Sunday, July 31, 2011

July's Ground Cover

I just realized after looking at what ground I covered in July, that all the hikes expect Mt. Lipsett on July 1st were in the National Parks.  While out covering ground this month, I saw lots of ground covered in wild flowers and some mountains covered in old snow while others were covered in new snow.  For the new snow that has fallen, I don't know whether to say "it's still snowing or it's snowing already!"  Considering camping is taking up some of my time, I'm pleased with my hiking tallies but not what I have to show for running or biking.  The total numbers are cumulative for the year.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Waking Wiser

This three day camping trip was an experiment, a quiet get-a-way, and an opportunity to grow and to learn by choice, even yet, also to become wiser for a reason which I have no control over.   My agenda was a very simple, sedimentary, slack one!  The only hard work I had was setting up my home away from home and the more I do this the easier it gets.  

Once I was moved in,  I quickly made myself at home!  
A "Tartan" and "Spooky Campfire Stories" by daylight set the tone for my get-a-way.  
I brought along lots of reading material to pass my time between meals and naps.   I like this add in the Backpacker magazine!  It says "navigate the unforgettable!"  Well, I did!  I saw the sun rise at Mesa Arch, I rappelled and canyoneered and I hiked to the Fisher Towers all during my trip to Moab in May of this year.  I learned lots about backpacking meals from this magazine that I will put to use.   
I have been curious ever since June of 2009, if the Letterbox is still there and how many more folks found it.  I went for a drive in hopes of remembering where it was and I did find it, only to learn just two others found it since we did.  
I didn't have to go far to see a variety of wild flowers in full bloom!  With in a ten minute walk around my Loop, there were plenty to see.  I did the Loop quickly between showers and was able to capture some of the flowers still with rain drops on them.  
While my fire didn't crackle much, it was enough of a campfire to do what campfires are suppose to do!  I was envious of my neighbours crackles'.   I am learning that it takes patience to get one roaring!
I tried new recipes on my Trangia which I learned will work great for my next trip.   While most of the get-a-way was quiet, I did meet my neighbor who is from Arkansaw and just finished a five day backpacking trip and was resting a couple of days before heading to do a seven day trip.  I could learn lots from him, he has been doing long backpacking trips for 40 years.

I came away wiser from this trip too!  Don't they say "the older the wiser"?
Thank you for the wishes!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Over the Moon!

Ever since reaching the  summit of Mt. Saint Piran last October, I knew I wanted to return but wanted the second time to occur on a gorgeous summer day!  Today was to be that day!    This day was also my last chance to share time with Ms D No Stopping Me who is moving away and for this reason, I secretly hoped for a day where both of us could feel "on top of the world!"

The hike/scramble starts at Lake Louise.  This view always takes my breath away, even after seeing it for probably the hundredth time or so, I've lost count.  We headed up the trail to Mirror Lake, then on to Lake Agnes, then on to the Little Beehive, then began our ascent up the Mt. Saint Piran trail.
Once through the first portion of trees and bushes, the balance of the trail is wide open, with long switchback after switchback making it an easy ascent.  As we reached the end of each switchback, I wondered what would be around the corner!  The higher we got, the more of Lake Louise we could see down below.  
At one point when the sky was clear blue and I could see the summit and the moon, I turned around and said to my friend "this is going to be one of those days, today is going to be over the moon" to which I got a very quick and affirmative reply.
After the switchbacks and just before the rocky section to the summit, we had a view to the northwest where we spotted the Waputik Icefield and also Hector Lake.   I love being able to see forever!
In a surprisingly short period of time, we covered over 900 meters of elevation and we were on the summit of Mt. Saint Piran at an elevation level of 2650 meters (8692 feet).  When I saw this view of Mount Temple, Mount Victoria, Mt. Whyte and Mt. Niblock all at the same time, this was an "over the moon" moment! 
For our dining spot, we choose to sit out in the open and deal with the cold air and breeze instead of taking cover in the shelter.  Capturing our summit experience was next on the agenda.  I lined up to be directly in front of Mt. Lefroy, Abbot Pass and Mt. Victoria. 
The close up view of Mt. Victoria shows the recent new snow cover!
Not only are we looking like we are "on top of the world" but we are feeling like we are "over the moon"!  Ms D No Stopping Me lines her arm directly with the slope of Mt. Temple.
Before starting our trek back, we explored down the slope in front of us a short distance.  I read that if you did you would have a view of Lake Agnes.  I was able to capture Lake Louise, the gazebo on the edge of the Big Beehive, Lake Agnes, the switchbacks up the side to the Big Beehive, Mt. Fairview with Mt. Temple towering behind it.
The experience to this point far exceeded my hopes and expectations!  How much more "over the moon" could today get!  On our decent, I recognized a face coming towards me but not sure where from but have learned there is no harm in acknowledging and questioning!  I acknowledged, we questioned, we exchanged names.  I follow Kathy and Craig's blog and so far own three of their books Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, Where Locals Hike in The Canadian Rockies and WOW Utah Canyon Country.   Check out the Copelands website!  I was proud to be able to pull out my well used photocopied trail description to show them for Trip 26 Mt. Saint Piran from "Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies". They took some time and chatted with us about different hiking related topics and they asked for our opinion on something new they would like to try with their books.  I asked for a photo together and was told I could do what I like with the photo, so I would like to share this with those who visit me here.
Thank you for making this day extraordinary!
I always post the recorded details from my 60 CSX at the end of every hike, but being so far "over the moon" today, I accidently hit delete instead of save so have no numbers to share but I  do know roughly we covered 1000 meters of total elevation and about 15 km in distance and we were out in our playground for around 8 hours.

