Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do Over Day!

For a couple of years now, I have wondered what was underneath all that snow at Twin Lakes in Banff National Park.  It was time to squash that wondering and lay it to rest.  I expected there to be snow here and there and possibly some deep pockets of the stuff after a call with Parks Canada but was still game to go to see what I could see.   Pockets of snow did not pan out but there was some here and there that was not even ankle deep but more like half way up the sole of your boot deep. 

Today's view as we exited the forest into the meadow.  
March 2011 view of the meadow.
What a day weather-wise!  
It was warm, sunny, no wind!  
The creek was only ice covered in a very few small tiny sections on our way to Lower Twin Lake.
We spent quite a bit of time ascending through the forest.  We crossed six bridges there which I had no idea existed, well except one.  On that day in March 2011 there was so much snow the bridges were totally covered.  This was the seventh bridge we crossed today.  We followed the right side of the creek and crossed over to head towards Lower Twin Lake.
I expected Lower Twin Lake to be at least frozen over and I had hoped it not to be snow covered.  What a surprise to arrive finding no ice.  
We found a sunny open spot and enjoyed an extended lunch break.  
After lunch we played on the rocks in the water where the creek leads into the Lower Twin Lake.
This is my reflecting destination shot of the day.
March 2011 destination shot.
I am standing on the Lower Twin Lake.

A late October beautiful autumn day!
After our dining and play time, we ascended to Upper Twin Lake.  While they are twins, they did not appear so today.  The Upper Twin which is at the campground, was frozen over.  The elevation was just enough more for it to freeze.  We checked out both sides of the Lake.  This is the view from the campground side.
looking over at the campground side

We took a small short cut down from Upper Twin Lake then crossed over the creek to begin our return trip.  We followed the open creek for awhile instead of on the trail we came in on.  The sound was soothing and such pretty scenes.  Where the creek began to widen, we crossed back over and hit the trail that would take us back into the forest.
It was time to leave the beauty behind and head home!
When we arrived back to the forest, we made quick time descending the kilometers back to the trail head.  Castle Mountain was a welcoming sight.  The lighting at late afternoon was ideal.  We lingered a little while enjoying treats that others brought along.  Then it was time to pack up and hit the highway.
So now you know too what was under all that snow.  Today's do over paid off and it was a more spendid day than I had anticipated.  I made sure to thoroughly embrace today!  Tomorrow will be another season with a winter storm approaching our city.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sticking With What's Trending

While life's happenings come with unwelcome restrictions, they will not stop me from being "out and about".  My "out and about" may not be far and long but it will still be! After all, it is my saving grace! Today's "out and about" was Prairie Mountain.  The plan in place was to ascend the normal route and descend the west ridge to make a large loop.  Mountain backsides are trending lately, last Monday it was the backside of Pigeon and last Saturday it was the backside of Sulphur.  Today it was the backside of Prairie and I had my lady friends join me. 

The steep trail through the trees was in fine condition for this time of year and this hour of the morning. Leaving later would have meant more mud.  Our first teaser views through the trees were looking awesome.  It was when we reached the wide open space that I knew we were in for a special day. WOW!
The wide open space is notorious for having a bitterly cold strong wind.
Today we had a mildly breezy chilly wind.  
We sauntered towards the summit cairn and Canadian flag.  
It was nice to have bare ground to hike along.  
I have been to this summit many, many times and only now I realize I prefer to have my summit shot with a different backdrop than Moose Mountain.   There's Nihahi Ridge to my right.  Me and my lady friends owned the summit for a period of time so we took advantage of that with some play time.  
Moose Mountain
waving flag
Conditions were favourable so we opted to dine at the summit in the wide open space.  There were dry patches scattered throughout and we found one that was the perfect size and in the perfect place for us.  The summit cairn was at our back and I could not help myself from looking back to watch the clouds dance.
After lunch, we aimed for the large cairn and then began our descent down the west ridge.  In the trees, the snow was ankle deep and made for a gentle soft descent, for the first while.  The trail markings were in abundance, there was much more ribbon then when I took this route last June.  
We found our way to the smaller meadow where there was just enough of that sticky snowman snow.  We produced a family.  From here on in to where we would join Prairie Creek Trail, was muddy in spots, no snow, and still lots of ribbon to show us the way.
At the intersection, we went down slope a bit to a grassy patch and had our second break of the day.  It was peaceful and relaxing, with only the sound of the creek flowing by.  I watched the clouds dance again.  Me and my lady friends enjoyed this time and place.
We followed the Prairie Creek Trail back to the trail head.  The damage along here from the June flood was astounding!  My heart sank when I saw it but quickly then thought this will be beautiful again one day.  What a day I shared with my lady friends!  Not only is being "out and about" my saving grace but you are too and thank you for being who you are and sharing the day with me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts & Reflection

