Saturday, October 27, 2012

More Than Just a Ray!

I have claimed that "I am ready to embrace everything winter" even though we are still in the midst of autumn.  I wasn't sure what to expect for our trip into Rae Lake today but I did go prepared for full on winter yet with hopes of just a ray of winter.  With the surprisingly abundance of snow at the parking lot, we decided it was best to carry along our snowshoes for further in along our trek.  That's embracing winter!

We arrived at Elbow Lake to see it frozen and covered in snow.
Happy to have blue sky.
A ray of light and a small opening gave way to a reflection. 
We spent some time along the shore of Elbow Lake admiring the sights and scenes. 
The perfectly formed circles in this stump caught my eye. 
We made it to the far end of the Lake and crossed over from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park into a Wildland Provincial Park and this is where the rules change.  We are now in the dead center of hunting territory.  This calls for cheerful, colorful clothing as we begin the hike along the Big Elbow Trail.  
We could not help but linger here and take time to play photographer given there was no wind, the sky was blue, there were beautiful cloud formations plus the wind blown terrain was an added bonus.
We veered off the Big Elbow Trail and headed into Desolation Flat.  This turned out being my favourite section of the whole day.  Once again, we stopped to take photos and also added a snack break into the mix.  Comments were made that we will never make it to Rae Lake if we spend this much time stopping for photo opportunities.  We couldn't help it though!  Having "just a ray of winter" today has been ideal.
How could one not stop for a photo when presented with a view like this!
As we exited the Flat and made our way to higher ground, the view was delightful.  
I am loving embracing everything winter. 
Even though we are only experiencing "a ray of winter" today. 
After some ups and downs, a bunch of bushwhacking, a few sections of knee deep snow, we finally eye our destination.  Rae Lake! Yes, finally, there it is frozen and snow covered and looking so pretty surrounded by mountains that contain golden colors.  But, what happened to the blue sky?
I put my priorities in place!
First, my destination shot!
Second, my lunch!
With the blue sky gone, the wind picking up, very light flurries falling and the temperature dropping, that "just a ray of winter" was developing into "more than just a ray", we now had full on winter conditions.    I kept my head down and forged on, all the while trying hard to convince myself to embrace everything winter.  I never did embrace it enough to put my snowshoes on.
My friends were probably trying to think the same thing, along with other thoughts!  
The last five to six kilometers were a challenge and I already knew that come tomorrow, I will be paying for it.  I have often said I am lazy and I don't like hard work but when it comes down to it, I can handle it.  I have learned how to dig deep, get the job done then come out the other end happy and smiling.   Now I am ready to handle "more than just a ray" of winter and can hardly wait to get back out there again! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Free Time! = Busy Mind!

With loads of free time on my hands this weekend, I found myself thinking, exploring, wondering, planning, enjoying!  All this wandering was related, in one way or another, to my passion for mountain adventures and how I plan them, capture them and document them.  
I was looking back at my charts, comparing how much I have been "Out & About" just hiking this year compared to the last two. While there is no way I will surpass 2010's numbers, there is potential for beating last year's given I still have two months left to make that happen.  Then again, if winter conditions are now upon us, the kilometers will come via snowshoeing, skating or X-Skiing, and those digits are not included here.
As I found myself doing all this thinking and so on, I also realized getting into this time of year, as crazy as it may sound, is when I do lots of planning, exploring and enjoying mountain adventures by myself.  I may need to do something about that, beware, I might be calling on you!

I have been thinking about where I would like to adventure to in 2013.  Cuddled in my big blanket on my sofa, looking outside at the snow blow and fall,  I spent a few hours yesterday browsing maps and books about areas in the Yukon.
 I have no idea of the whens, whats, wheres or hows yet!  
It all begins with a dream, and oh boy, am I dreaming!   
I took time to admire my stones and to reflect on what they represent and how I enjoyed incorporating them into my thinking, exploring, wondering, planning, enjoying.  While I wonder every day, it has been awhile since I specifically experienced a "Wondering Wednesday".  
I am always trying to learn and I don't always acknowledge or share what I learned. I did share a few lessons learned with you in past, but it has been awhile since doing so.  My stone messages seem to be passing phases.  I do have another one in mind already that may come to fruition soon. I have said many times before...... sure to.....
Time now for some more thinking, exploring, wondering, planning, enjoying!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Rocky Mountain Autumn Day.......

......can be stark and dark, and yet,  beautiful!  