Thank you Ms D No Stopping Me for sharing today with me! 
I wish you much success, happiness and adventuring in your new playground!  
Only the sky is your limit!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Glacial July Day

Days spent playing in the mountains can't always be perfect but if you learn to not sweet the small stuff, can be thankful for having your health and the time to play, are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way and you are open to being social and silly then any day in the Rockies can be pretty darn good!

I wasn't expecting the weather to be so bad today!  I checked the forecast last night and it was quite decent,  I didn't this morning and it appears Mother Nature didn't get a good night sleep, got up on the wrong side of the bed and made us pay for it today.  But, being experienced enough to know to leave certain items in my pack at all times, Mother Nature couldn't fool me nor my friends.

We had an approximate time set to begin our hike but that got thrown by the way-side when the highway was backed up do to a mud-slide.  Inching along, sitting in the car, watching the rain pour down I thought this is going to be one of those days (but not in a good way).  Letting myself believe that for a second, I quickly gave myself an attitude adjustment and realized today will be whatever I make of it!  So, for the part I had control over, I made it a great day! 

We finally hit the trail which was lined with a variety of colorful wildflowers!
We went from a fragile, colorful, delicate garden path to a rough and rugged, black and brown rocky trail!
As the sun poked out, I took the opportunity to have my summit shot taken! Even though this is not the high point, it was a high point seeing blue sky.  You can see Stanley Glacier behind me.
Then we carried on to the upper plateau where we had a view of Stanley Glacier!  We watched as a group of people (who began the hike as we were gearing up) work their way up the edge of the glacier and I believe these were the same folks who walked and stood directly under the cornice at Mt. Indefatigable.  We took shelter here for a short while but the rain was so heavy we decided to move on.
We descended on the opposite side from where we ascended so we could take shelter in "Thriller" which is a climbing cave.
Our hike ended with sunshine at the trial head, a beer and bison burger at The Drake and a feeling of accomplishment for making the most of a day that got off on the wrong foot!  Your days in the mountains can be whatever you make of them!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Riots and Ramparts

My intuition told me today was going to be one of those "on top of the world" days and I have learned to trust that sense and today proved why I should continue to trust it!    Some phrases I would use to describe this adventure would be "larger than life", "epic" (length wise and scenery wise), "a multitude of WOWs".  I didn't know which direction to look, at times I thought to myself where on earth am I and today was so fulfilling and rewarding it was one of the very, very few times I was content with leaving my playground in the mountains and going back home to the big city at the end of the hike.  

Signs and trails lead the way to our destinations of Simpson Pass, Eohippus Lake, The Monarch Ramparts, Healy Pass and Healy Creek Trail and when all is said and done, we should have covered approximately 26 km.  This 26 km does not include the 5.7 km bus ride from Sunshine Bourgeau Parking Lot up to Sunshine Village where our hike began.   
Thoughts were that today would be grand with wild flowers but the grand vistas far out weighted the wild flower show.  I was still able to capture some color though.  
Once out of the trees and into the wild and wide open spaces, we could see another of our destinations off in the distance.  The long ridge that spans from end to end is The Monarch Ramparts and measures roughly three kilometers long.  I was looking forward to being on The Ramparts but we needed a break and time to relax first so found the perfect spot.
That perfect spot was amongst a riot of glacier lilies that carpeted the meadow beside Eohippus Lake which is at the base of The Monarch.  You never know who you will run into in these spaces! I saw a group of trail runners heading our way.  With affirmative answers to just two questions for them "Are you from Banff?" and "Are you Banff Trail Trash?",  I got to meet Leslie whose blog I follow.  We chatted a bit then they were on their way.
We finally made our way up on top of The Monarch Ramparts and had this view behind us of where we just were for lunch.  It's hard to believe it is the middle of July and a portion of the lake is still frozen.  I was glad it was, because it made for dramatic photos.
Further along The Ramparts, I found a great spot for my summit shot.  We're not really on a mountain summit but by now I was feeling like I was "on top of the world" so that made a summit shot worthy!
Every where I looked there were lakes.  Thinking back, I wish I kept track of how many.  
I do know I would have needed all 10 fingers to keep track.
Once off The Ramparts, we landed on Healy Pass.  At this point we were almost 20 kms into our hike and it was close enough to dinner time, so we made it our dinner time.
Once again we found a meadow that was a riot of glacier lilies and settled down for awhile!
The last leg for today was about a 7 km hike down Healy Pass Trail which followed beside Healy Creek.  This portion went by quickly and quietly.  I kept checking my 60CSX the closer we got to the end.  The display was approaching 26 km but by the time I arrived back at the car, it didn't quite reach the 26 km so I did two laps of a few cars to bring it up to 26 km exactly!  

