Sunday, February 28, 2016

Prairie View Lookout February - nice brings ice

With February ending like a lamb, whatever I choose to do I knew would involve ice. I have more control hiking on ice than I do X-C Skiing on ice so I headed to the basement to retrieve some hiking gear with intentions of enjoying this Sunday hiking to the Barrier Lake Lookout.  When this morning came, my motivation level was near an all time low.  I himmmed & hawwwed!  I waffled & wavered!  Yes!  No!  Yes!  No!  When all was said and done, I worked my way out the front door and was on my way.    

Today very easily could have been a chasing photos day, the opportunities were there. 
like here - at the turnoff to where life begins - Highway 40 
A couple of vehicles were in the lot before me but not a soul in sight other than the conservation officers.  I wondered why they were hanging around here and even driving beyond the gate.  (Later I saw them handing out tickets to all the owners with dogs off leash.)  The sky was wild when I looked back at the view before heading toward the forest.
icy reflection
The ice started soon.
time to combat that
this traction device is my confidence in these conditions
I made it to this view spot and admired it for a few mere seconds before carrying on.
a little monkey business
I reached the rocky ridge at Prairie View Lookout.  Having to contend with sheer ice on the steep sections, I already knew this would be my high point for the day.  I have been to the Lookout before and the iced up trail made it not worth it to carry on today.  I found a spot with a view to enjoy my snack and sip my beverage.  
my destination shot
This was such a pretty place to be today.  It's simple to endure the chilliness when the sun is shining down and the sky is blue and the clouds are how I like them and there is no wind to contend with.  I passed the time just sitting and just being, it was just like being at home.  Well, home is where the heart is and my heart was here today. 
The descent was quick with the confidence of spikes on my soles.  Many folks were now heading up, some trying to find a safe way, others sharing the level of confidence I had which was good to see.  Nearing the end, I took a look back to see where I was and to admire everything one more time.  
I have completed this hike many times in the past, at times more beautiful and other times more fun.  But, there was something special about hiking here today and I believe it was that this time around I appreciated it the most.  Thank you for today!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Upper & Lower Telemark Great Divide.....and yet again.....

.....I was fortunate enough to experience another fabulous day on the X-C Ski trails in and around and up and down the Lake Louise area.  For the kind of trails and conditions I like, this area is my only option as we work our way through an unusually warm and dry February.   Snow did fall prior which had some tracks over top and I went early enough to enjoy the coolness and crispness in the air.  

shadows are for sure on this kind of day
I began at the trail head for The Great Divide but turned left at the first intersection to get the biggest uphills done early and when I was at my strongest.  I carried on further and in another direction in this area to gain a different vantage point of the ranch.  I envisioned myself sitting by a wood fire, by a window, sipping a coffee, enjoying a view.
After some time on the tracks up top, I aimed for down and it was quick.  Good that I owned it so I  could freely fly to the bottom.   The wide open untouched meadows looked pretty and at times I caught myself wishing I had my snowshoes on and was forging my way along breaking trail to where ever.  
yes shadows are for sure on a day like this
As usual, the dog-sled teams were running, today they ran the meadow track.  
The Upper Telemark had the best views today so that is where I opted for my X-C Ski Spot Shot. 
pillowy shadowy 
As the morning minutes went on, the shadows got longer.  The tracks were slicker on the Lower Telemark and that made for fun & fast.  I realized I probably did not need that glide on my tips & tails.  I completed the full stretch of the Lower Telemark and popped back out up on The Great Divide.  
The groomers had completed some work but other work was still in progress.  As late morning approached many folks were enjoying a little Great D.  It was nice to see you D.W. and I hope you get to put loads of kilometres on your new X-C Skis.  I look forward to sharing trail time with you once hiking season is back into full swing.  

 shadows are for sure 
no matter how big or how small 
in and around and up and down the Lake Louise area
In the few years that I have been X-C Skiing, this year has been the most enjoyable.  The trail conditions have been the best since I started this sport.  Like anything, practice makes perfect.  While I have not made perfect, I sure have made progress.   I will continue to hope for more snow and more cold so I can cover more kilometers.  I am still in winter mind & mode and not ready to make nice with my hiking boots or hiking trails quite yet.  I may need to pair up with my snowshoe equipment to maintain that winter fix I am still seeking.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Tramline Fairview Moraine chase my heart's desire

Talk about love!  This weekend aligns perfectly to present lots to talk about.  It kicked off with being pay day, Mother Nature gave us snow in the mountains last night and an A1 forecast for three days straight, Monday is a holiday where we celebrate Family Day and Valentine's Day is sandwiched in the middle.  Pay day, snow, holiday and a sandwich, I love them all!  

