Saturday, November 25, 2017

Moose Mountain November 25, 2017

It takes extra effort these days to come up with a Saturday safe place to play.  We have a limited number of day light hours to contend with, road conditions need to be monitored as do avalanche ratings, plus what is Mother Nature going to throw our way.   An invite came my way to venture up to Moose Mountain and the thought of being on that terrain in wintery conditions excited me.  I had been there many moons ago on a November day and a photo from that trip still remains as my iMac screen saver.  
We met up then drove up that steep slippery winding long narrow road and I was happy to see we were first in the parking lot.  We donned our clothing attire and opted to leave the snowshoes behind and go spiking all day.  We made a quick job of getting the first tree section over with and got our first glimpse of the glowing Moose Mountain range.
The trail consisted of firmly packed little drifts.
We took a few minutes at the grand opening to eye our destination.  
At this point I tried my new tripod for the first time and I think I like it.  
our only wildlife sighting of the day
Reaching the wide open spaces of course we now felt the wild wind so bundled up a little more.  I remembered from being here that November day many moons ago that the wind whipped the snow into interesting shapes and drifts.  I like to play with perspective and this was my first for today.
ripples of snow as we begin our attack
on a mission
This is a zoomed in shot of the Moose Mountain Fire Lookout and we are working our way to it's deck to dine.  A helicopter had just landed for a few minutes and then twirled away but I was not able to capture a photo as my focus became working my way up there.
My original intent was not to share with the public a certain part of my day but I decided by putting it out there it is a way for me to accept it as a reminder, and a way for me to let it go.  I do go back at times and re-read and re-live my play days and this was an important enough part of this day that I choose to document it.  

As we approached the base of the final climb to the summit and I eyed the route, I already began to feel a little uneasy.  At first for a few seconds I was not sure of the direction we would head and then quite quickly it became apparent.  I had mixed emotions, there was loads of self talk going on, but I continued on.  The further I went the more scared I became and when I passed on by the winter route which I was familiar with, I hit my breaking point.  I froze in the spot.  The words spoken very loudly were to no one other than myself.  I was very disappointed that I got myself into a predicament.  I know better but for whatever reason I was given this reminder today that I do know better.  Thank you Short Stop for sticking close to me and talking me back to a place that was within my comfort zone.   I learned those limits and that comfort zone many years ago.   I believe this all stems from the day I slipped in the snow at the top of the descent route off Tent Ridge and slid and rolled out of control.  I will do my best to keep today's reminder fresh.  I feel embarrassed about situations like this and I feel bad for putting my friend in a place where she has to take care of me.  

While in no way at all did I burst onto the summit, I did burst onto the helipad with my friends.
It was cold, it was windy, we were happy to be on the Moose Mountain summit!
My friends went to seek shelter to dine.  Eating was the furthest from my mind.  My stomach couldn't handle food right now.  I needed a few minutes to just be alone and get my mind into another place because I knew I needed to eventually get off this summit.  I already knew in my mind that I would be taking the winter route down but until I began the descent I couldn't think of anything but.
I made my way to the front deck and joined my friends for a few minutes.
This was our view.
The winter route was right in front of me.
I made my way over the brick wall and at that point I was fine.  I could see that it would be safe the entire rest of the way.  I now felt happy, I truly felt like capturing a happier summit shot and oh boy was my stomach now growling.  I was starving.
We played in the wind!
Here is another perspective photo.  
Guess how tall this fir is?
Where does the snow end and the cloud begin?
Before the long last stretch through the forest, we sat off to the side of the trail where I could down some fuel.  Here I savoured my tuna sandwich, chickpea salad and multi grain tortilla chips.  I washed all that down with cranberry tea.  I admired the clouds do their dance as I dined.
I took one last look back at Moose Mountain.  I liked the color of blue sky and how the clouds framed the summit.  The packed trail shone in spots.   A view like this is what brings me to this place at this time of year.  I said goodbye as we turned and went on our way along the trail.  The road to the trail head closes at end of day November 30th.   Until next spring!

We are so fortunate to have such beautiful weather at this time of year.  Well, it is still autumn.  I look forward to finding my way through white gold as December arrives but we will have to wait and see if Mother Nature will be on side with presenting us with opportunities.  My wish is she will be kind!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fox Lake November 18, 2017

There is never any doubt that a snowshoe adventure into Fox Lake in British Columbia will be filled with everything there is to embrace about winter!  It's not for the true novice nor inexperienced route finder.  It's for those that enjoy deep snow trail breaking, are comfortable being back and beyond out there and are able to embrace that pleasantly depleted feeling at the day's end.   I love all that about snowshoeing and especially snowshoeing into Fox Lake!

