Saturday, October 25, 2014

like a work of fiction

For one reason or another, as each day passed this week, I was impelled to find appreciation for even the simplest of things and that was rather easy to do.  I didn't want to let any day just slip by especially a magnificently forecasted Saturday. I joined in with a bunch of friends who were escaping the realities of big city life for the day.   At the trail head for Rummel Pass, I stole some time to admire the surrounding scenery and breathe in the mountain air while gearing up.  I was ready to hike into the midst of something surreal, something adventurous, something like a well depicted work of fiction.  It didn't take long to reach that place.  

It started when we arrived at Rummel Lake.  This being my fourth time here, it was my first time to experience the area under some blue sky, with out wind, seeing open water and having warm degrees.  This is my kind of reality!         
We took a little break at the lake before the short ascent to the wide open meadow.
Within a matter of mere minutes, the surrealism set in.
Is this the real life?  Is this just fantasy?
The higher we ascended, the more often I looked back.  
The landscape was wind-swept.  
There was just enough snow settled in areas to add to the drama of this work of fiction.  
This was an amazing place to be today.   The mountainous sidedrops lining the meadow made for such a desolate look and feel.  For split seconds I felt like I was being pulled into the middle of a well written vivid adventure.  All I wanted was to get deeper into it.... off we ventured, further up....
We reached the summit of Rummel Pass.  In the valley below, there was Lost Lake frozen over.  The summit was spacious with views down in front and behind us.  This was our lunch time view.  It was on the calm side for the first little while then, just like that, it wasn't.  
my summit shot 
We made a quick descent from the summit and the wind.  
I checked over my shoulder for a last look. 
You can see the summit cairn on the left.
We made our way down to calmer conditions and to where we slowed our pace to admire the place.  The perfect amount of snow cover mixed with the rockiness & shapeliness made for such a dramatic appearance.  All this only fueled thoughts of.... 
Is this the real life?  Is this just fantasy?
It was like watching a story play out as my friends worked their way along the trail.
What's a story, a fiction, a drama without an interlude.
We took a few minutes to relax and refuel.
We left the meadow and arrived back into the forest where our descent was back to Rummel Lake.  Time for another break, a longer one this time in the sunshine and warmth.  The consistency of the snow changed immensely once the sun hit it.  It was time to remove my microspikes and the snow stuck to them.  I was feeling high today not just from the mountain air and scenery but also from having a few inches of snow stuck to the bottom of my feet.
The lighting here was wonderful.  We lingered long, it seemed folks didn't want to leave.  Leaving would mean hiking out of fiction back into true reality.  But, all stories have an ending.  I was beginning to feel played out and ready to make our way down the last few kilometers to the trail head.
We wrote quite an original work of fiction today. 
What a fun group of authors I got to share this day with.  
Here's to you...
...a standing ovation and "BRAVO" !

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Volcanic Flow

Time passes, lives happen, each off in its own unique direction, yet memories and faces are never forgotten.  A friend made contact suggesting it would be nice to reunite and share a few hours together along a hiking trail.  Being at various stages of ability for one reason or another, we came together with a doable destination for all.  Our objective would be a variation in the Volcano Ridge area of Sheep River Provincial Park where we could just let our day flow.  

