Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I love that saying from the movie WILD!  
It goes like this "I didn't know where I was going until I got there"!

For NOW, as 2014 draws to a close, I have finalized "OUT & ABOUT in 2014".  Since I started tracking in 2010, the distance I cover each year horizontally and vertically, I feel proud to report that this was a stellar year horizontally for me reaching a whopping total of 828 kilometers of distance covered.  Vertically was mid pack at 32.3 kilometers of elevation gain.  My trips to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Palm Springs where I hiked  for numerous days straight, helped elevate those numbers. 

At year's end, I like to pick an outstanding, for me for one reason or another, photo for each month to share with you.  This time around, that has evolved into a slide show.  If you have an additional spare 4 minutes and 2 seconds + 15 seconds, click on the 2014 4:02 of HAPPY link below (it will take 15 seconds to wind up then begin).    

NEXT, I have "OUT & ABOUT in 2015" designed.  I'm looking forward to this new year with even more enthusiasm.  I already have one big exciting trip booked and there is hope for two more on top of that.  Over the past number of years, I have given up making New Year's Resolutions preferring to stick with always trying to make the most of each day, live life large, be thankful & appreciative for the life I have and to "remember to breathe".

I hope your new year brings you 
plenty of peace
heaps of happiness
loads of laughs


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Present! Gift! Open!

Hhuumm!  Let's see!  Well!  Hhumm, aaahh!  
Today was one of those days! 
It is hard to find the words to properly describe it!
 Or to give it the justice it deserves!  

The forecast did not call for the greatest for Spray Valley Provincial Park.  It was cloudy, dark and on the dismal side for the drive down the 742.  But, we are both believers the day is whatever you make it, and no matter what we were handed, we would make today something.  We geared up and went on our way, not seeing much but grey sky, a tiny bit of a mountain view and snow covered trees.
We opted for the left trail that would give us the opportunity to descend to the gully where we could enjoy some deep snow, some bushwhacking and route finding and just fun in general.  This would eventually afford us a loop too.  We spent some time enjoying this section then when we exited and met up with the main trail WOW!  What a sight!  We knew we were in for something!  
We eyed our destination ahead of us.  We got lost in the beauty and the moment.  You get to learn to appreciate what is around you and the only thing that matters in time is the present.  Right here, right now.  We began to realize considering what we were expecting for today, this was the opposite.  We were handed a gift!   
We glady accepted it with open arms!  
We reached Shark Lake, which was frozen solid and snow covered, and where a path showed us the way across.  We fully unwrapped that gift we received and opened our hearts and minds to let that child within come to the forefront.  Mid lake wonderment!

 "This is what it looks like!" 
We eventually made our way to the far end of Shark Lake and settle in to dine.  We placed the large tarp, spread out our gear, set up our packs as pillows, chatted, dined, laughed, smiled and watched the sky turn bluer and bluer.  We were acknowledging the present and the gift.
our view to the left
our view to the right
our view straight ahead
and to where we aimed after an hour spent treasuring Shark Lake
We bundled up and made our way back across the Lake and into a short section of forest before coming out into the open again.  If we had been a minute sooner or a minute later the timing would have been off to see this jet stream so perfectly aligned with the tree.
There was so much snow everywhere.  
It was time to stick to the main trail and make our way back to the vehicle.    
The whole while we had this in sight.
Hhuumm!  Let's see!  Well!  Hhummaaahh!  Yup, I'm still stumped for words but I am sure after seeing what our day looked like, you know what I mean when I say today was a gift!  Thank you so much in sharing in making today the kind of day it was.  Yes, and that is what it takes, you make your day what you want it to be!  You acknowledge here today and right now, you accept the gift and you open it whole-heartedly!  

Friday, December 26, 2014

First & Foremost

What an utterly amazing kick-off I had to this new snowshoe season!  "First & Foremost" Chester Lake & The Elephant Rocks & my friends & the weather & the conditions, well I guess it's many firsts & foremosts that made it utterly amazing.    I was so happy friends were game to share their Boxing Day blow-away in the same way I like to.  No crowds for us today and no money spent as our  choice way is priceless.  

With a wide open empty parking lot, we were able to pick a spot right at the main door to our adventure.  It was rather cold yet sunshiny bright.  It takes awhile to gear up for a snowshoe trek especially when it is the first trek of the season, making sure things are secure.  We aimed for the entrance and quickly began the ascent to warm up.  We needed lots of stops to adjust gear & layers at first then we were fine.

