Thursday, June 30, 2011


By looking at my "OUT &  ABOUT in 2011" summary for June, it appears I don't have much to show for my time and now that I have introduced camping to the mix, my activity level will take a hit.  It's hard to find the time to fit everything in!  The total numbers at the bottom of the chart are cumulative for the year and no where near where they were this time last year.  
I Love July!
And this is why!
I signed up for peakery a while back and have enjoyed collecting badges when I reach summits.  The folks there are holding a contest during the month of July which gives us peak baggers a chance at winning great prizes.  I should clarify that I am not a peak bagger but I sure do love bagging peaks!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Small but Significant

No more big vacations for me this year since spending nine days in Moab in May.  I do have four small get-a-ways booked so far for this summer.  They are small in number of days and short in distance from Calgary but no less significant!  

I have a night of camping by a lake booked! Does this lake look familiar?  It's a place with amazing scenery, everything I need with in walking distance of where my tent will be.  I will get to experience sunset and sunrise by a lake surrounded by mountains right out my front door.
I will be waking up in my tent on my birthday!  My one night camping trip in June was so successful, it's time to try two consecutive nights car camping.  I even have the same site booked as before.
I already know two consecutive nights will be successful, so I am being optimistic and went ahead and booked four consecutive nights but this time around, I will be spending them car camping in Glacier National Park in Montana.  I booked a site at a larger campground where there will be lots of people and psychologically that makes me feel safer in bear country.
Then comes the most exciting small get-a-way!  A friend invited me to join her for two nights at the Elizabeth Parker Hut in Yoho National Park.  This hut is on the door step of Lake O'Hara.  To get the opportunity to spend nights here, you enter a lottery in December and keep your fingers crossed that your name gets drawn.  I am excited to hike in this area again and also to be here once all the bus people have left plus this will be my first time staying in one of the Alpine Huts of Canada!
I would still like a night away under the full moon and meteor shower in August.  A back packing over-nighter would be something new for me and something nice.  


Saturday, June 18, 2011

EXasperation at EXshaw

The plan of attack for today was to hike along EXshaw Creek, then get our EXercise following a trail up the steep slope to EXshaw Ridge, EXplore the length of the Ridge then EXit the Ridge along a defined trail ending up in the town of EXshaw!  Remember I said, that was our plan! 

Should one take a trail head sign like this to be a sign of what is to come?  The sign makers didn't know what to say, or how to say it, or how to describe it, or what direction to go or how many kilometers it was!  Good thing we went into this EXcursion with a map and gps and route finding EXperience.  
Only one of us was EXpecting many high creek crossings so came properly prepared, and it wasn't me!  I need to include a disclaimer here!  "Don't follow my EXample of how I EXecuted these creek crossings."  It wasn't pretty but I got the job done!  These are a few of the crossings.  Getting near the last of the creek crossings, I didn't care anymore about getting my feet wet and left my boots on.  It was EXhausting me with all the boots and socks off, boots and socks on, boots and socks off and so on and so on and so on!  
Thank you to "Ms D No Stopping Me" for the above photos!
After approximately five and a half hours and eleven kilometers, we reach the summit of the EXshaw Ridge.  It was EXciting to finally be high again and have amazing views of forever.   After lunch, we EXplored a bit further along the Ridge and that's where I found a good spot for my summit shot.
It took longer then EXpected to get to the Ridge and we saw a not so nice weather front coming our way, so we picked up the pace a bit as we carried on along the Ridge heading towards EXshaw Mountain.   We were surrounded by mountains, alpine meadows and crocus.
Mount Fable at the left.
I always EXpect to have great photo opportunities on ridge tops and today was no EXception!
I EXpected EXshaw Ridge to be rough and rocky. My EXpectations were EXceeded when we came upon this long grassy (with no snow) section.  
As we reached the end of the Ridge, it was later then EXpected, it was pouring rain, some of us were EXhausted so we decided to cut it short and head straight down to the trailhead.  As we got closer to EXshaw Mountain, it didn't look as big, so we decided to EXtend our time and distance to include the Mountain.  We needed our route finding skills for this steep, mossy, dense, rocky, root-filled slope.  

