossing.
Photo by Adventure Designer!
We followed the Lower Cataract Creek Trail taking turns breaking trail in the deep snow.  There were lots of animal tracks of different kinds but no people tracks and we assumed no one had been here in months.  We wondered what our friends were doing, since we never did meet up, and hoped they found some nice place to explore, like we did!
We picked a turn-around time of 2:30 and where ever we ended up that would be our summit for the day.  We saw unusual sights along the way.  I thought I better snap shots of the little things because we would not be having big mountain views on this day.
Upon our return snowshoe back, we met up with the others.  They tracked us down!  We all had stories to tell.  

If at any point in a day, I have the opportunity to just sit quietly in a place, away from all the cares and stresses of everyday life, then I have found a treasure.  Today's treasure!  In a place like this, I can feel like I am "on top of the world" even if I have only covered 254 meters of elevation!
Isola Peak will always be there and just know that we will be back one day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Almost Being There...

...was as amazing as being there!  Check out the google earth photo attached below and you will see how close we came to reaching the summit of Rummel Ridge today!  While some were disappointed we didn't reach the summit, others considered it a day of summiting in their own personal way whether it be the place we arrived at and actually stood at or where the scenery and physical effort took us mentally!

I was one of the fortunate ones to have summited today!  I knew it when I arrived exhausted, a short distance above tree line, to a wide open space and I turned around and saw this!   It took 5:13 (includes a 20 minute break along the way) to arrive here, only covering 3.7km and 560 meters of elevation.   When it was looking like we were not going to reach the top, it was a view like this that I wanted now more than anything!
For five hours and thirteen minutes, we took turns with each of us taking 10 to 20 minute turns, breaking trail uphill through knee high to thigh high deep snow.  All the while, we were in dense forest.  I couldn't resist shaking a tree or two after all it's fun to frolic in a winter-wonderland.  After voicing excitement a few times, my friend announced he had a new nickname for me - "melodramandra"!  Yet another friend renamed the creek valley we were following - "Andra Canyon The Joy of Life"!  I will accept these as compliments in the spirit which I hope they were meant.
After all the hard work and snow play, here I am at my summit place!
Being a group of experienced mountain folk, knowing safety is always of the utmost importance, we choose not to push on to the very top even though it was right there in front of us, a very very short distance away.   We used up much more than our allotted ascending time, which meant time was no longer on our side.  At times you swallow your pride, decide this isn't the day to reach the top and you turn around and head back so you can be in the mountains playing another day real soon.

Now we had nothing but a quick downhill ahead of us.  What took us 5:13 to ascend only took us 1:25 to descend.  I was happy the hard work was over and now we could celebrate!  Thank you for safely getting us off the slippery Smith Dorien into Canmore for our earned reward.  My hat goes off to you also for your cautious driving in blizzard like conditions the majority of the way back from Canmore to Calgary!

Safe play!  
Safe drive!  
We live to play another day!  

yellow star marks our destination