Today was one of those days that I know I will talk about for a long time to come and will always remember.  I believe this is the longest distance I have ever hiked.  My only issue after 26 kms was that nearing the end, the bottoms of my feet felt tender but that went away as soon as I got the boots off and the sandals on.

Being in the midst of Riots and Ramparts was a great way to spend a Saturday! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roughing It Reaps Rewards

I felt like I was on the edge of glory when I was driving to Waterton for my camping weekend by a lake.  I was so excited for the experience!   I had a good night sleep, woke early, was raring to go so just packed the car and hit the road by 6:30am.  I follow a fellow's stories and photos and he had been there the previous weekend and said you can have the place to yourself if you get there early.  

My first stop was Bear's Hump! Here I am sitting on it and owning it!  I cased out the townsite campground far below me looking to see where my reserved site might be.  Check in time wasn't until 2:00pm so I had loads of hours to fill.
I drove up the Akamina Parkway to Cameron Lake and couldn't own the wharf until the Manitoba Chapter of Hell's Angels finished doing their thing on it.  Then it was mine turn to do my thing! I did it, then hiked along the Lake a short bit until I found a nice spot to relax, enjoy the view and have an early lunch.
I had another lake to visit which I had never been to before.  Linnet Lake had a short hike around it which gives a great view of the entrance side of The Prince of Wales Hotel.  I could have just hiked over the hill to the Hotel but I drove there instead.
Every time I have been up on that hill at the Prince of Wales Hotel, it has been windy and today was no exception.  The wind even made my pig tales curl up.  This was my last stop before parking my car for the balance of the trip.
It was shortly before 2:00 so I found my way to the townsite campground, checked in and then set up my site.  The view out my front flap was of Crandell Mountain.  I had a few trees to one side which helped block the wind, thank goodness.   I strolled around the grounds to locate all the facilities then went walking for a couple of hours along the lake trail and campground trail.  I was loving where I was and what I was seeing!  I was now in the glory that I felt I was on the edge of on the drive from Calgary.
After the long walk, I lounged on my red chair and savoured a Grizzly Paw RED before making dinner.  During dinner Cate the Park Warden came by and invited me to her show that night.  I needed to pass some time before sunset so popped in for the 45 minute presentation.
My main reason for camping in Waterton was to be by a lake for sunset and sunrise.  The sun began to set and the scenery looked amazing.  I was so happy that my weekend was turning out to be what I had hoped for. 
I watched as Vimy Peak changed colors right before my eyes.  
I liked how the color of the Peak reflected in the Lake.
Part of Cate's talk was about the magic of the night sky and how dark it gets in Waterton which makes for great star gazing and suggested we take some time to view this for ourselves.  I went to bed thinking if I wake up then I will gaze out and sure enough I woke, looked out my front flap and saw one of the most beautiful night skies I have ever seen.  I wished I had a camera that could capture it but I don't.  I enjoyed the view for a little while then went back to sleep in anticipation of a wonderful sunrise.  How wonderful is this...
...and this!  
I enjoyed the sunrise, then enjoyed my coffee, then enjoyed my breakfast then enjoyed another stroll along Waterton Lake while most others were still sleeping.
The February photo shows how Waterton's main street looks like a ghost town in the dead of winter.  What a difference five months makes.   I think both photos are beautiful in their own way.  
I made my way back to the campground and packed up my gear in preparation for the trip back home.  :-(    I already knew before even leaving the grounds, that I wanted to come back one day.  Just outside of the Park Gate is another viewing area that I had never been to so paid a visit this time.  It's a wetland area full of wildflowers, butterflies, birds and bees.
The scenery for the drive home was beautiful!
I had the radio on listening to music for company as I was heading home, but it wasn't enough, I ended up talking to myself!
My camping gear isn't too far away from my front door right now.  
I'm already excited for my next trip in a couple of weeks.