Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mt St Piran HOT Women! HOT Day! HOT Damn!

There was no discussion what-so-ever whether we should postpone today's hike, alter it, play it by ear, or outright cancel it when we all knew exactly what the forecast was and what we would be in for on our hike up to Mount Saint Piran.  The forecast was for HOT!   When it gets above 30C, the numbers mean nothing.  The only altering for me was to wear my airiest attire, bring additional water, add electrolytes to some of that water, include turkey bacon, make sure my hat is packed and pile on the sunscreen.  On top of that the pace would be slower with frequent stops.  Consensus?  Check!  

We arrived shortly after 9:00am and already had to park in the second parking lot.  It was a smart move arriving earlier rather than any later.  There was no need to layer up at the start, it was shorts & short sleeve shirt right from the get-go.  We admired Lake Louise for a matter of mere seconds more in favour of just getting going on our mission.

The first stop is Mirror Lake with the Big Beehive behind it.
We continued on and detoured away from Lake Agnes and aimed for the Little Beehive.  Shortly before arriving there, we hung a left at the big rock and scratched out sign and began on ascent up to Mount Saint Piran.  The time in the trees is short and unmentionable. Then it's grand vista time!  We are already looking down onto the Big Beehive and across to Mount Lefroy and Devil's Thumb.
The long switchbacks make this ascent easy and enjoyable.
This is one of those hikes where the reward by far exceeds the effort.
Before making our way to the summit, at the Col, we took the short detour to the right to hike along the narrow ridge to its end.  Short Stop and Nikita were game to join me at the edge.  It was nearing noon and already in the high 20s away up here.  HOT Women?  Check!   
I felt like I was flying high
We reached the summit of Mount Saint Piran and took quite some time to catch our breath and take in the views.  The breeze was most welcome, so were the very light fluffy clouds that accumulated.   They make our photos.
of course there has to be a tad of silliness
I love this view and shoot it whenever I am here.  
Today was the most beautiful of the few times I have been on Piran.
my summit shot
our summit shot in front of Mount Whyte and Mount Niblock
a mountain top garden
We found a place to settle down to dine.  It was time for more sunscreen and a hat and to consume lots of salt and fluids.  We discussed our next plan of attack and that was to descend the backside of Mount Saint Piran to Goat Pass and find our way off that to Lake Agnes.  I saw this down pointing cloud as a sign it was time for us to head down.   This was Nikita's first time on this mountain, and it would be my first time to descend via this route.  Short Stop took control from here on in and got us safely down.
at the Pass after the steep scrambly section down the rocky part
at Goat Pass
This next section was all business.  There was no picture taking, there were some choice thoughts on my part that are best kept to me, and there were a few words verbally outed. I am sorry for that!  We arrived down after quite some time.  I looked back to where we just came from and you can't get a true perspective off the steepness and the conditions.  I was thankful that part was over with!  
I was even more thankful to see Lake Agnes, to see water.  HOT day?  Check!  
We made a beeline right to the shore of the Lake.  We settled down on a gigantic slab where we could drop our gear, spread out and just breathe lighter.  It was time to replenish the sunscreen and top up on food and fluid.  You can see the Lake Agnes Tea House middle center in the back.  
The hike would be easy from here on in.  I admired the Lake one last time then we geared up and began our hike to complete the last few kilometers to the parking lot.  It was even hotter and we welcomed being back in the trees.  
We attacked our day smartly and it pays to be extra vigilant in doing that on a 30+ degree day in the mountains where there is great elevation and exposure to the elements.  It certainly pays too when all parties are playing on the same page.  This was a win win win day for the three of us.  We accomplished lots.  

HOT Women?  Check!
HOT Day? Check!
HOT Damn? Check!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wawa Ridge gentle on my mind

Have you seen the video by The Band Perry called "Gentle On My Mind"?  The first time I saw it a couple of months ago, I could immediately resonate with the guy as soon as she read his note that said "had to go".  I often feel like I have to go!  I "had to go" today to Sunshine Meadows.  I purchased my bus ticket for today well over a week prior then watched the weather forecast praying for conducive conditions.  The true anticipation began driving up that Sunshine Ski Hill Road.  Rounding the corner and getting that initial view only increased the level of anticipation because this is what it looked like.
We arrived with plenty of time to gear up, check-in, obtain our ticket, then get in line at the bus door. We were first.  After the five kilometer drive making 500 meters of elevation gain, we arrived at Sunshine Village with a plan now in place.  We would begin in a counter clock-wise direction.  We could see already there would be no snow to deal with.  The grass was green and flowers were blooming.
After the first section of elevation gain, we reached the Monarch Viewpoint.  
Views like these sure are gentle on my mind.  
Our first goal was to find our way to Wawa Ridge.  Neither of us having been before, we did not know what to expect but would figure out our way as we went.  Standing at the Monarch Viewpoint and facing The Monarch and The Monarch Rampart, we turned to our right and made our way along a trail that lead to a wide open space.  The terrain was soft light screen and green grassy patches which was not only gentle on my feet but on my knees too.  
We reached the top of Wawa Ridge to find this massive summit cairn.  
We loved being here!
my summit shot
We strolled to the far end of the Ridge to where there was a drop off.  
This was obviously a climbers wall as there were hooks and cables in place.  
No climbers today though.  
A portion of Sunshine Meadows was visible far below us.
happy to be high on a place that is gentle on my mind
Just before arriving back at the Meadows, we found a slightly slanted slope which was a great spot for a short stop to have snacks. From our snack spot, we saw another small ridge that looked inviting and decided we should fit that into our plan before meandering through the meadows.  This little ridge offered up a little more elevation gain and wonderful scenery. We were presented with lovely bouquets upon our arrival.
along the Twin Cairns Meadow Park Trail
it's just what we do when we are "out & about"
One of the reasons I "had to go" today was to capture reflections in one of the many tarns.  These tarns will not be around long. With no snow left and warm weather in the forecast, they will soon be dried up.
We incorporated some off trail today along the way.  We found our own way up to the border sign.  Short Stop is in British Columbia while I am in Alberta.  Having already gained back that lost elevation, we just scooted across this section..... The Standish Viewpoint.  That is Rock Isle Lake to the left and Larix Lake to the right.  You can see Mount Assiniboine top left peaking out from Quartz Ridge.  There was not much snow over in that direction either.  We took a short break here to refuel as we still had the three Lakes to pay a visit.  
Mount Assiniboine
Just after descending from Standish Viewpoint and before veering off to bypass Rock Isle Lake, we discovered this hidden gem tucked behind bushes and trees.  This tarn with The Monarch in the background, while it was wide it was not deep, it will soon fade away to a puddle.

