Saturday, July 26, 2014


Devastation to beauty!  
a transformation from the 2003 forecast fire in Kootenay National Park

Driving south towards Radium on Highway 93, The Rockwall to your right teases and beacons those that have have never ventured in.  I did venture in there for the night in 2012 and yet, I still felt the pull to return.  Today was return time and it pleased me to know that out of the seven of us, only three of us had ever been.  The trail head is at the Floe Lake / Hawk Creek Parking Lot and the views start immediately and last until the second you land back at the parking lot.  A mere few minutes into the day is where you cross the first bridge to get on the other side of the Vermilion River.    
Hours spent hiking through a forest is not my favourite but this forest is different.  
It is wide open, with gorgeous scenes after pretty views after amazing vistas.
This is our trail leading to Floe Lake which sits at the base of The Rockwall.
I hoped our timing would be right for the fireweed explosion and my hopes came true.
a fire affords fireweed
The slopes were spectacular.
It was a day of ooooohs and aaaaaahs offered up due to the scenery, the work and the warmth.  With the open areas, there was opportunity to feel the heat from the sun, it felt as hot as the look of the hot pink fireweed.  The climb was slow and steady with lots of oooogling around.     
a deserved rest on the rock sofa
It took us about four hours to make it to Floe Lake so once there we were in no rush to leave.  We spent an hour & fifteen minutes taking in the beauty, snapping shots, dining and for me "feeling the moment" and "remembering to breathe"!  It was chilly here thank goodness, we enjoy the slight breeze as it kept the bugs away.  
my destination shot at Floe Lake with The Rockwall as the backdrop
splendid scenery
The warden was home today.  We first spied her sweeping off the deck.   
A little later she came out to speak with someone who stepped up onto her verandah.  
Well after two o'clock, we packed up and aimed for the trail back.  
We took a short descent first though to have one last glimpse. 
Now it was all down hill from here on in, elevation wise that is, the scenery never did go down hill. 
looking up 
at the tall tree
caused a dizzying feeling
We made great time descending.  It was a challenge at times checking out the scenery and hiking at the same time.  In places the trail was narrow, with slopes to our right where the ground was soft and liable to giving way.  The vegetation along the way was in abundance and not necessarily a good thing.  Yet, the views held true all day long!
The day started with heat, beautiful scenery, a few fluffy clouds, it ended the very same way and in between there was no swaying from these conditions.  I could not have asked for today to be different in any way.    Thank you for this, thank you for that, thank you for everything!
from devastation to beauty
with hopes this beauty is here for ever

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Bouquet Presentation

Today I landed back at the Sunshine Parking Lot, the same place I was two weeks prior.  Only this time instead of hopping on the bus to the top for the Sunshine Meadow show, we hit the trail to hike along side Healy Creek to the top for the Healy Pass Wildflower performance.  The first few kilometers in the tress is boring yet filled with aromatherapy & lushness.  Speaking of aroma, considering all the wildfires in the nearby vicinity, we were spared any smoky smell and there was no smoke to hamper our views only loads of clouds.  But, after all, we were not hiking here for the massive wide open views, we were here for the bouquet presentation. 

out of the forest then the show slowly started trail side  
then the awards of peak performance
Between periods of drizzle & rain, there were short opportunities to capture a vista or two.  This is my favourite section where you get to see it all, mountains, flowers, lakes, meadows.  A bit of blue would have been the topping on the cake but you can't always have your cake and eat it too.
variety is the spice of life
Here we were presented with The Monarch in the middle with The Monarch Rampart stretching long and leading up to it framed by a larch tree and a wildflower bouquet.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I would rate this as an award worthy performance.  Bravo to you Mother Nature!
We reached our destination, dined in the rain, checked out further along the trail, admired many lakes, then with a bit of blue in the sky, it was the ideal time for my destination shot.  Feeling so happy to be in  my happy place!
delicate yet hardy
What an abundance of pink mountain heather!
After the final bouquet was presented, the show was over and it was time to hit the trail back and head home.  I already pondered coming back again either real soon for more wild flowers on hopefully a sunny blue sky day or into September during the golden season show.  
Healy Pass was such a busy place today.  While I have been in the area a few times, it was only my second time during wildflower season.   My first wildflower show attendance way back on  July 16, 2011 I met Leslie whose blog I follow.  What are the odds!  For my second viewing, who do I see for the second time, Leslie.  We exchanged a hug and pleasantries.  The added bonus to these play days is running into familiar folks and also sharing the adventure with friends. Today was filled with bonus after bonus after bonus!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Big Calling

