Saturday, July 11, 2015

Healy Ramparts Simpson wildflowers and so much more

I do hope you are able to stay with my story, 
get through all the wildflowers then 
come along with me for the,  
"and so much more"!  

The 27 kilometer planned route for today was to hike up the Healy Creek Trail, reach Healy Pass, ascend to The Monarch Ramparts, sail along it, descend to Eohippus Lake, continue to Simpson Pass then intersect the Healy Creek Trail again and aim for the end from there.  The Parks People said the wildflower season is two weeks ahead of schedule and that prime time is right now.  That being said, we went right now!  After all, the whole purpose for today's journey was all about the wildflowers.  Unexpectedly, this outing turned into an adventure with "so much more".

the beginning of the wildflower performance
Once the performance began, we settled in to enjoy it thoroughly.  The pace was that of a snails.  There was no other way to observe it.  We gave it our full undivided attention which it was deserving of.  Those Parks People were precise with their prediction.  
loads of red & fuchsia paintbrush
The views of wildflowers were 360 degrees.  
As we neared Healy Pass, the view of The Monarch Ramparts was visible for the entire stretch of it.  I wanted to be amongst it all today so sandwiched myself between the wildflowers and The Ramparts.    The colorful array was a sight to be seen.
approaching Healy Pass
Healy Pass
We found a spot off on the rocks at Healy Pass to enjoy the view and to have a quick lunch.  
The smoky haze from the north obstructed our view.  
We made our way up onto The Monarch Ramparts and began to sail.  It was calm, hot, humid and it was an amazing place to set foot.  We took time for summit shots and this is mine with the British Columbia mountains of the Kootenay area behind me.  
sailing along towards The  Monarch
Mid sail, we checked out the clouds in the surrounding distance.  It appeared to be fine for us, no rain, nothing dark near by.  Then, just like that, it came.  A bolt of lighting flashed right before our eyes and not even a second later a deafening crash of thunder rattled us.  Then a few seconds later after dropping our poles and dashing down slope, we found shelter.  We were amongst small, sparse trees, with our feet firmly planted and a good amount of space between each of us.   We stayed put for quite some time. When we felt it safe to do so, we ascended back up to the top and retrieved our poles.  Note to self:  that's two for two for lightning strikes on hikes with one of my friends! Hhhmmm!!!
We were now on the somber side, moving quickly with a purpose and that was to get off The Monarch Ramparts.  We reached Eohippus Lake and sat near the trees for our second lunch, in case we needed to make another mad dash to safety.  On the way down the flower performance started again.  A few quick photos was all I was in the mood for.       
The plan was for a 30 minute dining break but the bugs were plentiful and pesty.  We sat very quietly and fueled up.  A few of us meandered a bit, taking a shot or two.  We were oblivious to our surroundings other than having our eyes on the sky.  
After capturing one last photo, I suggested we pack up and get a move on.  
Still with our eyes on the sky and hearing thunder so very far away, we were ready to move.  
Out of the corner of my eye and it seemed like out of the corner of each of our eyes, we spotted brown movement 70 meters away.  That brown movement turned out being three grizzly bears coming our way.  It was a family, mom and her two big yearlings.   We became vocal as we hoovered and watched their movement before making our move. Mom eyed us once then twice then a third before gathering her young ones and making a mad dash away.  There would be no mad dashing by us in a situation like this.  We gave them space and time and then went on our way which happened to be in the same direction.  We hooted & hollered and remained as a tight knit unit.

The interest in photo taking fell by the wayside.  We just wanted to make our way quickly.  We reached Simpson Pass where we left British Columbia.....

...and arrived back home to Alberta, it was good to be home again.
Our day wasn't over yet, we still had about 7 kilometers of distance to deal with.  Our guard remained in place the balance of the way.   After nine hours of hiking we arrived back at the Sunshine Ski Hill Parking Lot.  Some were sore and some were tired but we were all safe.  We were presented with more than we had hoped for on this day.  But, when you are experienced and go prepared, play smartly and safely, you can look on the bright side of everything and turned those intense and scary times into moments to remember and even find bits of humor.  Glad I got to share this day with you! 


  1. How scary to be caught up in a thunderstorm! Glad you and your friends were okay. Those flowers are incredible!

  2. 27 kms of awesome nature. Some scary. Most spirit lifting. Totally beautiful. I would so love to walk through the fields of wildflowers.
    I can understand that you dropped your poles, but wonder why you ran to trees. Too many people here in Aus have died from sheltering under trees struck by lightning.


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