Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hunchback Hills for Halloween October 28, 2017

Give me a reason to celebrate and I will be there!   I hoped others would be too if I threw out the idea of acknowledging Halloween.  More than just your every Saturday hike was needed.  I picked Hunchback Hills as the destination, it was either that or Hell's Ridge, and only because the names sound Halloweenish.  Pack a costume was part of the package deal as was toting along treats to share.     Friends were keen to join in on this spirited celebration.  Unexpectedly Mother Nature made her appearance and added an erie sky to our mix.
It was an after sunrise start at the trail head where the sky had an appearance of possibly offering up something to the ambiance of our day.  We had an easy start of it with six klicks along a trail that ascended very gradually.  The views were at the start and that was it for some time.
We reached our turn off point where there is no indication to do so but we had insider information telling us where to hang a left.  We spent the next hour or so bushwhackingly finding our way up a steep slope.  The light cast shadows of all sorts.  Who knows what lurks in the woods!
We found our way to the top coming out at the base and edge of the ridge.
We were presented with our first views.
Further up Hunchback Hill towards the summit Barrier Lake & Lookout came into view.
 Then we spied the summit cairn tucked between the trees.
The clouds looked explosive and lining all features at the right angle a great photo op happened.  We were experiencing fabulous weather for the 28th of October in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. That on its own is a reason to be "out & about" and celebrating.
Before doing anything else, I captured my devilish summit shot.
We nestled in by the tree to dine.  After our main courses, it was time for treats, and as you can see we had all sorts.  It was an enjoyable part of our day sharing the treats and tasting new foods.   
We donned the rest of our costumes and took over the summit with our photo tricks.

The wind whipped wildly as we neared the end of our summit celebration.  It was time to pack up and be on our way, along the Hill, down the ridge, by the trees, into the forest.  Along the open part I kept looking back like I always do and admired the cloud coverage.
 looking explosive again
 I love what the wind creates.
This was our last big view on this side before heading into the forest for a steep, route finding, bushwhacking task.  We had no snow at all, the ground was very dry, it was colorful in spots and the shadows just added to the pretty scene.
We all safely made it back down and back out.  With about four kilometres left along the easy trail we made good time of it and reached the open area again just before dipping down to the trail head.
When getting close to the trail head it means very soon we will be heading home which happens every Saturday but it has been ages since I did my kind of heading home.   I hear what you say and sometimes I wonder what you are thinking.   
I thoroughly enjoyed this Halloween Celebration.  I am glad I have friends who are into this type of day just as much as I am.  With all that is happening in our world in every day life, it's nice to take time to escape and celebrate even the littlest of things.  Thank you for today!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Badlands October 21, 2017

Waiting for the sun to rise at Lake Louise last Saturday was so enjoyable that I wanted a repeat of some sort for this Saturday.   It was my daily focus all week outside of the usual life happenings.  When the idea of hitting Drumheller in The Badlands came to me, I weather-watched and waited for the day.  While waiting for the day a more detailed plan evolved to include hiking in Horsethief Canyon which I have never done before.  This then would just be another addition to this year's theme of venturing to new places to me.  All necessary conditions were ideally forecast so at an ungodly hour of the morning I began to execute the plan.  
My eyes were peeled as I drove those back-prairie roads in pitch dark watching for wildlife that may spring out at me.  But what to my wondering eyes did appear?  Something shot across my windshield startling me, it was gone before I could even comprehend that it must have been a shooting star.  A little while later there was another one and then late yet another one.  I pulled off in a pull-out turned off the car lights and just sat and gazed.  A few more shot across.  I totally forgot all about seeing all that until I saw an article in the news when I got home and googled more about it.  This is what I witnessed, the Orionid Meteor Shower!