We finally EXited out into the townsite of EXshaw, almost in someones yard, not quite sure of what direction the trailhead was and where we were parked.  We figured it out pretty quickly, thank goodness, because I was on the verge of EXpiring!   After 10 hours of hiking, the last half in pouring rain, already wet and dirty from all the creek crossings, after brushing off ticks and popping Vitamin I for my banged up knee, I was EXhausted and EXasperated but I could still easily manage a smile!  Afterall, I finally got high again after a long time, and I felt like I was "on top of the world!"
Thank you to Adventure Designer for the above photo!
Our trail home was through the neighbourhood of EXshaw.  I'm sure the locals are use to seeing folks like us walking down the middle of their road but I wonder what they would think if they could hear our conversation! 
While we didn't attack our original plan as we EXpected to, we still EXecuted an adventurous EXcursion!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away!

The way things are going with spring hiking this year, if we wait for the perfect day, then you can kiss this hiking season good-bye!  We have learned to make the best of a situation, go prepared for anything, hope for the best, but most importantly, just go! We did all that then hit the trail just before 9:00am, with the rain pouring down, we had a plan of aiming for Ribbon Falls and venturing on further if conditions were suitable.

I have been to Ribbon Falls numerous times but under more ideal conditions and always thought it to be a boring trail with no scenery and the Falls being under-whelming. Thank you to all the rains lately, I saw this area today in a whole new light.   Ribbon Creek was fast and furious and overflowing in places.
All the rains gave this place that luscious green color.  I felt like I was hiking through a rain forest on a carpet of spongy moss. The air was fresh and clean and fragrant.  We were surrounded by low lying clouds that allowed a few mountain tops to peak through for a second or two.
Ribbon Falls looked like more than just ribbons of water flowing down.  It was fast and furious just like the Creek.  Like always, I scooted down to the lower view point but not like always, I held onto the rocks because the force of the spray alone was strong enough to move me in directions I didn't want to go.  
The smaller falls to the side which is normally just a trickle was more like ribbons of flowing water.  It doesn't look like many folks take this steep uphill detour, the path is overgrown and not obvious in parts.  It was well worth taking the extra few minutes to experience this spot.
I didn't even attempt to battle my nemeses today!  As soon as I saw this very very steep snowy slippery slope, I knew this was my turn-a-around point for the day.  I was content to sit it out as others crossed to glory, climbing the chain section that would lead them to Ribbon Lake.  I watched in awe as they worked their way across the snow, up the chains and out of sight.  Upon their return, their faces so easily gave away the joy of such an accomplishment!  
Well, this wasn't my highest spot physically but I will take it as today's summit shot.  Rewards appear in many forms!  I felt rewarded that now the sun was coming out, I could ditch the rain gear then do my pose in front of Ribbon Falls.  I will mention too this turned out being roughly a 21km hike for me.  
Rain Rain went away and we got to play!  Feeling played out, we still had the nine kilometers back to the trail head, but reliving our day so far and comparing stories passed the time.  Before this adventure was even over, I was already thinking what's next!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Right Before My Eyes!

I really had a hard time coming up with a title for this post and ended up going with "Right Before My Eyes" because she was!  I spent lots of time today wondering why things happen in life, how things happen and why things don't happen!  I thought about how it's a small world in this big city!  I thought too how you never know who you are going to run into when you are out and about!  Obviously, I had a hard time accomplishing anything at work today!  My mind was everywhere else!

Now I will get to where I am going with all this!  I saw an obituary in the paper and the girl looked familiar.  Her name was Colleen.  From what was shared with us of her life, I thought well I could have passed her on the running trails or maybe saw her on my work commute or even noticed her around "X" campus.  Her smile was so bright and so big, you couldn't miss it!

Then this morning I noticed my hiking friend posted a message of condolences and photos of Colleen.  She looked so familiar and her name rang a big loud bell.  I tried to let it go as I needed to get out the door to work.  As I opened my front door, I was overwhelmed when all the puzzle pieces came together in a flash.  I ran to my basement and tore through my university photo albums.  This is what I was looking for and found!  It's Colleen, me and Kim.
How could I ever have forgotten that Colleen was a friend during my last year at "X".  Years have passed, everyone moved on and went their separate ways and people were forgotten.  A few years back I went in search of those that were forgotten and was fortunate enough to find a few, Kim being one of them who I found lives and works in Georgia, where the friendships have been rekindled but I never did track down Colleen.  Little did I know she was right here in the same city as me, running the same paths as me, and was even hiking with some of my friends which blows my mind when I think of it.  It's such a small world in this big city!

