Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wasootch Ridge May 27, 2017

Back in April of last year was the first time I ever ventured up onto Wasootch Ridge.  I truly enjoyed that visit and knew I would definitely hit that high point again.  I went back the following June but had to quickly abort my mission just before the summit when the weather did an abrupt turn-around.  A mental note was made to keep this place in mind for springtime so I have been watching the weather and the snow conditions over the past few weeks waiting for the ideal day to wander that way and that day was today.
It was an outstanding morning weatherwise.  
It was a short sleeve shirt temperature and I could have gone with shorts too.   The hard work starts right at the car and elevation is gained quickly.  I like this hike because within a matter of a very short time the views begin.  That means it is open with no shelter and with the sun shining, it gets hot.  I was thankful to be in the trees today whenever I could be.
pretty wildflowers
Wasootch Ridge offers many opportunities to practice being artistic.   
I'm always trying to see things in a different way.
I look for unique sights too!
framing options are plentiful
After taking some time playing photographer, I was ready to make my way to the summit and that star marks where I need to get to.  In between there and where I am standing are still a few ups and downs to tackle.
I made it!
I could see forever from up here.  I checked out the Barrier Lake area and the Lookout area with my zoom lens.  Friends were venturing up there today.  From what I could see, their day would have been just as spectacular as mine.
the valley below
After taking care of capturing my summit shots, I headed back down to a lower spot to settle down and dine.  I felt like I was perched on top of the world with the view in front of me.   I enjoyed my citrus juice, turkey with cranberry mayonnaise sandwich plus chickpea & chicken salad.  This was a wonderful spot to just hang out and that I did.
Time passed and I thought I should get going with my day.  I had those downs and ups to tackle again.  The ups were a challenge now in the heat of the day but I just dealt with them as they presented themselves.  A last grand view was over towards Nakiska ski hill.  Those upper reaches will open for hiking next month once the closures are lifted.
This area of Kananaskis is pretty much just out my back door.  I am there before you know it and home before you know it yet in between it feels like I am a world away.  It feels good to be getting good elevation gain hikes under my belt.  While this was a shorter day, I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt the fullfillment I was after.  I am ready now for another big day in all ways, distance, elevation and hours.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Forgetmenot Pond & Sunrise Hill May 22, 2017

How fortunate are we to be having such an amazing weather-wise May long weekend.  I was awake before the birds this morning and knew immediately that I wanted to be "out & about".  I had collected some ideas over the past week of places I could venture to today.  With this fabulous forecast I opted to head out past the open gate on Route 66 and check out Forgetmenot Pond's morning reflections and then to scoot up the Powderface Trail to Sunrise Hill.
This gate is open and welcoming all to come visit!
I was the first vehicle in the parking lot at Forgetmenot Pond.  I was surprised because I thought for sure others would be there to capture the morning beauty especially with so many campers close by.  I am not complaining though.  The reflections were perfection to a T.
can this look any prettier than it does at this second in time
After strolling around the full circumference of the the Pond, I had my banana back at the car and then drove over to the pull off to where the trail head for Sunrise Hill is.  No one had yet arrived to begin the hike so I made sure to announce regularly that I was on my way up. I forgot it is a grunt right from the start.  But oh boy, when I came out into the open and saw this, I was so pleased this was what I opted for.
at the intersection to head up to Sunrise Hill to the right or Powderface Ridge South to the left
At exactly 9:00am I arrived at the summit of Sunrise Hill (aka Rainy Summit)
You can see Forgetmenot Pond in the centre, it's that tiny little blue spot. I had a morning snack at the summit cairn and just sat and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.  I have been here twice in the past and both times it was so cold and so windy, it was not fit to spend a bit.  I made up for that this morning.
There's Banded Peak!
I meandered along an open slope and scrambled up onto this boulder.  
On my way down I spied Forgetmenot Ridge and tried to get a glimpse of what the conditions are up there.  I would like to make my way up there again.  It has been quite some time since I paid that Ridge a visit.
Today had another purpose and that was to break in my new Styngers.  I didn't want to chance it on a long hike.  Today's terrain, distance and elevation gain were ideal to test them out.  As I expected, they are absolutely fine.  I am looking forward to collecting many memories with them.

