Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's Pay Back Time!

It's about time I give back to the running community after years of taking!  This time last year, for the first time, I volunteered at the finish line handing out medals.  It was such a rewarding experience that I jumped at the opportunity to do it again this year.  
I showed up at the finish line at 5:40 am to start unpacking, unwrapping and hanging the thousands and thousands and thousands of medals.  For a split second and only a split second I wished I was running the marathon today, then I came to my senses!   After the medals were hung, I had a bit of time to head down to the start and watch the runners take off.  For a split second and only a split second I wished I was running the half-marathon today, then I came to my senses!
It didn't seem long before the 10km runners started to come across the finish line fast and furious!  Then it was the half-marathons and the 5kms folks.  It got pretty crazy at times with all three distances coming in at the same time and then on top of that, my favourite medals to hand out, the full marathon runners started to trickle in.   
It's always nice to meet people who follow my blog!  Here's a shout out to you Susan!  Thank you for being a follower and a big congratulations on your race!  I was honoured to present friends with their well deserved medals, especially Amin, this was his first marathon and he did amazing.  I was happy to hand out hugs too, along with medals.   One marathon finisher was so happy, once I put the medal around his neck, he picked me up off the ground and swung me around in the air!  That was my high for the day!

As time passed, the number of marathons dwindled as did the volunteers handing out medals.  I signed up to stay until the end today and presented the last medal to the final marathoner around 1:45 in the afternoon.   I have paid off a little more that I owe to the running community but no where near debt free!   I'll be back next year! 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Aftermath Chaser

These Purposely Picked Places lately to Spend Saturday's Sauntering have been turning out to be Wonderfully Wickedly Wild!  Today's Corner of the back Country wasn't my Choice but it was my Choice to Come along and I didn't need much Coaxing or Convincing!  After All, if someone who Answers to the first name of Adventure, and Advertises for takers to join in a day Away from the city, there Ain't no way I'm staying home!

The past few days, Alberta has experienced crazy weather!  I'm not one to brave the elements as they are happening so I guess I would be called an "Aftermath Chaser"!  I was curious to see what my playground looked like after all that rain and snow.  The officials know there are folks like me so they warn us!  Some signs we obeyed, others we gambled on and won!  
Mother Nature can be so cruel!  It's May 28th, we should be picnicing, basking in the sunshine, wearing sandals, shorts and short sleeve shirts and slopping sunscreen on our skin. Today though, we were decked out in winter wear!  Thank goodness for all wheel drives and all weather tires.  We needed it "all" today!  In times of uncertainty, I led the way on foot, checking the depth of snow piles to drive through and the depth of water filled pot holes that could not be circumnavigated. In the third photo below, the hind end of the vehicle is actually in the air getting ready to hit ground after one big gigantic bounce!
Mother Nature can be so kind! She has a way with her, that Mother Nature does!  Just as you curse her for her cruelty, she presents you with a thing of beauty!  While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, surely you have to agree with me that wild horses, wild crocuses and a thawing mountain pond all bring a smile to your face.
It may be awhile before the mountains can be fully enjoyed by hiking!  They were covered with lots of new snow and it was even falling while we were passing through.  It was unusual to meet a snow plow at work creating large drifts at this time of year.  The driver didn't look happy!  I don't blame him!  I will admit, no matter what, I thoroughly enjoyed today!  There is something about not knowing what is around the next corner that makes my heart sing!  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

WATCH OUT at The Lookout

Those in the know say this year the snow free hiking won't come until the end of June into early July.  I am tired of the snow but I need my mountain fix so just have to bite the bullet and make the best of it.  We made the best of it hiking to the Kananaskis Lookout today.  The snow was firm for the ascent, but that was the only time and place it was. 
It was a slow go on the ascent as we followed a fire road and cross country ski trails in the trees with no views and lots of dirty snow.  It was not a pretty sight!  Yet, I was happy to be out with friends and getting caught up on what they have been up to.  The trail up was relentless in the snow, with one turn after another after another after another.  Finally rounding a bend there was The Kananaskis Lookout!
It is still closed for the season which meant we could own it today! I secretly hoped no others would show up and my hope came true!  We owned it! WATCH OUT!  I sunk to just above my knees in the snow as I worked my way to the mail box.  I checked the Visitor Book to see the last visitor was there on April 24th.  I'm sure as the snow melts and once the Operator moves in, many more folks will drop by for a visit.
There were nice dry areas around The Lookout to drop our packs and settled in for awhile!  Before having lunch, I took a tour and photos of all the sights.  
This is a happening place!
We took full advantage of owning the place!
90 minutes later, I have this to show for the time!
I was surprised with only 430 meters of elevation, we were afforded views like this.  The frozen Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes are starting to thaw.  
 Lucky you, who ever gets to operator this Lookout!
24-7 of this!
After spending 90 minutes at the Lookout, we hit the trail to head back.  I didn't want to leave!  As we approached the Campground near the end, my wish was that I was heading to my camp site for the night!  But, reality for today was to head back to the parking lot, hop in the car and drive home.  