We had that favourable early start.  
No one was on the trail before us.  
For the first little while we followed the official snowshoe signs.  
We reached the X-C-Ski section which had been groomed last evening yet snow fell since that grooming.  We snowshoed parallel to the track and managed to get that part done with only meeting one skier.  We had a quick stop at the picnic table and then began the task of breaking trail in knee to above knee deep snow through the meadow and forest finding our way to the border where we would cross over from Alberta into British Columbia.
 The trees were tall.
The snow was deep.
That's when the magic happens!
We tried to follow a track we had from before but had to take detours.  Numerous of those large trees had come down since last winter and blocked our way.  We bushwhacked a bit, clambered and climbed over trees and then got back onto a trail that led us to Fox Lake.  We had no blue sky nor sunshine but we did have warm temperatures and no wind.

This is what I like my snowshoe package play time to look like!

Even more importantly I like how my friends play together.
It's time with them that make the total package complete!
After more than an hour embracing Fox Lake in every which way possible, it was time to vacate the place and hit the trail back.  The sun tried to shine and did create some shadows for us and brighten up the area somewhat.  That prolonged our visit another few minutes.
 arriving back into Alberta with a view of The Continental Divide
We opted to include a loop into our day which meant more elevation gain late into the afternoon and I found that tough.  I put my head down and got the job done.  The sky offered up some light blue and some dark blue.  It made the scenery poppingly pretty.
 We savoured one last view off to the glowing mountain before making our way down the last stretch.
 The deep untouched white gold was pure delight!
Instead of taking the snowshoe trail which follows through the forest, we stuck to the wide open space and went for it.  Dusk was descending upon us and we wanted to get back to the vehicles in the light.  We made good time getting to the bottom of this.
The last couple of minutes before reaching the trail head, the wind picked up and it didn't feel like a chinook wind.  It was bitterly cold.  Our timing was spot on as our adventrue ended when we wanted it to.  I am thankful for how our day played out and happy my friends were game to play today.  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Rae Lake Attempt November 11, 2017

I knew all along I would be snowshoeing today, that need was within me.  I was brain storming on options when a friend put a shout out to venture into Rae Lake so I hopped on board!  I have visited that lake a handful of times in various conditions at different times of the year between June and November.  My favourite spot along the way is when we have this view of Tombstone Mountain from this vantage point.  Today the view was incredible with a touch of snow to brighten it up.
"Red sky at morning sailor take warning!"  
That's for sailors not snowshoers!  
As we drove down Highway 40 where life begins, the scenery was captivating.  
We arrived at the trail head parking lot which was empty.  It was calm and not that cold.  We bantered back and forth whether to take snowshoes, microspikes, both.  We opted to carry snowshoes and pull on the spikes.  I just wanted that first hill out of the way, I don't like it.  I enjoyed the views as a distraction while we tackled it.
early morning at Elbow Lake
We rounded Elbow Lake and arrived at the Park Boundary.  We saw loads of fresh animal tracks some looked dog-like others cat-like.  No people today had gone before us.  It was such a pleasure to have outright ownership of this territory.
Here's Tombstone Mountain and the wide open valley for your viewing pleasure.
The new snow yesterday added an added touch.
We carried along the Big Elbow Trail for some time then began to pay attention for the cairn signifying time to turn off and aim for Desolation Flat.  We ended up going a little too far so we backtracked eventually finding a big lump of snow and then discovering the cairn was buried underneath it.  We cleaned it up a bit and take notice of the little yellow piece of tape.
time to change our mode of movement
from microspikes to snowshoes
My second favourite spot on this venture is at the boulder field in Desolation Flat.
my friends passing through The Flat
A couple quickly passed us and then they were gone up the hill and into the trees.  We slowly followed!  We should know better than to do that.  What was that saying?  "Red sky at morning sailor take warning!"  That's not for us snowshoers!  Or is it?  We had a few elevation gains & losses as we followed that couple's track.  The terrain was not user friendly and a little sketchy in sections but we carried on.   My focus was not enjoying the beauty or capturing it but we did have one opening where I did enjoy the distraction.
We realized time was now not in our favour and we would not be reaching Rae Lake.  We aimed for a hill and called that our destination for the day.  I felt a little anxious about not knowing our route back and that it would be route finding and bushwhacking with maybe some steep slopes to go up or down.  I enjoyed the lunch time view but was not up to savouring my sandwich and salad.  
I'll call this my summit shot for today!
We did not linger long for lunch.  We began to work our way back to the main trail having an idea where it was and route finding our way to it.  The views were spectacular and there were huge snow drifts in places.
We finally reached the main trail.  I was standing right on it not realizing for a few seconds.  We gathered together and then got in a mind space to get going and cover loads of terrain before it got dark.  The wind picked up and included gusts which we pushed against.
I captured one last view of the trail in front of us.
When we arrived back at the Park Boundary and there was still a little daylight left I breathed a sigh of relief.  We rounded Elbow Lake and I walked over to the edge to have a look and take a lasting impression.

My lasting impression!
It's November 11th.  I feel fortunate to have friends who enjoy being "out & about" exploring, adventuring and sharing laughs.  We are a supportive crew of characters.  We know how to make the most of our day, how to embrace when things go great and how to work together and get through the oooops.   Today, Remembrance Day, we created many memories we can be thankful for!  Thank you for this day of sharing and Thank You to all those veterans who made sacrifices so we could be out here today living our passion!