A little bit later than planned I arrived in East Coulee at The Hoodoos.  
The sun was coming up over the badlands landscape casting a beautiful color onto the formations. 
background backlight
full sunrise
On the way to The Hoodoos I drove past the road to the Suspension Bridge so after taking care of the sunrise business at The Hoodoos I dropped in to check out the view from the Bridge.  The early morning was still enough to offer up this pretty reflection in the Red Deer River.
It was a quick and easy drive to Horsethief Canyon.  
It was early enough that the first morning light was still obvious.  
I took a few minutes to look over the lay of the land from the overlook.
Then it was time to head on down into the Canyon.  I made sure to keep looking back to where I came from.  One could get disoriented down in here.  I went most of the way down but not to the floor.  I need to go back but not alone the next time and take more time to explore throughout the bottom and over to the Red Deer River.
I spied this point off in the distance and aimed for it.
There is a way up everything.
some of the views
It was time to head back on up to the top of the Canyon.  That took a little while as I kept getting distracted by the amazing scenery.  When I made it to the rim, I took a look back to where I ventured.  There is so much territory to trek through and I only covered a portion.
It was time to dine but before doing that, I visited The Little Church.
My sins are only little so I just needed a small church and a minute.
my snack spot with a view
While at Horsethief Canyon I saw another road across the way above the Red Deer River that looked like it might be worth having a look along.  It was the South Badlands Trail which I followed for numerous kilometers.  I could look across to Horsethief Canyon and down to the winding Red Deer River from Orkney Viewpoint.
I had no intentions of visiting Horseshoe Canyon on this trip but hey what the heck why not.  It was on my way home but just outside and above Drumheller.  The new stairs to the bottom were closed and under construction.  I worked my way down on a trail off in the opposite direction.  That trail down landed me here.
I meandered along.....
....then up and down and up again to where I captured these spectacular views.
On my way back to head up out of Horseshoe Canyon, I eyed this formation then realized I could get a summit shot up on that.  Yes there is a way up everything and I found my way up to that white top.
an on the top shot
It was so beautiful up on that spot that I spent some time just relaxing and admiring what was around me.  I didn't want to leave but I was feeling tired and I still had to drive home probably in loads of traffic.   I finally reached the top of the Canyon and looked down to where I was.  My shadow followed me all day.

This was an incredible day filled with much more than I had in my plan to attack.  It's good just to go with the flow and at times unexpectedly you end up in the right place at the right time. Every second of this day was the right second in the right place.  

Saturday, October 14, 2017

West for Winter October 14, 2017

I declare "I am ready for winter" so I went west today looking for it.  I kicked off summer with heading to Iceland, a place I had never been and it was such a successful solo trip.  I had a wonderful summer of venturing to new heights at places that I have never been.  I shared trails with many old & new friends, more so than ever before.  I found a new love in kayaking a sport I tried for the first time in September.   I enjoyed three large larch hikes the most I have ever experienced in a row.  

Now I want winter!  
Do you?
At 2:30 am Saturday morning I realized I needed to save my Saturday.  All original plans finally fully fell by the way side and I was on my own.  I knew I wanted winter and I chased it down.  I landed at the Lake Louise parking lot in darkness along side only five other vehicles.   I geared up and joined the others.  We waited, then waited a little more.

then Lake Louise began to wipe the sleep from her eyes
then she stretched
then she came alive
and showed off her winter white
then added a touch of color to her day
While the others packed up and headed on their way elsewhere, I strolled along the lake shore.  
The scenery was incredible.  
My pace was a photographer's one.  
I was alone and thoroughly enjoyed the peace the quiet the scenery.
nearing the far end of Lake Louise
I knew I could go deeper into winter following the trail.  

a golden moment in my day
At the far end of the lake I noticed other fresh tracks in the snow that were heading the same way I was.  They came down off the slope onto the trail.  They did not belong to a bear but they were a significant size to not belong to a bunny, nor a weasel, nor a coyote.  Then I noticed there were two sets one bigger one smaller.  Then I did an about face and aimed back along the lake.
I arrived back to the parking lot in time for some lunch.  I savoured that then headed out again along the Fairview Trail and the Tramline to check out when the X-C Ski season may start.  Soon my friends, soon!
Before leaving The Village, I went for a stroll along the Bow River Trail.  
I thought about being up on Fairview (on the right) with my southern friends this summer.
I said good bye to Lake Louise and hit the highway east then south.  I drove into Kootenay National Park in British Columbia with intentions of going deeper south.  The weather here was not what I was expecting and the road conditions rattled me a bit.  I turned around and stopped in at The Continental Divide for a safe photo opportunity, the one and only from B.C. today.
Next it was on to Banff where I spent the next hour walking along the Bow River here and admiring the beauty and watching the runners race on the icy pathway.  The trees still had color and it felt autumn-like here.
I roamed around the Bow Falls area.  I watched a wedding from a vantage point on the other side of the river and after that walked along the paved golf course pathway.  The weather was incredible and the scenery too.
Once I invested time in touring Banff it was onto the 1 then onto the 1A.  I stopped off to capture the scary looking cloud, admired Yamnuska, and continued along the winding old highway.
 from scary cloud to friendly cloud
Nearing dinner time I was getting close to Ghost Lake.  I pulled in nd envisioned kayaking here next summer on a calm day.  It was wild and windy here right now.  I thought about waiting here for the sun to set but I was ready to settle too, settle onto my sofa with my blanket and drifting off to dreams of winter to come.
While it's still autumn in the city it is winter in the mountains.  
I know what I am ready for and what I want and it's time to chase after it.