As I descended through the trees many people were heading up.  I was thinking that summit is going to be crowded today.  When I arrived at my car and began to gear down, folks were waiting for my parking spot.  Oih, busy busy!  I am thankful to be an early riser.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Aylmer Lookout May 20, 2017

Today was much bigger than I expected it would be!  Distance was bigger, elevation gain was bigger sunny weather was bigger, temperature was bigger, even the love was bigger. The hike up to Aylmer Lookout from Lake Minniwanka in Banff National Park is known for being open for smooth sailing business earlier in the season.  Today had two major purposes for me.  Number 1 - I was keen to end this day feeling pleasantly depleted.  Number 2 - It was time for me to pay it forward.  A few years back Adventure Designer and Agent-X took me under their way.  I am thankful for what they did for me then and the guidance they still pass on to this day.  They showed me the way and I learned and grew and flourished.  It is now my turn to pay that forward and today I donated.
On this May long weekend I knew the National Park would be busy so we went for the early start.   My sense is as the summer weekends approach, the early start will need to be earlier.  We geared up and got on our way from the Lake Minniwanka parking lot.  The view was pretty nice right at the get go.
entering the canyon
Stewart Canyon Walls
The first eight kilometers are easily accomplished as there is no great elevation gain, just many minor ups and downs.  Most of the trail is open to views of the lake.  I knew we were in for a nice day weather-wise and I was surprised how warm it got even though it was still a morning in the mountains.
at the junction and where the steady steep climb begins
We were slower yet persistent in gaining the elevation through the forest.  When we popped out into the open I felt a burst of energy and was happy to finally arrive where the views go on forever.
my Aylmer Lookout summit shot
The weather and scenery were glorious up here.  I spent more time admiring the views than I did being settled down and dining.  I fueled up enough and then took some time to let the child within come out to play.  A few of my friends found ticks working their way over their gear so we hung our packs on one of those scraggly ugly beautiful trees.
When all was said and done on the summit, we began the descent back down to Lake Minniwanka.  As we were descending many hikers were making their ascent.  I am glad we went for the early start and did have 100% ownership of the summit for the majority of our time there.

We passed through the campground and walked to the edge of the water. 
It was a refreshing place to hang out for a few minutes on such a hot day.   
at Lake Minniwanka
We had just over eight kilometers to hike back from here. We made it our business to just tackle it and get it behind us.  By the time we arrived back at the touristy section near the lake, it was packed with people plus a herd of mountain sheep.
After completing just over 25 kilometers I was able to smile and be happy again when we arrived back at the car.  I wanted those boots and socks off my feet and that bar-b-que beef wrap in my stomach.  Then it felt so nice to sit down in the car on the soft seat and lean back.  I feel so pleased with how today turned out.  There was much to be thankful for so  "Thank You Very Much"  for this day!

Note:  I read on a number of sites and in a guide book when I was doing my homework to prepare for this day where the elevation gain was posted as being approximately 570 meters.  I completed this event a number of years ago as a bike & hike and was quite sure it was much more.  The 570 meters is the distance from the low point to the high point and does not take into consideration all the ups and downs which makes the total cumulative elevation gain much higher. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Grass Pass & Bull Creek Hills & Boundary Pine Loop May 13, 2017

As my week was aiming in the direction of being somewhat settled, I had the extra energy to put together a shout out and was happy two friends were keen to lean into the day with me.  I really wanted a day where we could accomplish what we set out to do with no distractions of any kind.  The outcome was that nothing got in our way of reaching the true Bull Creek Hills summit, visiting the Boundary Pine tree and having a clear way from there down the east slope to the road.  
Having already had success with my yearly crocus hunt, the thought of seeing any was furthest from my mind.  I was more keen on focusing on the rocks and trees in this area along with the views.  I have never in my life seen such a crocus bouquet.  They were in abundance and prime from the beginning of our day right through to the end.
We reached Grass Pass in no time and then continued on with our ascent on the Hills. 
The views were outstanding and we took time to acknowledge them.
We worked our way up and down the Hills and finally reached the true summit.
our summit shot
The wind was brisk and bitter at times,  so we descended down slope a tad to find a sheltered spot with the sun on our back and the view to our front.  In conversation we expressed our appreciation of being able to be out in these places and just be.
After lunch we took a little time to capture some shots.  The geology up in these hills is captivating.   It is colourful, it is varied and it is most of all an inviting place to play.  Play we did!  Scramble here, ramble there.  
At the end of play time in the rock garden we basked in our glory and the sun. 
cloud coverage as we worked our way back over the Hills
 some snow in scattered spots
vast view
After the crocus section and the rock areas, it was time for the trees.  We arrived at the Boundary Pine and stuck around it for a little while.  It was time to refuel again and snap more shots.  This tree and the view from it is pretty any which way you look at it.  The lighting was better in this direction today.
we continue to lean into our day
We thoroughly enjoyed this east slope.  
I was not in any rush to get on with our day and I sensed my friends were not either.  
We were appreciating everything about this day and we were just being.
We continued on down the slope....
 ......and down some more.....
 ....and down the rest of the way....
We followed the trail down and out to the road.  I was somewhat surprised at what time we reached the road considering our distance was not grand and our elevation gain was moderate.  What added up was the time we took to "remember to breathe".  I breathed loads today and by the time we reached the car I felt so fulfilled!  

Thank you for today!