We arrived at our trail head early and already felt the warmth of the sunny autumn day.  The friendship warmth was flowing too.  The only not so warming thing was the mud we had to attack early on but it lasted maybe 10 minutes.   Then it was cleanly & clearly inward, onward and upward.  
While I heard parts of our playground westerly were wintery white, we enjoyed autumn hues.
As we carried along, we could see the south summit of Volcano Ridge.  
We aimed for that brown bump middle right.  
Our day on Volcano Ridge was flowing wonderfully.  We took a little time at the south summit to admire the views, savour snacks and share stories.  With so much to catch up on, there was never a dull or quiet moment.  The trail conditions were ideal, the wind wasn't though, it whipped wildly. 
view of Bluerock Mountain as we descended the south summit
Our main destination came into sight.  
The north summit of Volcano Ridge is that high point centre left.  
We veered off trail to descend the south summit.
 We made our way through a sparse forest aiming for the open slope.
the colorful open slope
After the first slight slope, we had a short stretch of meadow to meander through.  The scenery was wonderful.  Not only was I enjoying the scenery, but also how it felt like time hadn't passed, like our lives were not heading off in unique directions, it felt like as we caught up, we were right back to those days when Saturday after Saturday after Saturday we shared.  Today felt like home!
...and of course, I always feel at home on a summit...
This is my north summit shot at Volcano Ridge.
We tucked into a space that sheltered us from the wind and where we could feel the warmth of the sun.  It was time to dine and to scope out the slope to our left.  We were game to incorporate a tad more distance and exploring to our day and that autumny slope looked inviting.  
After more stories shared, we packed up our gear then hit the hill to descend.  
We widened our loop then arrived back at the meadowy area to where we were prior.   
Instead of ascending back to the south summit and making it an out and back from there, we agreed to broaden our day and our loop.  It seemed no one really wanted this day to end any sooner than necessary because it was flowing at such a fun and easy rate.  We reached the bridge that would lead us to the old, old grown over road which we would follow for the last few kilometres.  
The sun beat down, the wind had settled and the stories still flowed as we retreated from the Volcano Ridge area.  The colors were still a spectacle as we passed by the backside of Missinglink Mountain.   Almost six and a half hours later, it absolutely felt like old times and it felt like we could go on for another six and a half hours without a dull or quiet moment, maybe not the hiking part of it but most definitely the friendship aspect of it.  
I don't always like when we have to head home especially if it has been a fun day when ideal conditions, glorious scenery and fine friends make up the mix. To make the heading home part of the day a little more pleasing, I take time to think about what we just experienced and our conversations. 
The mountains reminded me today that even though our livestyles are diverse, our abilities vary and our ages range, there is that common theme of love for life, exploring & sharing in our mountain playground that bonds us together.

Thank you for making today what it was! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

a Moose plus a BEAR

It's been eons since I paid a visit to the Moose Mountain Lookout.  I picked this objective on Saturday evening knowing it would be a great one for today being closer to home, on the easier side, others around so safe to solo. With that plan firmed up, I filled up yesterday accomplishing a to-do list, to free up today to play.   I hoped there would be no surprises like unadvertised trail closures.   I arrived at the parking lot, the first one to do so this fine morning and hit the trail with still no others even arriving.  The first few kilometers in the trees were quick, I was loud, and made it all business.

Then the views began. 
My destination is behind that hump in the middle.
I was looking forward to arriving at that flat brown section center right.
at the flat brown section now
still with my destination hidden behind that humongous hill
I loved the cloud performance.  
I made it to that hill going up it and down the other side of it and now I could fully see the Lookout and the trail to it.  I could also see a foursome far behind me.  I knew I would be first to arrive.  I had heard that the lookout attendant would sometimes offer an inside tour, I hoped for that today.  But, I arrived to a boarded up building.  Nobody home.  
This place has its own little world of weather. It was wildly windy & crazy cold!  That did not stop me from setting up my tripod and going for my "leap of love".   I had the heli-pad to myself to jump as I pleased so jump I did.   Once that was taken care of it was on with the balance of the business.
I pulled the guest book out of the mailbox and gave it my john-henry.
nobody home
which meant.....
.....I could go up on deck and hunker down to dine.  I donned all my layers then enjoyed my turkey sandwich and the view directly in front of me.  I could see no one on the trail far below but I could hear those four I saw earlier as they arrived at the back of the Lookout.  We shared pleasantries, then I  layered down & geared up and offered them ownership.

Before hitting the trail down, I took a few moments to view the vastness....  
...and to think of my Mom who was no longer with us on Thanksgiving weekend a few years ago.  

I look into my inmost mind,
and here her inspiration find.
In all I am and hear and see,
my precious Mother is with me.
Once off the Lookout Mountain, I beelined straight down the lower hill instead of sticking with the switchbacks which I took for the ascent.  Instead of sticking with the next section of main trail, I meandered throughout the grassy, spongy, meadow.  I liked it there.  I eventually made my way back to the main trail, then seeing loads of scattered folks making their way up.  I missed them passing by while I meandered.    

Now back on the thick tree-lined trail I noticed kicked over rocks, just thought it's the kids that passed.  Then I noticed diggings on the grassy sides which were not there on the way up.  Then movement caught my eye, oh my.  Those were my words "oh my"!  I took a quick photo while the grizzly's rump was facing me and while it was furiously digging then I skedaddled out of there.  I caught up with a couple who had seen it and decided to turn back instead of carrying on to the Lookout.  I stuck with them all the while we warned many people just heading in.  It was scary but I have to admit too that it was exciting.  I can say that now after having a safe experience.  
What are the odds!  Two weeks in a row I arrived at trail-heads only to see signs of bear closures.  There was no bear closure sign today but boy oh boy, was there a bear.  All I can say about that grizzly was that it was just plain down right FAT!  Nice to see that it was looking healthy.  Now go to bed bear!   