Given such a superb weather forecast paired along with feeling fabulous + with energy to spend, the calling for today was to go big.  Mount Saint Piran has, but not necessarily planned, become an annual hiking objective.  Today was this year's day to reach that peak second from the right.  Just like on Canada Day, my trail head was Lake Louise. 
I had a quick visit at Mirror Lake...
...looking way up at the Big Beehive...
...knowing soon I would be looking way down on it...
I by-passed Lake Agnes then took the detour just before reaching the Little Beehive.  After the short trek through the trees, I made it to the wide open slope where the views now would be never-ending.  The slope is made easy to ascend thank you to the numerous long switchbacks.
Here you have Lake Louise, little Mirror Lake, Mount Fairview across the way and the gazebo on top of the Big Beehive which is that little white speck on the end of the green mound to the right.
With the switchbacks behind me, here is where you lastly push for a few minutes  through the rocks.
view far below to the train on the tracks
and the mountains to the northwest
(click on the photo for a bigger view)
multitude of colourful formations
I reached the summit and passed it by for now, to make my way lower down the far side to where there was more grass than rock, a few alpine flowers and where I felt in the midst of many big mountains.  This was the ideal spot for my summit shot with Mount Niblock as the backdrop.
It was also the ideal spot to dine.
My view from the prime front row seat.
After resting and refueling, I had a short climb back up to the true summit.
There was no need to take shelter today with this superb forecast.  
This was the only snow patch to be found. 
I built an expression of how I was feeling.
Before hitting the switchbacks for the descent, I veered off to this viewpoint.   
I started my day early enough that I was first to the summit and I owned it for my whole visit. Oh how I like that!  I also like when I meet folks on the trrails who are followers of my blog.  Today I met Robin.  Thank you for stopping to chat, it's opportunities like this that re-enforce the pleasure of sharing my experiences of being "out & about".  I hope you and your Australian relatives had an enjoyable summit visit.

In a way today was a test and I came away with a boost to my confidence level.  The elevation gain was no problem, there was no issue with the easy hand placements for balance to get through the scrambly & scrabbly sections near the summit.  While my pace was slow ascending, that was all that was slow.  My expectations were to be at this point well into August, but I am so happy to be there right now.  I attribute this to staying happy, upbeat & positive, to keeping on top of my cardio and staying on the move and on the go.   I have three more sleeps then this cast comes off.  I look forward to a cast-free summit celebration! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Meadow High

Getting high into a mountain meadow all started with purchasing a ticket for the shuttle bus that leaves from the Sunshine Ski Hill Parking Lot in Banff National Park.  The next step was to put a shout out for company and I was happy when Sky Blue jumped on board.  We hopped on the 9:00am bus to the top, geared up then hit the trail and the pretty started immediately.  
After the initial gentle climb, Rock Isle Lake comes into view and awakens your senses.  While with wide open eyes, I am left a little speechless.  I knew this was the day to be here.  I am already seeing my favourite things:  blue sky, white puffy clouds, a lake with reflections, mountains and not very many folks.
I did not add my bear spray to my pack today, that will come next Saturday for sure.  Today's addition was a half full three litre camelback, more food and another extra layer.  I am almost back to a full pack.  Sky Blue lead the way through the quiet, closed in area with her spray and air horn (sticking out from her right side). My task was if need be, press the yellow button on the top of the horn while she drew her bear spray. 
arriving at Grizzly Lake
view of Larix Lake
while we dined
with an osprey matinee performance
After visiting the three alpine Lakes and making great time, we aimed for Standish Viewpoint.  Rock Isle Lake and Larix Lake were now far below us.  We checked the map and time to verify we were fine with carrying on making the big complete loop.
looking back and seeing Mount Assiniboine framed by Quartz Ridge
The views along the Meadow Park Trail were outstanding.  
Being early season, there were loads of lakelets which made the area a photographers dream.  
We owned the trail and all the while for our safety, kept an eye out for wildlife.
This was all we gladly saw.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the three lakes area lower down, the section along this trail was by far my favourite scenery section of the day.  Like I said early on, this was the day to be here.  As the days go on, these lakelets will dry up.  
We carried on all the way to the Monarch Viewpoint.  This was about as much snow as we had to contend with today, ankle deep for a few feet.  In a few days it will be gone.  Feeling comfortable performing a leap of love when I can land on soft snow, I went for it.  Our day was coming to an end and I was so happy to be sharing the day enjoying being on a meadow high.
time to hit the descending trail to take us back to the bus
This was my fourth time to Sunshine Meadows and now I have been here in all four seasons.  I have snowshoed here in a winter wonderland, visited during the peak of wild flower season, spent a day here in autumn larch season and now early season seeing all the waterfalls and lakelets.  It's a timeless part of the National Park.  Thank you Sky Blue for being game, the day's take-away means much more when you can share it with friends.