What I have to share with you next even blows my mind more!  As of this morning I realize Colleen hiked with some of the same circle of folks as me but we have never crossed hiking paths, or so I thought.   I checked out what mountains she conquered and I could not believe it when I saw where she was on October 4th, 2010.  This is a photo of her on the Big Beehive near Lake Louise.
On October 4th, 2010 I did a solo hike to Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive.  A group of eight came along behind me, two of whom I knew and hiked with before so chatted with them for awhile.  Then an introduction was made and I was told this was Colleen and it's her first event with the club.  I welcomed her to the club and we shared a few pleasant words then went our separate ways.  Only this morning did all these puzzle pieces fall into place and then I realized she was there "right before my eyes" and I didn't even know it!  In that Lake Agnes Big Beehive blog post, I talked about the day being a gift and the reason was for having such gorgeous weather but now that word "gift" takes on a whole new meaning!

I'm still scratching my head wondering why things happen in life, how things happen and why things don't happen!  While I may not be able to figure any of this out, there is one thing I do know for sure and that is even though Colleen is at peace her big bright smile will continue to shine!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pushing Boundaries....

....paid off big time!

I pushed a boundary a little further away this weekend and opened a door to new possibilities a little bit wider!  I went solo car camping at Boulton Creek Campground this weekend.  Why solo you asked?  Sometimes you do what you just got to do in life!  I couldn't have asked for a better experience and I sure hope this time wasn't beginners luck!

Check in wasn't until mid afternoon but I left the city early to mid morning Saturday so I could drop by some scenic places along the way.  Here it's June already and the Upper  Kananaskis Lake is still frozen.  I'm glad it is, because it was a gorgeous sight.  My welcome was the thunderous roar of an avalanche up behind Rawson Lake.  These thunders carried on the whole time I was there.  This view is from the Upper Lake Parking Lot.
This view of Upper Kananaskis Lake is from the North Interlake Parking Lot.  Having left Calary in cold and rain, it was sunny and warm in Peter Lougheed Park.   I was able to walk out quite far due to the water level in the Lake being very low.
As early afternoon approached, my heart beat faster and faster before it skipped a beat or two.  Time to check in!  At this moment I mouthed the words "what the hell have I done"!  For a split second, I just wanted to go home.  I took a deep breath, calmed myself then drove to the Trading Post to announce my arrival.   I found my reserved spot, then set up my site!  I reserved the smallest site, yet my tent still looks lost.  I had my privacy on the red lounge chair beside the table, that's where I enjoyed an Alexander Keith's.  
Even though the sites were full around me and people were busy being and doing, I still experienced that peaceful feeling.  I was a million miles away from any cares or worries.  Once the beer bottle was empty, I prepared my evening meal.  That Trangia Stove is wonderful!  In no time at all, my feast was ready!
I strolled around the campground like others were doing.  It was such a nice evening, I tried to make the most of it and the whole experience.  Those in the know, believe camping is not camping without a campfire.  Making one is not my forte and it needs some work.  I couldn't get it to roar but I did get it to grumble for a little while.  I didn't bring enough wood so ended up burning the cardboard box I brought the wood in to make it last a little bit longer.
Once the fire was out, which was too early, I packed everything up and went to bed.  I remember checking my watch, it was 9:48pm, the next thing I new I heard the boisterous birds.  I checked my watch, it was 4:30am.  I had 30 minutes to luxuriate before hopping from tent to car and go see the sunrise which was a 7 minute drive away.  I didn't see it rise but I got to see how beautiful the very early morning can be here.
It was fresh this morning and cold!  It was crisp and clear!  I loved it!  Once again, kudos to my Trangia Stove.  What is morning time without a cup of coffee!  Once coffee time was over, I cooked a breakfast made up of an english muffin, egg, back-bacon and sharp cheddar cheese.  I napped in my red lounge chair as the sun rose peaking between the trees onto my face.  
By mid morning, I began packing up and went on with the day feeling very proud of myself that I didn't pack it in early and sleep in my car or head home without testing the waters of solo camping.   As I made that turn onto Highway 40 a reflection in the little pond caught my eye.   I love reflections and this was almost like a gift!  Like a graduation gift!  Yes I graduated this weekend!
I'm thankful for how this weekend turned out.   I don't ever remember pushing boundaries and being disappointed with the outcome.   Doors open and you are presented with a whole new part of the world!  I'm already thinking of when my next camping trip will be and where I should go!  GOT GEAR!  WILL CAMP!