With the blue sky and fresh snow, the meadow looked like paradise. 
It's fun to let your imagine play along.
I see an extra-large marshmallow!
I hoped my friends would be in a playful frame of mind today.  After all, yesterday was full of feasting and late nights.  We spread out, got on our mark, got set, and went.  The result was a four way tie.  We were quickly working up an appetite.  We reached Chester Lake and then carried on with the ascent up to....
The Elephant Rocks
We picked a sunny open spot to dine and basque in. I savoured my turkey sandwich and hot tea.  The lunch time view was pretty, it was quiet and thoroughly enjoyable.  One other group owned the smaller set of Rocks off in the adjacent section out of sight while we rocked the main Elephant Rocks.
my destination shot
After a lengthy time spent photographing & playing around The Elephant Rocks, we headed back down to Chester Lake and the surrounding meadows. The wide open untouched spaces were unresistable.  We meandered.  We frolicked.  We dashed here & there.  
a stunning scene as we cross back aiming for the trees
The Fist in the center.  
As the edge of the meadow and just before entering the forest to begin our descent, I took one last look back said my "good-bye" & "see you again".  We looked for safe sections off the beaten track where we could spring along descending through soft stuff.  This made a quick trip down even though we were feeling we didn't want it to end soon.  
This was the perfect kind of "fist & foremost" day.   
It ignited a spark of excitement for this snowshoe season.
Thank you for your joyfulness today!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Mountain Retreat Day 4

It was now time to clip into my X-C Skis for the first time after taking lessons again a few weeks back.  Conditions have not been very good anywhere with the lack of snow but last night and early this morning Lake Louise was blessed with a few centimeters.  That was just enough to make the Moraine Lake Road track ideal for me.
In fact, grooming was in progress while I skied.
He was building the down hill track.
view along the way
I had to delayer shortly into my trip.  The area is sheltered, the sun was beating down and the temperature was hoovering high.  It paid to start on the earlier side as there were only three vehicles in the lot when I arrived.  I had opportunities to stop and capture moments.
my ski spot stop shot
I had only ever been in this area when it is open for driving up to Moraine Lake.  As a beginner, I like that it is wide open.  I like the gentle up hills.  I like how it winds around here and there.  Even though from driving it, I know what is around each corner but it looks different draped in snow.  
scenic sight just off the track
I spent two hours on my skis working up an appetite.  The place to take care of that issue would be Laggan's in the Lake Louise town site.  It was warm and cozy, smelled nice and had that festive feeling.   I was content with my ski and content where I was at this point in time.  As I felt the sun shine in on me through the window with a view..... 
.....I took time to give thanks for everything I have in life!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Mountain Retreat Day 3

And on Sunday they will rest!  I felt lazy and felt like staying at my home away from home today but then came to my senses and got out that door to enjoy another mountain retreat day.  Today started with a stroll along the river just one block from the shopping district as I waited for the stores to open their doors.
Shopping has its own therapeutic results and I knew I could benefit from participating.  I played my part for a couple of hours in the morning.  It wasn't crazy busy early on but then gradually, the streets filled, the stores filled, this was my sign to move on down the road.

The last time I drove the road during winter to Lake Minniwanka, it was nerve wracking being  snowy slippery sketchy, oh sh**!  Today, even though it is now winter, the conditions were late spring like which meant mostly ground, some slush, no problemo!  I can handle this.  
Arriving at the Lake Minniwanka parking lot, it was obvious there would be no snowshoeing nor X-Skiing here, yet a great opportunity to hike. The lake shore was pretty and offered up a photographers dream.  

Feeling like a tourist myself these days, I waited in line for my turn to get a photo with the "red chairs".  It was fun to see how the tourists were intrigued with these and how they enjoyed them.  Each were finding their own way to capture their moment in time.  This was how I choose to do it.
my destination shot
I got caught up in the beauty and lost track of time.  
What does time matter anyway given my reasons for retreating.
along Stewart Canyon
When I did eventually feel full, I aimed for my home away from home.
 The plan was to lay low for the balance of this new winter's day.  
But first, ended my day with a view of Mount Rundle
I hung my newly purchased Christmas decorations on the coat rack with care.
...then put my feet up to relax!
I am loving these socks.  They are recovery compression socks and feel like a continuous massage to my feet and legs when I wear them after being out and about all day.  I first gave them a try in Palm Springs back in November.  I wanted to give myself the best chance to be on the go every day with no tiredness.  They are working for me!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Mountain Retreat Day 2

Etchings were on my mind of something to accomplish while on my mountain retreat.  I have my own equipment so packed that into the car this morning then aimed for even further west to Lake Louise.  I like my etchings to be pure and obvious so that would mean an early start.  
I arrived at the set up area at 9:15am seeing only two others so far, designing their creations.  I laced up my skates, planted the blades on the ice and skated off.   The sound of the blades etching into the surface was wonderful.  Hearing that sound, coupled with the vision surrounding me, afforded me that lost feeling of being so far removed from any cares or worries.  The sharp edges made distinct carvings. I could see the smoothness, geometric, fine lines.  I would have to call my etchings abstract, I could not figure out what they looked like.  
An hour later, after thoroughly enjoying the exercise, fresh air, 
castle & throne...

...it was time to move on down the Lake.  

From skates to boots in a matter of minutes, I hugged the shoreline of Lake Louise and hiked to the far end, right to the new Avalanche warning sign. The views along the way were enjoyable.

two horse open sleigh
 winter wonderland
 she walked into my photo shoot and created a reflection
 along the way
By early afternoon I arrived back at The Chateau looking forward to savouring a glass of ice wine at the Ice Bar, but to my dismay, the bar was closed today.  I didn't let that dampen my spirits, I settled down on a bench and enjoyed my hot tea, while soft snow flakes flurried about me.  The snow was accumulating on the trees.
Now it was time to head back to my home away from home. 
There I could put my feet up and relax.