Sunday, January 31, 2016

Palm Springs Day 2 Murray Canyon

As I stated in yesterday's blog post, I had to return to Palm Springs because I left a piece of my heart here.  Another reason for returning is because the last time I only completed 6 of the 140 hikes in this area, I have so much more play to accomplish.  The forecasters have been calling for a winter storm (I call it a desert storm) to arrive mid afternoon. It would be heavy rain with damaging winds.  I picked a hike called Murray Canyon from my "to-do this time" list.  It's close by in Indian Canyons, the Canyon Rangers would be keeping a watchful eye,  I could be done by noon and back home safe and sound before the storm.

Just before the entrance to Indian Canyons, I had to pull over to capture this sight. It was raining somewhere!  For me, it felt like the calm before the storm.  The air was warm & still with blue sky above me, yet it looked menacing in the far off distance.
I passed through the booth, and made my way to the Murray Canyon parking lot. The Ranger was at the bridge just before the parking lot.  We chatted for a few minutes.  As there are a few trails that lead off from this area, he wanted to know my plan.  I was to park right in front of the trailhead sign. He needed to keep track where all hikers were headed this morning.  

I parked, then geared up and went on my way.  I now remembered why I love California desert hiking.  That desert air, the palm trees, the sandy dirt, the scenery, what a package deal.  
                                            along the Murray Canyon Trail
                                                       a lonely palm tree
                      loving being right smack in the middle of the desolate desert
The Murray Canyon Trail has many creek crossings with strategically placed large stepping stones.  It was fun to follow all the way to the end where the Seven Sisters Waterfall is.  What a tranquil location. 
I stayed long enough to capture a few photos and breathe in the beauty, then got going with the return portion of the hike.  I kept an eye on the sky as I went.  The bad weather was no way near yet, so I sauntered somewhat to appreciate the geology.                                    
                                                             colourful rocks
                                               what's a desert without cactus
Nearing the end of my hike sprinkles started, then sparse showers then full on showers but not quite rain.  It was still warm and the showers were refreshing and added a glisten to the surroundings.  I still made sure to enjoy every little thing.
The Ranger was still at the trail head when I finished and we waved acknowledgement.  Then I think I saw him make a check mark on a clipboard. Time for me to make a check mark too, I have now completed a total of 7 of the 140 hikes in the Palm Springs area.  I made it back to my sweet condo and settled in with the sliding doors open, while the rain poured down and the birds chirped.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Palm Springs Day 1

Ever since my first trip to Palm Springs in November of 2014, I knew I would need to come back because I left a piece of my heart here.  With life's happenings both work & personal, right now was ideal timing to chase my heart.  I arrived with loads of time to take advantage of the desert sun and settle in by relaxing at the pool. 
From my deck I have a view of the San Jacinto Mountains, albeit obscured by numerous Palm trees.
I knew this condo was for me.  No need for an explanation here, if you are a follower or friend, you will easily figure it out from the array of photos I have to share. This home away from home is bright, cheerful and colourful....from the throw pillows......
                                      the wall decorations......
                                              the pool towels.....
                                                the clock.....
                                         the hot plate.....
                                      the dish towels.....
                                                the spatula.....
                                          the floor ornaments.....
                              ....and many, many more accent pieces and such.  

I feel quite at home here, almost like I belong.  I will see what Sunday brings, they are calling for a desert storm, something I have never experienced before.   That being said, I am happy to be here.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Peyto Great Divide there's no place I'd rather be....

....than spending another day in Paradise!  I have been very fortunate with all things lining up that need to line up to afford me numerous days of feeling like I am in paradise when I have been X-C Skiing this season.  Today was just another one of those days.   I know this sport can be fickle with conditions so while they are prime I am on the bandwagon.

A friend suggested an alternate route to reach the Great Divide Trail.  I have skied the Great Divide a few times so adding a touch of variety was welcome.  How about this as a view in the parking lot as I geared up to hit the Peyto Trail.  Yes, all things were pointing up for an A1 Day on the old 1A.
the view behind me at the very beginning
I was a little confused as to where I was and what I was seeing then realized once I heard the horses whining.  I did not know this area existed.  It's the stables for the horses that take you on the sleigh rides.  It's quite the facility surrounded by amazing scenery.
After a couple of kilometers I reached the intersection with the Great Divide.  My options were to veer west on this track or go straight to the Lower Telemark.  I opted to veer west.  The track was newly set, there was no one other than me and Andrew the groomer, and this was paradise to me.  
a little later along came the dog sled teams
so wintry, so Canadiana, so enjoyable, so perfect 
It use to seem to take forever to reach the border between Alberta and British Columbia, but not today.  After greeting in passing two ladies who came from Yoho, I then owned the Divide that was until a few minutes later when Andrew, my Knight on Shining X-C Ski grooming equipment came along.  We exchanged pleasantries then both went about our day.. 
I headed further west towards Yoho.
Summit Lake & Mount Bosworth
seeing the Great Divide Border from further west
Just like heading west, heading back east passed quickly and I was back at my turn off up Peyto and Telemark before I knew it.   It felt warm, the snow was still cold, I was beginning to feel tired, and now it was all up hill back to the parking lot.
in the meadow along Upper Telemark
passing by the horse stables again
I enjoyed this section of the Peyto Trail.  The meadow was open in areas and sparsely populated with trees in other places.  The lighting and shadows offered up a fitting paradise-like scene, one which was perfect to end my X-C Ski trip on.
What can I say, other than,
Thank You for this day in Paradise!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pipestone keeps getting better

