Sunday, May 27, 2012

made Progress, so time to Progress

The count down is on to my next trip south and I needed to try out a few new things and brush up on some old things before I leave.  I had been looking forward to my first camping trip of the year for awhile, and the anticipation escalated after recently seeing campgrounds open, sites set up and imagining camp food cooking and fires crackling!

I had a window of opportunity this weekend!
I was nervous heading to a different part of Kananaskis to camp, but I need to get use to camping in unfamiliar areas.   The forecast was not perfect, but I need to get use to camping in not so ideal conditions.  I was nervous but I knew the bright side would over take and win. 
...and it did...
I checked in really, really, really early which wasn't an issue with the attendant.  Before doing anything, I chopped wood with my new axe and got my camp fire going.  A proper axe makes all the difference in the world.  It's a keeper!
It was nice to see only tiny remnants of snow in the trees.  I picked a more spacious site and I learned I like having more room.   I remembered how to get the Hubba Hubba up, and once that was done, I filled it with all the essentials for the night.
Then came time to enjoy and IPA then check out my loop to see if I recognized any other campers but no familiar faces.  I worked up an appetite and dinner time was approaching.  This is my new stove!  It's a keeper!
Dinner cooked quicker then I expected and I made a mental note to remember that!
That mental note went by the way side and my breakfast cooked quicker then expected too!
While sitting by the fire, I read some articles on how to photograph waterfalls.  They are my least favourite thing to photograph and to see just in general.  Now they could be my friend! On the way home, I stopped off to try out what I read and this is what I got.  The articles helped and I made progress but lots more practice is needed.  I know what I am suppose to do to get the different effects, now I need to learn about lighting.
Another stop I made was to visit a secret stash tucked under some rocks.  I was curious to see who had been there since my last visit, but no one had been.   I will need to paint another reminder for myself as I left this one as a reminder for the next person who comes along.
I made progress with my one nighter so now it's time to progress to two nights.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Practice on Prairie

A great opportunity arose when I rose this morning!  I laid in bed feeling sorry for myself and feeling unmotivated.  I procrastinated planting my feet on the floor and getting in motion but I did eventually.  Before even heading down stairs, I checked for emails and there was one waiting to be opened and once I read it, I experienced an attitude adjustment.  Here was a chance to share a hike with a friend, get exercise and fresh air, but best of all, an opportunity to play photographer again.  How could I resist an emphatic YES I will join you!

Agent-X and I met at the Prairie Mountain trail head and from the moment we met to begin the grunt until the moment we parted when back at the cars, there wasn't a dull moment nor a quiet moment.  We were all talk with the feature conversation being camera features.  We shared our knowledge of what we have learned so far with our cameras and we practiced what we preached!  It was great to be able to take the time to try many of the features.  

These are the photos I came away with today!




color accent


landscape for my summit shot

stitch assist panorama

vivid color
While this hike was lots of fun and play today, it was still hard work as you can see the distance and elevation posted on the BaseCamp Map.  It was a fairly quick trip up and down but there was nothing quick at all once we reached the top and the photographer within us came out.  Thank you for making my day!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hot & Bad

That is the typical combination you can expect when you head to Drumheller!  I was out the door early to beat the crowds heading here for the day.   I beat the hoards of hikers by starting the hike at 9:00am but I didn't beat the heat in these badlands.  I had to start in a short sleeve shirt and already wished I had shorts on.  This is the view down into Horsehsoe Canyon and where I was headed.
After looking down and then making the initial very steep descent,  it was all looking up from then on.   Looking up for scenery and the conditions along with the temperature and no one else being around, everything was looking up.
I had a track on my GPS to follow through this maze but soon after ditched the track and opted to find my own way.   It is crazy and wild down in the badlands.   It's a land like no other!
I eyed my photos close, close in and was very happy already with the quality I was getting.   
If I followed the track on my GPS, I would have by-passed this playground. 
I had secretly hoped for there to be a few clouds in the sky but they were very scarce today. I like how they add to a photo..... in this one.....
This area stood out for the few red rocks scattered amongst the grey sand.
I didn't play with many camera features today but did use the color accent.
Horseshoe Canyon is a great place to play photographer.  I spent close to three hours winding my way around and there was something different around every corner mixed in with the land formation.  From golden...... green.....
By the time I was ending my hike, swarms of folks were just beginning.  I climbed out of the Canyon, stopped at the top to catch my breath and look back to where I just came from and then enjoyed my lunch.   From there being only my car in the parking lot at the start, now the main lot was full and they were spilling out into the secondary lot and along the roadway.  I was glad for the early start and to now be leaving the Badlands to head home.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Alberta's "Outback"