All through this work week I watched the forecast closely with hopes of the X-C Skiing conditions working their way up to being dubbed ideal.  Each day it was progressing in that direction and then those in the know said go, so I went.  I had my plan in place and set off to execute it.  
I began by the Bow River near the Railway Station Restaurant in Lake Louise Village.  The climb up the Lower Tramline would be gradual but it was the descent that I was truly looking forward.  I applied glide to my skis last night with hopes of quick swooshie downs.

crossing the bridge at the start
No one, not even the groomer, had been before me since the few centimeters of snow fell last night so it was a little more work than normal for skiing uphill.  At the top of the first rise where the view is amazing to the valley, it was already time to delayer.  The clouds were clearing and the sun was shining.
This was my second time ever on this trail and the kilometers seem to fly by.
Before I knew it I was at the road crossing.  
I clipped out of my X-C Skis then traffic stopped to let me cross.  
After crossing from the Lower Tramline to the Upper Tramline, I carried on with working through the new snow in the track.  The tracks were still quite visible. I crossed over Moraine Lake Road and then continued to climb until I reached the Lake Louise parking lot.  
Instead of returning and heading back down, I aimed for the Fairview Trail and once again no one had been yet today, not even the groomer.  I began the climb aiming for one of my favourite places to glide through.  I had to put my herringbone technique to the test first as the meadow section is up higher.  
the section of Fairview that I love
I snowplowed my way down the blue difficult steep sections of Fairview.  No tracks were visible, no one had been and the snow was on the deeper side.  It was lovely just how I like it.  Then I popped out onto the Moraine Lake Road.  I was not the first here, the groomer had just been and his work created conditions which allowed me that swoosh I was after.  It was fast but not furious.
quintessentially quiet & quick
Back at the bottom of Moraine Lake Road, I veered right back onto the Tramline.  Lots of folks have a passion for mountain activity and today I got to share the trail with fat-tire bikers.  They were biking up as I was skiiing down.  No one had skied down yet today, so instead of breaking through the snow, I moved over to the track I made heading up.......
.......and swoosh, in no time flat, I was back down at the bridge in Lake Louise Village.  
After downloading my track, I saw how close I was to the Paradise turn off after popping out onto Moraine Lake Road.  I read where folks have entered into Paradise on their X-C Skis and this may be something I would like to try.  

I had my plan in place and executed it to a T.
This was what I desired for today, so now my heart is content.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

last thoughts yet lasting memories

I watched the sunset one last evening before closing the curtains and adding the final ingredients to my dinner cooking in the oven.  Admiring the sunset then settling down to dine was the normal routine each evening.  
colorful & cheerful inside & out
While the weather for this vacation started off rainy that did not last long, it lasted part of a day but it did not stop me.  As the song goes "it never rains in California but man it pours" and pour it did for a few hours and when that was done and over with it was blue sky & sunshine from there on.   Each day's hike brought me to new trails to explore.  It's pretty pictures like these that will remind me of this beautiful place.
During my two visits to Palm Springs, I got to hike portions of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) four times.  For three of the portions that I hiked, I joined the tracks I recorded on my GPS together to show the stretch of the trail I covered.  The fourth portion is miles from this area.  This is the very teeny weeny stretch I hiked..... the scheme of the even grander route.
You can see the tiny green spot in the middle.
And this map is yet a tiny portion of the full map.
There is something about hiking along the PCT that grabs me. Even when I step from a specific hiking trail onto a trail marked "PCT" with that crest on top of the pole, there is a whole different mind set.  I like what being on the Pacific Crest Trail represents and where it takes me physically yet even moreso mentally.  I would like to cover more of its ground and connect more miles to what I have completed.  

On my last day in Palm Springs before heading to the airport, I walked the Walk of Fame.
I spotted this star's star and began quietly singing her song....... 
....."these boots are made for walking"!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Palm Springs Day 7 Whitewater PCT / Canyon View Loop

I had all intentions of doing a hike just down the road today that would take me up above with views looking down onto Palm Springs. I woke though with the need to go catch a little more "wild" in the desert terrain beyond the city.  I had been to Whitewater Preserve on my first visit here and hiked north.  I loved that area, so this time I would hike south along the Pacific Crest Trail.  I heard the landscape is much different.

After the easy drive there, then speaking with the Ranger and signing in, I next geared up to hit the trail. The Ranger who lives right beside the Ranger Station joined me for the first little while as he walked his dog.  The trail starts at the pond.
                                    We followed the stone lined trail through the wash.  
At the end of the wash and where the trail veers up steep switchbacks, we parted ways. He watched as I headed off along the PCT.  I reached the top of the switchbacks and saw the area where I would be headed.  Yes, the terrain was much different than heading north.  
                          The only wildlife I saw was this roadrunner. 
                        It ran and ran and ran in front of me as I hiked.  
     The trail is well defined and with markers every now and then with the PCT crest on top.  
                               I wondered what was around every corner.  
This area is so green, not desert like at all.  I could see one going on forever here and not getting bored.  At times the trail was very narrow, and on the edge of the slope.  I had to stop lots because I could not safely hike and enjoy the scenery at the same time.
That trail is on the other side of the canyon and that is my destination and turn around point.  I had to hike to the bottom and then back up over on that side.
                  This is my destination spot shot with the canyon behind me.
                                   looks rain forest lush instead of desert dry
When I arrived back at the top of the switchbacks, I did not really feel I had my fill yet so instead of returning the way I came, I opted to make a loop.  I tacked on another few kilometres by completing the Canyon View Loop.  This trail would eventually take me back to the Ranger Station in a round about way.
                        You can see the trail go on and on and on in the center.
                   Switchbacks lead me off the long ridge back down to the wash.  
                             From green to the south to rocky grey to the north.  
                                       I made it back to the Ranger Station.
                                               This is the Ranger's home.      
There is something about being out in this area, I believe it's this kind of place that keeps a piece of my heart.  I can't quite put it into words or explain why that is. Maybe another visit here is what it would take to make this more clear.  Until the next time......