Waking so close to the trail head for the Pipestone X-C Ski Trails, it was time to give this place a try. It has been on my list of tracks to try for the two winters past, but an ideal opportunity did not present itself until today.  I snowshoed around sections of it two years ago so had a bit of an idea what Pipestone was all about.  My homework showed the tracks were just groomed yesterday too.

kiosk at the parking lot
The X-C Ski trail is on the other side of the gate, so that means you go up the stairs, open the door, pass through, close the door then down the stairs to the track.   
I began on the intermediate trail called Pipestone.
I got to hone my herringbone technique on this track.
There was loads of climbing through the forest without much scenery but that was fine, it was good to just concentrate and get all the hard work out of the way. Once at the main intersection, it was views galore for the balance of the ski.  I hung a right and aimed for Mud Lake.  It appeared no one had been on this track since it was groomed yesterday.  
on Mud Lake
view from Mud Lake
The Drummond Trail is an out and back to Mud Lake and then continues on to Pipestone Pond.  
This section of Drummond was glorious.
Pipestone Pond was so pretty.  The sun was up and felt warm and it afforded a location shadow shot.  The views were of the 360 degree kind here.  I took a little time just to breathe it all in. 
Drummond Trail circumnavigated a short section of the Pond and then veered left away from it.  I opted for this route instead of the blue square route.  I will test that section of the Pipestone Trail the next time around.  
view from opposite side of Pipestone Pond
O.K. Hector, take me home!  
I am leaning towards Hector being my favourite in this area.  It had open meadows, some nice down hills with corners and the scenery was outstanding.  The untouched snow-covered meadows with shadows was worthy of a few minutes of admiration.
view along the way
seeing the fence means nearing the finish
just about home
Today's X-C Ski was a rewarding one.  
I felt tired, fullfilled and content!
Thank you for this day!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fairview Moraine Tramline busy taking time

When it's time to just take time, life should not be so busy unless that is, it is the fun kind of busy.  Like I stated in yesterday's blog post, it had been almost a month since I was on my X-C Skis skiing the big tracks further west.  So here I am back at Lake Louise where the weather & track conditions could not be more favourable.  It was a big day which means a big blog post, now it's your turn to take a little time and follow along.

I woke without a track selection in mind.  After checking reviews and reports, I decided to start the day skiing the Fairview/Moraine/Tramline Loop.  This is what it looked like as I stepped into the track. It was quite chilly but not overly cold.  There was no wind, not a sound, nor even another folk.
                                            gigantic snowballs guide the way                            
Along the Fairview Trail there are a few open meadows that offer up mountainous views.  I tested the snow depths off trail and gingerly worked my way in to obtain a location shot.  
     delicate crystals                                         
I have come to enjoy being on the Fairview Trail, it has a little bit of everything I desire in X-C Skiing right now.  It is another world when you empty out onto the Moraine Lake Road.  I use that track as a means to get to another track.  Moraine Lake Road was busy.  Snowshoers, FatTireBikers and X-C Skiers all worked together.  
The trip down Moraine Lake Road was quick.  At the intersection, I veered left and made my way up The Upper Tramline to complete a loop.  The Tramline was the prettiest of the three times I have been on it.
After lunch time sitting in my car admiring Mount Fairview, I walked over to Lake Louise and The Chateau to see the ice sculptures.  On the way, of course, I had to secure a reflection photo.                                                                       
                                                  view through the opening of one sculpture                                 
The location of the sculptures seem to be in ideal places and at perfect angles to optimize photo opportunities.  Or is it just me seeing them that way.
                                                                      a life size Inukshuk
                                                                            a lace frame
                                                                rowing to the summit of Fairview
                               Then you have Mother Nature's ice sculpture.
There did not seem to be as many ice sculptures as previous years.  Some spots remained vacant.  Maybe that is just a sign of the times.  On the other hand, tourists are flocking to Lake Louise.  On this Monday, the area was as busy as any given summer day.

Now it was time to get on with my afternoon down in The Village. The Bow River Loop is a given for ease of energy and bundles of beauty.  Since mid December, I have been X-C Skiing with my new bright orange Osprey Talon 18.  It's a keeper, I knew that from day one.  
Lots of new snow from the weekend, made this track and scenery a delight.  Off the track through the trees are signs along the summer hiking trail. I preferred to pass on seeing what the sign said, rather leaving it looking like this for others to enjoy.
                                                     crossing to the other side
I believe this is campsite #165.  You can see the sign in the middle just left of the snow covered picnic table.  
                                                              along the way
Like I said, this loop is a given for pretty as a picture scenery.  I must admit, this is the prettiest I have ever seen this part of the Bow River that runs through the Village and the Campground.  I opted to stick to the River Loop instead of heading into sections of the Campground Loop for obvious reasons.
Nearing the end and just before crossing the last bridge, one last view caught my eye so I captured it.  A few flurries were beginning to fall and I could see dark clouds off in the other direction.  While this is a lovely sight, so are the dark clouds because they mean one thing, more snow!
               At my home away from home, I settled in with a glass of wine and a view.
I always hope for ideal & perfect when I head west to play but I'm always game to accept what ever I am given.  So after a day like today, all I can say is I never take for granted a gift like this day was, I treasure the time and I am thankful for it.