If Alberta was to have an "outback" then that's where we were today!  I checked the dictionary to see what they say an "outback" is and some words and phrases that came up were:  bush country, a large wilderness area, sparsely populated, inaccessible.  In other words:  where we were today!  Yes, the rocks spell it out....we headed out to Sheep Valley with a plan of attack to reach Junction Lake.
The adventure all started with a creek crossing right at our trail head.  This is one portion of the creek!  It was cold, wide and fast flowing and of course it was a breeze for us to cross.   We then completed a bit of elevation soon after crossing which afforded us this view.  
Then came the second creek crossing. 
Not as wide, not as cold, not as fast flowing!
Easy! Breezy!
In many places, we put our route finding skills to work, checked the GPS, verified with the map, bushwhacked, slipped and slided plus used crawl-like maneuvers.  Time was passing fast, the miles were not nor was the elevation gain.  Verification after verification,  we then carried on and on.  Until, we landed a clear visual in front of us, we could see the general area of Junction Lake and we could see the cornice and the steep snowy avalanche slopes between us and the Lake.  We made the call to play it safe and play it smart and save it for another day.  
We worked our way across this steep dry slope with wide open views 
to have a long break in the sunshine ....
....and admire the beauty right before our eyes!
All the while we were here, I kept thinking "where in the heck are we?"  No mountains looked familiar!   I thought "How on earth did we even manage to end up where we did?  Was this craziness?  Who in their right mind would intentionally come here?  We are so far out, we are so far back, hey we are in the outback!"  Then I came back to reality with a self confirmation that I truly love this craziness and I am not insane!

I checked out my scratches and bruises which looked ugly just like this tree.
We paid a little more attention to all the waterfalls on the return trip.  
We again completed the two water crossings and arrived from the outback, back in to our vehicles.  I changed, cleaned up and then we headed down the road to Sheep River Falls where it was time to...
I don't quite understand it, but getting out there being rough, tough and rugged and getting dirty and wet, does my heart and soul the world of good!   I am fortunate to have the time and my health to go to places so far out and so far back.  I'm not so sure I will ever make it to Junction Lake but I do know for sure that I can hardly wait to head to an Alberta Outback again!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Alignment at a Junction

It was time to go back and make things right this time on Junction Hill.   It was the plan all along to and this rock sculpture sitting on my fern table was my reminder.  Today was D-Day (do-day)!  I secretly hoped my stars would align today.  The forecast was for great, there were reports of having no snow to contend with and a few old and new friends were on board to join me.
My preference is to have a stretch of flat to start out with to give all the muscles, joints, bones and heart an opportunity to get in sync but one has to go elsewhere for that.  The ascent here starts immediately and is not gradual, it goes up and up and up.  At least it is on grassy slopes with crocuses here and there. 
Once on the ridge, we could see where we started down below in the bottom left corner. The ridge was snow free and there was a semi-obvious trail to follow along the edge, through trees and around rocks.   
The trail followed right beside two gigantic rocks that formed a window with a view.
Then the first cairn came into very clear view and at this point I could taste summit.  
At this point also was where we saw the most snow but it was not in our way.
After some very, very, easy scrambling then some maneuvering around some big rocks and angled rocky rough sections, we reached the true summit.  It had been about two hours and forty-five minutes since we began our hike so definitely time to sit, relax, refuel, enjoy the views, take photos and celebrate.  Yes, Victory!  Today's summit scene sure beats the scene...
...that we had on March 17, 2012...
We owned the summit for a perfect amount of time and then let the folks coming our way take over.  We aimed for the ridge that would take us on a loop and keep us high.  It was very steep and slow going at times especially over the big boulder field.   I kept looking back to see where we were.
When I looked back this time, it was nice to see some yellow in with the rock and red.
One last look up and back....
....before starting to look down and forward...
This monument marks the start of a very steep grassy slow going descent.
...pretty to our right...
...pretty to our left...
...and very sweet to be back on solid ground heading home...
I'm happy with how today turned out in every way.  In my opinion, I would say my stars aligned today.  I even arrived home tick-free.  There was lots to celebrate today and when there are opportunities to do so, it makes me feel like I am "on top of the world!"