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Many Thanks on Thanksgiving Saturday

Arriving at the trail head this morning, it was deja vu but different!  Our planned destination was Mt Lipsett.  Like always, I checked the trail reports last night and again this morning before heading out the door, I also performed additional googling just in case something changed that was not formally noted on the Parks Website.  We knew of the closure in a close by area, we know bears meander and move on, we always plan for that.  Our intended destination was not highlighted for warning or closure anywhere or in anyway.  This sign was at our trail head.  While there was no ribbon nor sign that said stay out, we felt a tad confused. Someone scratched out "west" and wrote in "east", someone also added "ahead" with an arrow under closed pointing to the direction we were to go.  For us it wasn't worth it to waste any more time trying to decipher what the heck was going on here!  We then had a 3 second conversation that went like this:  

Short Stop says "Where do we go now?"
Making Waves replies "Grizzly Col!"
Short Stop confirms "Let's go!"
We made our way back to the Highwood Pass Parking Lot then geared up in cloud, cold, wind, sprinkles and icy pellets.  I was thinking this was going to be another save the day type of day.  I was thankful to be with the folks I was with because we are proficient in accomplishing that type of task.  By 9:15 we were on the trail with Nikita leading the way and setting the pace for a quick arrival at Pocaterra Tarn. The lighting was odd which suited a day that was feeling odd yet this view was golden to me.    
I was hoping for no snow for our ascent to Grizzly Col which is center in the shot.  Rounding the corner and being afforded a wide open view, I was thankful to see a clear trail to the top.  We were already noticing the clouds were have a fabulous play day and here they danced to present us with a blue heart. I love days like this!   
After some steep slog sections and areas of wet & wild, we reached the Col, took a few minutes then carried on even further up to Grizzly Ridge.  The highway is far below as you can see that thin beige line to the right of my feet.  I was happy to be here and I was thankful the sky was clearing, and of course, that called for my "leap of love" for a day that we were successfully saving.
We carried on along the rocky ridge dropping down to find a sheltered spot that would be suitable to dine.  There would be no shelter no where this day.  We bundled up, settled down, enjoyed the view and pumpkin pie too.  This was my view to savour as I savoured that pie.  You can see the remaining part of Grizzly Ridge to the right and Mist Mountain to the left with our original objective of Mount Lipsett below it.  Many thanks for your consideration yesterday in gathering up pie and fruit for me and toting it along today.  
view of Highwood Ridge across Paradise Valley
We ascended back to the top of Grizzly Ridge.  
We eyed the traverse from Grizzly to Highwood but our goal was to the summit cairn and no further.  
today's summit shot
this was the deciding point that my new jacket is a keeper
it worked for me in every way I needed it to
At this point we just landed back at Grizzly Col.  We descended that slope to the left and took a moment to enjoy the valley view in front of us before heading back down to the valley behind us.  I wanted to watch the foursome that were beginning their ascent to the Tyrwhitt window.  A few minutes into their movement we decided that was probably not a good idea, we saw a big black cloud above them, we were feeling the sprinkles coming done, we saw the wet ground, we saw only one helmet which was on the lead, we were not sure what was happening with the person at the bottom and when we heard the very loud yelling of "rock" coming from that group,  we voiced "I hope we don't read about this on the Kananaskis Safety site".  We moved on down....
...and we arrived at the valley below the Grizzly Col with Pocaterra in front of us.  The trip down was a slow go in sections as the ground was softer and we took care with our foot placement.  Thankfully all that worked well for us.  
We explored a bit here and there, took some down time in a lovely meadow we dubbed "Surprise Meadow". We snacked, chatted, admired the scenery and played in the meadow's boulder field.  Then is was time to gear back up and finish saving our day. 
After Pocaterra Tarn, we made our way through the rocky park and saw shiny along side the trail.  We stopped, we were intrigued, we wondered & pondered.  These two rings were sitting beside a small cairn.  We admired them, we did touch them to see what they could be all about then placed them securely back in their place.  They could represent a very personal touching story!  We may never know!
Sometimes when we are hiking I get lost in my own thoughts oblivious to what is happening around me.  I arrive back to the middle of conversations only catching the end of them and in my mind try to sipher what were my friends thinking or discussing leading them to say some of the things they said.  For example, as we were heading home I know why I said what I said but what about you Short Stop and Agent-X and Nakita what were you thinking?
Throw a closed trail sign our way, give us sh** weather, offer us yuck trail conditions!  
There is no messing with us!
Our mountain days mean too much!
We know how to save the day!

while our day was filled with lots of odds 
we still found much to be thankful for