After yesterday's Pigeon Mountain hike, I parted ways with my friends as they headed east and I drove west to Banff to spend the night.  It was a treat to myself, a chance to escape, to reflect on another reason Thanksgiving time is close to my heart and to be in the mountains for a sunrise.  

I arrived at the spot I had in mind to watch the sun rise.  One person was already there. We exchanged pleasantries.  I eyed his equipment and then looked at mine.  I will never be where he is.  We chatted again and after a few little thoughts he shared, I had to know who he was. Blatantly, I asked him who he was.  He's Chris!

We got down to business and this is my work!  
I am proud of my photos.

It was a cold morning.  
It was fresh and crisp and beautiful.  
I thought of my Mom and her warmth. 
It's been seven years now but sometimes it feels like it was yesterday.  
Mom, you are always near forever dear!

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Thanksgiving Monday

I was happy to find friends who did not have to stay home to prepare a turkey and were free to put Pigeon as their priority for this Thanksgiving Monday.  It was nice that a few of these friends had never been up this mountain.  Pigeon Mountain has two summits which I hit last year but I wanted to add a twist this time and come down the backside off the lower summit to incorporate a loop and enjoy different scenery.  

The trail head is a mere one hour west of the city but the views parallel those that are two hours west.  The first long stretch in the trees is the place to get into the mood and the mode, to warm up and to get caught up with each other's past weeks activities.  Once that stretch was behind us and we reached the wildlife sign, we delayered, our focus changed and we began the steep climb.

Within only a few minutes we exited the trees, then just like magic, mountains appeared.  We could plainly and clearly pick out every mountain from Ha Ling Peak on the right, Mount Lougheed on the left and every one in between.
a frosting of snow in the dips
A bit further and our first destination was in sight.
It's the snow covered peak center right.
We headed first to the higher main summit.  It was chilly and windy here so we quickly took care of our business.  Mine of course was capturing my first summit shot of the day.  We retreated back down for shelter to dine all the while facing the sun and our next destination.
Looking to the far end of this main summit and Canmore down below.
Lac des Arcs
heading to our next destination, that big bump straight ahead
on my way there
our gear on the summit
We took a little time here to have some fun.  
I captured my second summit of the day so that meant another summit shot!
Now it was time to go into unchartered terrain for us. It was easy to find our way.  We did come prepared though with written directions, a map, gps and track.  That's just the way we roll.

Looking back to both summits.
This is the expansive meadow we meandered along once off the second summit. What a place to be today!  Lot's of ooooohhs and aaaaahhhs filled the air over this vast vista. We already declared if we ever hike Pigeon Mountain again, we will not return the way we came up but instead take this back way down.
new views
The Pigeon Mountain hike closes down each year from December 1 to June 15 to allow lambing to occur so time was getting short.  Today was the day to venture into this new area as the bare ground allowed us to eye the faint trail.  Once the snow falls the route will not be as obvious.  

I had much to give thanks for today!  It's being in the company of fun friends that make the day.  That fact and add to it views like we had and the fine weather conditions all packaged together made me feel like I was "on top of the world"!

I parted ways with my friends at the trail head.  They headed east to home and I ventured west to Banff wanting to prolong returning to reality a little longer.  I  checked into my room and settled in for the night!