We made a quick trip past Grizzly Lake in favour of spending more time right here at Larix Lake.  We were sleeted on here, off and on over a short period.  The colors were outstanding, there were waterfalls galore, and a loon in the lake.  You probably have already figured out why I "had to go" today.
Not quite feeling ready to roll on, we settled down.  
We snacked again & took in the views.
The hike back up to Rock Isle Lake took awhile. That place was looking just so pretty, I needed a picture.  We stood and admired it and then carried on back down to it and circled around it.  We checked the time and when we saw it was 5:05pm and the last bus was leaving at 5:30pm, we put a plan in place.  This was to be our last taking time to admire the view spot. 
We still had 1.6 kms to go with a bit of elevation gain in there.  It was all business now and we ran, not fast but we ran.  We ran just like he did in the video when he "had to go".  As we got closer we could finally see the yellow bus still sitting there.  We motored down that last hill and towards the building.  I could see the lady upstairs looking out the window.  We arrived at 5:25 and I still had to climb the two flights of stairs to check in for our spots on the bus for the ride back down to the parking lot.  The lady said she watched us running down the hill.  

I was so glad that when I got that feeling that I "had to go" that Short Stop was game to go too.  Her suggestion of summiting Wawa Ridge made the day for me.  Thank you for that!  I never get tired of the Sunshine Meadows area.  No matter what the season, it has so much to offer.  Today left me with a peaceful easy feeling that was gentle on my mind and I like it like that!  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Larch Valley area follow your heart

I had a feeling earlier in the week that I wanted to follow my heart on Saturday!  I was ready to head further west and further up to where I would be surrounded by the really big mountains.  That was where I needed to be on this day, no matter what!  Two friends had the same heartfelt feelings.  The Moraine Lake Road only opened a couple of weeks ago and that road would take us exactly to where our hearts could sing.  Our goal was to just hike through Larch Valley to Minnestimma Lake which sits below Sentinel Pass.  We accomplished much more than that.

This is not the prettiest time to go here.  
The forecast was not on our side.  
The Park Trail Report recommended snowshoes.  
Why even bother?
Because we were following our hearts!

We came even though it is not the prettiest time, we didn't care about the weather and we ignored the snowshoe warning.  We beat all those odds against us. Larch Valley was bursting with western anemones.
I was excited for this part of the trail because it was just about time to experience being surrounded by all those really big mountains.  I was still wondering when were we going to encounter all that reported snow depth.  Well, that never did materialize.  There was no need for snowshoes nor microspikes.  
We continued right to Minnestimma Lake.  I was glad to see a small part of it was open and also that some of that pretty blue showed through.  The trail up to Sentinel Pass still had some large sections of snow on the slopes but people were still heading up there.  It was not in our plan for today.
my first destination shot
happy heart here
We were fortunate the showers did not happen, yet it was cold and windy so we decided to head to greener pastures to dine.  Instead of retracing our steps, we aimed for a lower lake we saw on the way up.  It was down in the valley below Mount Temple and it provided shelter and scenery.
We found a boulder field that looked inviting with perfectly placed rocks to sit and spread out.  We dined, discussed future plans, then eyed a route to attack once we refueled.  That route took us through a wonderful playground and we followed our hearts as we went.  This is what that looks like!
Pinnacle Mountain
Eiffel Peak & Pinnacle Mountain
Not ready to call it a day yet, we found our way through the forest, arriving back at the trail after just completing a large loop.  We crossed the trail, crossed the creek and aimed for a hill that would lead us to a ridge high above Larch Valley and far below Eiffel Peak.  As we climbed higher, the buds on the larch trees became more prominent.  These are the female buds.
We had a clear view of Mount Temple, all expect for the top.
This was a glorious place to be, on a ridge with Larch Valley below us on one side and the Valley of Ten Peaks below us on the opposite side.  We secured our photos before settling down to dine again.  Here we are in front of a few of the Ten Peaks.  
another destination shot
Larch Valley is far below
Sentinal Pass is at my finger tip
We made quick time getting off the ridge, back down to the intersection and along the switchbacks to Moraine Lake.  It was cold and windy, the canoes were out yet the concession stand was closed.  The surrounding area was busy but I did find a spot to capture my shot without folks in it.  
Now it was time to call it a day.  
My heart felt full because I followed it until it was content.  

I was so happy to be with friends who believe you go no matter what and you make the best of what you are handed.  It certainly paid off once again to follow that mantra.  The odds against us did not pan out.  It was a pretty day, we had no rain nor snow to contend with and the trail was totally clear.  Follow your heart and it will take you to great places!