Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gibbon Pass Peak September 30, 2017

All that was necessary to experience another fabulous day in our mountain playground came together so easily & nicely and played out that way through our entire day exploring the way to Gibbon Pass "Peak"!  What I know for sure is that the larch trees were at their absolute peak for every second of the day that we were hugged by them.  I don't know about yesterday or if they will be prime tomorrow but being lost in the beautiful larches today was all that mattered!

NOTE:  You may want to settle in and get cozy for our story.  

We arrived bright and early at the trail head happy to see the gate open this time so we could just drive right on it.  My choice was to start at the Castle Junction trail head and do the hike via the Twin Lakes Trail to Lower Twin Lake.  I wanted the best chance possible to accomplish reaching that "Peak" this time.  This way would be a cumulative elevation gain of close to 1300 instead of 1700 from the other trail head.
 It is somewhat of a trudge from the trail head up to Lower Twin Lake.  
We got that done and out of the way as quickly as we safely could.  
We took a little time at The Lake.  
 The trail sign for Gibbon Pass at Lower Twin Lake.
We began the next climbing section anxious and excited at the same time to see what the larch trees would be like at The Pass.  On the last section of the trail up, the trees began to appear.  The trail was lined with them and I felt like I was being hugged by them.  They were gorgeous!  We came out into the open and I was in awe.  I looked up to see The Peak we would be ascending to.
something brewing off in the distance
We invested some time here at official Gibbon Pass as we would not be returning to this section on the way back.  It was cold, it was windy, there were flurries in the air here and there.  We gobbled down some energy then went on our way to use it up. 
passing through the meadow towards the up trail
following the early part of the trail up to The Peak
further up
We arrived on the ridge in no time and then eyed our destination.  
It would be that top point in the center of the photo.  
My Gibbon Pass "Peak" summit shot!
The consensus was it was fine enough to dine at the top.  We had a splendid view in front of us from Shadow Lake to Lower Twin Lake and everything in between.  We owned this whole Pass & Peak for about 99.9% of our visit.  As we began to pack up, a threesome arrived.
view of Shadow Lake below 
I wanted to hike the entire stretch of the Ridge.
 view from the ridge
 view from the ridge and seeing our summit spot to the right
 along the ridge
one long last look
We made our way through the larches as we descended opting for some final hugs.  As you can see the ground cover was so pretty against the golden larches.  We popped out right onto the trail, completed a loop and now it was time to return the way we came.
I was feeling a bit of sensory overload.  
Such a feast for the eyes!
We fueled up at Lower Twin Lake and then began the long trek back through the forest to the trail head.  I always have a hard time with this portion of hikes.  I never want to leave and I continue to look back.  I took another one last look back before entering the forest.
 aiming for the forest
Those eight kilometres descending through the forest seemed to go on for longer than eight kilometers.  I just reminded myself this option of all down hill at the end sure beats lots more up at the end along the other route.  We were very quiet and I just wanted it over with and I knew the others did too.  We crossed the last bridge turned the corner and there was the parking lot.  The very last view of our day was this of Castle Mountain.  We began on a high note, we ended on a high note and there were so many amazing notes throughout our entire day!

I was so glad we stuck with the plan considering what the forecast was for our day.  That snow and rain did not happen.  This was a day to cherish.  Everyone showed their expertise at embracing.  I believe the larches were at their absolute prime today and will be on their way to bed for the year any minute now.  Thank you for the most amazing experience in our mountain playground!

Note to self and you:  Arriving back at carpool in the city in pitch dark, we encountered an awkward few moments in the parking lot.  I made sure the doors were locked and we stayed in the vehicle while he watched us and we watched him.  I am not sure what he was up to.  There were only our other two parked cars in the lot along with one other.  He leered again as did we right back and then he began to run away.  I turned my vehicle to face my friends' cars and shone my lights bright while they safely got into their cars and drove off.   

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Panorama Ridge & Meadows September 23, 2017

I was in a quandary as larch season was approaching.  I wondered would I have missed it while I was living the east coast lifestyle at sea level for a little while.  If that was not the case and the colors were approaching prime, then where would I go to avoid the terrible traffic, the parking problems and the loads of larch lovers.  I pondered, did a little homework, questioned, did a little more research, debated, checked out my resources then and only then did a plan fall into place.  Whew!  This was not easy!  I laid the plan on the line to hike up to Taylor Lake, then on to Panorama Meadows, then up to Panorama Ridge, then across some of the Ridge, then down the steep slope to the valley meadow, then hike through the meadow, then make our way back down to Taylor Lake then back to the parking lot.  Seven others quickly opted to take me up on this adventure.  We all knew this day would be all about the trees, those larch trees, the golden colors.
I had concerns that the Taylor Lake Parking Lot could be very busy due to Parks People advertising this location would be a great trail to view the larch show but we arrived early enough to a somewhat empty lot.  The view already was grand as we geared up.
I dislike the long boring approach trail to Taylor Lake.  We just got on that trail and got that job done of getting up to the Lake.  We took a little time to capture some pretty pictures and savour some snacks.  
We left the Lake and found our way up to Panorama Meadows.  
view of Castle Mountain blowing her stack
We scrabbled our way up to Panorama Ridge to where the wide open spaces were not visible.  
That is the Bow Valley Corridor down below.  
You can see the Highway down there.
This was our lunch spot and after lunch we captured some fun shots.
summit shot & seeming so insignificant in the scheme of the scene
We made our way along Panorama Ridge all the while looking below to where we needed to get to.   I warned my friends it would be a steep descent and that we wanted to end up at that tarn down below.
Look closely and you can see my friends finding their way down.  We used whatever method worked for us individually and we all arrived at the valley bottom in tack.  That steep slope was sketchy and slippery, the snow made the task not so simple.  
We made our way to the first tarn which was partially frozen.
You can see the slope to the right which we descended.
With the tough part over, we relaxed and snacked.  We meandered along Panorama Meadows embracing the larch trees.  They were pretty much prime with some still shades of green and almost gold.  Another few days or week and the showing will be fully prime time.
prop play
limbo rock
how low can she go
The East meets the West!
The second tarn was spectacular.  
It was partially frozen, there was lots of blue in the sky now and the reflections popped.  
It felt a bit warmer and still there was no wind whatsoever.  
Crystal Clear & Picture Perfect
reflections in the tarn
We opted for oodles of time in the meadows by the tarns and in amongst the larch trees.  I looked back to see the Ridge we were on. I felt incredibly lucky for what we were experiencing and seeing.  I took a few minutes just to give a little bit of extra thanks.
The views behind us were amazing and so were the views in front of us.  I was getting dizzy with all the spinning, I didn't know where to look.  The amount of snow on the ground was just the right amount for today.  It paired nicely with the larches.
This was our last view before leaving the meadows and heading back down towards Taylor Lake.
Taylor Lake at days end

How lucky were we with how our day played out!  We were a fun group of friends who milked every second out in our mountain playground.  While lots of the larch trees were gold there were still lots that were green and various shades in between green and gold.  Could we be so lucky again in a week's time?  The forecast looks lovely!  Stay tuned!

for today though