A mid-autumn day in the Rockies offers up partially frozen creeks and lakes.  The dusting of brilliant white snow gives definition to the mountain cruxes, crevasses and contours.  You can even uncover a small surprise or two or three.  We had the pleasure of enjoying all these treats on today's adveuture along the James Walker Creek and up into his Cirques.  
I have learned from experience to pack my pack for the unexpected.  
Today's expected was partial sunshine, a light breeze, +5C.  
We got the unexpected!
I was prepared!
That brilliant white snow creating definition!
Even though there was no plan to summit a mountain, it was still easy to get to a high point within the cirque and experience feeling high.  After a quick bite to eat for lunch, my choice was to get a little higher for a shot that I could call today's summit shot. 
We carried on further in and further up into the cirque. 
A wonderful lakelet!
Not having had enough wind, snow, sleet, cold and scenery, we went in search of more.  We rock-walked and boulder-hopped cross-country to Mr. Walker's second cirque.  We did not venture far into this one but I will one day.  
We worked our way towards the open alpine meadow.
I looked back for one last look.
A tiny bit of blue sky and true autumn colors.
The out route from the cirques was so different than the in route.  
This side was meadowy and spongy.
There was more color.
We completed the little loop, met up with our trail, then made our way back down through the forest to arrive at the first lake. We lingered a bit, delayered, had snacks and took photos.  Then it was time to carry on with the last few kilometers back to the trail head.

I veered towards the lake for another look.  
The lighting had improved.
A reflection!
Today was a testiment that beauty can be found in our Rockies when it is dark and stark.  You just have to be open to it.  I realized that even with today's conditions it was still possible to "remember to breathe" and that was exactly what I did!

Friday, October 12, 2012

What I Am In For!

The snowfall this week has ignited the fire within me! 
Now I'm looking forward to a  new season where I can "remember to breathe"!
Don't let the snow or winter get  you down!  
There is so much to enjoy about it!
If you are looking for inspiration, I hope you can find it here!

skate at Lake Louise
backpack to an alpine hut
cross-country ski
go for a wild crazy carpet ride
enjoy the scenery
try a winter-time hike
snowshoe through winter-wonderlands
top off the day at an ice bar
I'm excited for what I am in for this winter!
I hope you are too!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thank You at Thanksgiving Time

I share in the sentiment of my new friend that we like to be in a place that we love at Thanksgiving time and be thankful we can be there and for everything around us.  I choose Mt. Saint Piran to be that place and you can see it here, it is the second mountain from the right.  We by-passed Lake Louise and Lake Agnes and headed straight to the trail that would bring us to the summit.
Along the way, the sights were amazing!  I secretly hoped for there to be a light dusting of snow to add to the flavour of the day.   An October morning, fully into autumn, crispness in the air, blue sky with scattered pure white clouds, that light dusting of brand new snow...thank you for that!  
Mount Victoria
We reached the summit and we owned it!  The sun was very warm and there was a slight, light breeze every now and then.  If you have been to the summit of Mt. Saint Piran, you know how cold and windy it can be even during the dog days of summer.  This was truly a beautiful place to be today.   A couple of times I caught my new friend in his private moments and his smile measured from ear to ear.  I couldn't help smiling wide too!
After lunch and summit photos, we strolled along the top heading downwards to where we could view Lake Agnes below and the Big Beehive across the way.  This added a little more distance and elevation but that is not included in the final tally shown on the elevation chart below.
The dark and rocky summit was brightened up with that new snow.  It is a fitting frame for the stretch of peaks across the way including Fairview Mountain, Mt. Temple, Haddo Peak, Mt. Aberdeen, The Mitre, Abbott Pass, Mt. Lefroy and Mount Victoria.
Looking back up at the summit of Mt. Saint Piran and the added elevation ahead of us after our stroll.
Once back at the summit, we took the time for snacks and more photos before reluctantly packing up our gear and hitting the trail down.  Shortly after leaving the summit, we veered off trail a bit for a greater vantage point of the view towards the Icefield Parkway.  Notice the train at the bottom of the photo winding its way towards Yoho National Park.
Still trying to postpone ending today, we stopped off at Lake Agnes to check out the sights.  The Lake was not frozen but there were ice formations in the area around the falls.  I keep looking at how nature sculpted this piece of ice thinking it looks like something or it has a story to tell!  I see beauty and yes there is something else about it but I cannot put my finger on it! 
The summit of Mt. Saint Piran remains one of my favourite places to be.  I was happy others were game to share today with me.  While I am always thankful to be able to experience days like today, I give an big extra thanks today!  THANK YOU!