Here's a reminder for all of you who park cars at trail heads!  Remember to lock valuables away out of sight or take them with you.  As we approached the parking lot, we came upon two fellows using tools to get into a little red vehicle.  My first thought was one guy locked himself out of his vehicle and his buddy was helping him get into it.  That's probably what they want folks to think!  As we got closer, they turned their backs, then both quickly hopped in the grey car parked beside the red car and took off.  I quickly went to my vehicle praying it was O.K. and it was.  If we didn't come along and scare them off, I may have been a victim!  

Today's distance, elevation, location, scenery and company were all perfect!
Thank you sharing today with me!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Holes & Needles May 10, 2011

With the clock ticking down and still so much to see, we planned to cover serious ground today!  For a change, we headed south and southwest.  Just south of Moab is this place built in the side of the rock.  Click on place to check out the story!   It took more of our time then planned but was well worth it and worth the $5.00 to go inside.
The Needles is another section of Canyonlands National Park.  It is not as busy as Island in the Sky, I don't know why.  It's not that far of a drive, it is gorgeous territory and offers a totally different look then Island in the Sky.  There are hiking trails, camp grounds, side of the road tourist sights and its own Visitor Center.

I read in a few places that Newspaper Rock is a sight to see.  It has the most petroglyphs in one panel in all of the Colorado Plateau.  
I have about six photos of the art, these are two of them.

The red rock views were spectacular!
From the articles I read, I didn't expect to get this close to the actual Needles.  These spires have been sculpted from water, wind and gravity.  This is only what my camera could capture, the line of needles continued on in both directions far beyond.
The scenic drive passed by many unusual places.  I love the location of this campsite.  Their tent is perched underneath the mushroom.  Many of the campsites looked like this one, very private and very picturesque.
At Elephant Hill, we found the perfect lunch spot. This was our view.  It amazed me where vehicles would go in Canyonlands.  This red truck drove up and over and disappeared.  I would love to know what is behind those formations.  Some day!
One campground had a campfire theatre.   The path alone leading to this site was the prettiest thing.
Cave Spring was another unusual place to hike through.
There were ladders to climb!
Slickrock to hike across!
Windows to peek through!
Low ledges to stroll under!
They were very low!  Ouch!
We spent a few hours discovering The Needles!  I know I would love to return to this area one day and complete a few hikes.  Maybe even camp or go jeeping!  It was time to leave and head north back to Moab.

Wilson Arch is just south of Moab.  We stopped there on the way down but the lighting was not the greatest.  Early evening gave us better light.  This time we climbed up to the arch for some photo shots.
Standing under it, I could see forever below and beyond!
Once back in Moab, we drove down Kane Creek Road and also out to Mill Creek Canyon.  Those two roads alone had sights to be seen.  We found the entrance to the famous Slickrock Bike Trail and drove in to see what it was all about.  The bike trails and scenery were out of this world.  No wonder bikers love it here!  We ended our day sight-seeing here.  As the sun began its descent, I took my last photo of the day, the slickrock framed by the La Sal Mountains!
What a wonderful last full day in Utah!  
It left me wanting more!
Some day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Cloudy Day in Utah May 9, 2011

I really needed an easy day after covering lots of ground being out and about the last few.  I still woke early but had a hard time getting going.  I could hear the showers outside and there was my motivation to lay low for another hour or so. When I finally did get going, there were a few places I wanted to see and there were enough of these places to fill the day.

I had been down the Potash Road when I did Corona Arch the other day but I didn't take the time to enjoy it then.   Now was the time!  It wasn't busy so I was able to stop and pull over where ever I choose.  The road winds between this rock face and the Colorado River.  On any given nice day, this wall is polluted with climbers as it was when I was here before.
There are many sections of the wall covered in petroglyphs.
This is just a small sampling!
My Arches pass was good for 7 days, so next on my list was to go back into the National Park and explore the areas I missed.   I parked at the Park Avenue Trailhead and strolled along the Avenue.  I was thankful for the chill in the air and the clouds covering the sun for a change.
These yellow flowers were the odd color along the Avenue.  
Sheep Rock
The Three Gossips
A little further down the road after Park Avenue was Balanced Rock which you could see from afar.  It looked securely in place from one angle but looked ready to topple from another view point.
I got an even closer view point and this was close enough for me!
While I was out doing my thing, so was Adventure Designer!  Funny thing, in such a big park with all the people, we ran into each other.  We spent time having fun at Sand Dune Arch.  See the sand at my feet!  Along the way, we made our plan for tomorrow and once that was done we went about doing our own thing again.
She recommended Skyline Arch.  I carried on to check it out.  This is my panorama view of the arch and then I hiked into it for a more intimate encounter.
It took a little scrambling over slickrock to get this close.  
It was now dinner time and I was depleted!  I picked up dinner at the grocery store to take back to my room.  I enjoyed a locally brewed Dead Horse beer while I put together tomorrow's gear, had my dinner, then went to bed and slept for 10 hours straight.