Monday, December 31, 2018


As the last day of 2018 dawns it's time to bid adieu by reporting and reflecting.  Something I realized is that I will always be a numbers girl.  Even though I said good-bye mid year to reporting on oil barrels, AECO prices, royalty $, abandonment liabilities etc, I cannot let go of tracking the kilometres I covered vertically and horizontally while "out & about" wearing hiking boots or snowshoes. There is still that kind of business that goes hand and hand with that kind of pleasure.      


This is that business for 2018!

I am only competitive within myself.  I had lots of opportunities over the past couple of weeks to be "out & about" but I leaned to be lazy instead.  Therefore, 2018 is not a banner year for ground covered.  As you can see I came close, oh so close.  In 2019 with time as my oyster, I am already curious of the possibilities.


At times I wondered do I enjoy taking photographs more or being active more.  I do know I cannot have the activity without the photography but I can have the photography without the activity.  I picked out a few of my favourite photos for 2018.  These certainly depicted how fortunate I was to go where I did and see what I saw.  I have lots to learn on the photography front and I look forward to growing in that aspect. 

I leave you with a few final thoughts!  Thank you for being "out & about" with me.  Thank you for the support, at times hands on, in getting me through those tough sections along the way.  Thank you for being silly with me and sharing in loads of laughs.  Thank you for being there with me to embrace magnificent moments in our mountains.  I truly have so much to be thankful for!


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Nose Hill Environmental Park December 30, 2018

After turning on the Christmas tree lights this morning then opening the curtains with a plan of stretching out on my sofa to watch the news for a change, I turned the lights off just as quick, ran up stairs to get into an attire suitable for traipsing around Nose Hill in a wicked wind chill.  You see, the sky was lighting up incredibly and I needed to be out there, right now.  It is good I am just a hop skip and a jump to the trail head.  No one had been yet since last night's snowfall.  
 What I find is, the colder it is, the prettier it is!
 It was lip freezing, cheek numbing cold!
Yet I loved it!
 I am in my element when I am prepared for the elements!
There is a smile beneath that facade!
It was very uncomfortable going into the wind so I found a map to figure out exactly where I was and what would be the shortest route back to the trail head.  I made a beeline there via valley routes.  With pink cheeks, feeling full of fresh air and invigorated, I made my way home to get back to turning on the Christmas tree lights and watching the news for a change.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Sulphur Mountain December 26, 2018

My motivation for gain has been lackluster since I got home from the desert a couple of weeks ago.  A swift kick to the rear was what I needed to get me out & about but it was no where to be found.  It was time to dig deep, offer up some self talk, get out there and just begin somewhere and somehow to get my rocky mountain legs back.  Elevation gain takes work and it was time to get back to work!    
Last night I layed out my warm attire, prepared a lunch, put gear by my front door and made a decision that I would go back to Banff and hike the switchbacks up Sulphur Mountain underneath the gondola and then take the gondola down for free after a summit visit.  When I woke this morning the weather in Calgary looked bleak and the road condtions report said they were not user friendly.  I began waffling on whether to even go.  I decided there would be no deja-vu and I was just going for it.  Last year I missed out on many opportunities to enjoy mountain experiences because I was nervous about driving the highway in winter conditions.   Once out of the city I was reassured I made the right decision to at least try.

I arrived in Banff and it was beautiful!
 The trail was hard packed the whole way.
 It snowed over night leaving a dusting of white gold on the trees.
I opted to opt out of snapping lots of photos in favour of getting lost in the beauty and in my thoughts and just make my way up along the switchbacks.  Every now and then I passed under the gondola route.  If these are first timers riding to the top, they are in for a dreamy delight.
I arrived at the top, removed my microspikes, put on two more layers of warmth then headed straight up to the observation deck, secured a seat by the fire and poured myself a spot of lemon tea.  While there were loads and loads of visitors they were staying inside or just popping their heads out long enough to snap a shot or two.
 After lunch I admired the Christmas decorations inside.
I jumped into the gondola and enjoyed the free ride down.  
I was pleased with how today turned out and happy that I went for it.
It feels good to get that rocky mountain elevation gain back!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Minniwanka & Vermilion Lakes Banff December 23, 2018

I went to bed last night feeling a strong desire to be hugged by wintry rocky mountain scenery.  I like wandering along the shore of Lake Minniwanka in Banff National Park at this time of year so I picked that as my destination to bring my desire to fruition.          
With sunrise being so late right now, I did not have to leave the city early to catch it.  But, I did anyway!  I arrived at the Lake Minniwanka parking lot to see no other vehicles.  It was bitterly cold, and the sun had not come up yet.  I layered up and aimed for the shore.  It was incredibly peaceful and oh so beautiful.  The only sound I heard was the ice movement and water gurgling.  The lake was not fully frozen and not safe to venture onto.  Conditions were perfect for the symphony.  I threw a rock and it slide far across the smooth ice putting on quite a performance.   Have you heard that kind of music before?  It is amazing to hear! 
 The views offered an odd coloring which I did not know how to capture but I tried my best.     
 in the still of the morning
There was still no one to be seen.  I stayed well aware of my surroundings and made noise.  I did not have my bear spray with me.  There were areas where I could get safely down to the edge of the lake.    Maybe in a couple of weeks this area will be more winter-like.  The sky was beginning to get bright and created a beautiful glow.
glowing and reflecting

 golden moments
With the sun up and a blue sky with some of those puffy pretty clouds, the scenery looked different. By now I could see a few other people beginning to meander along the lake shore.  No where along the  whole length that I strolled was the lake safe to go on.
I should have brought some Christmas decorations to dress up this tree!
Now almost back at the beginning I was seeing things I did not see earlier before the sun came up.  
It was time to depart Lake Minniwanka and drive over to Vermilion Lakes to see what they were offering today.  I have seen this Lake under many conditions but never have I seen it looking this pretty.  Back in November I saw people skating on the lake.  Today, no way!  This was not the wintry scene I was expecting here.  
 open water
 This view boggled my mind!  
After all the time spent at Lake Minniwanka and Vermilion Lakes,  I feel so loved.
I received so much more hugging than I anticipated I would.   

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Chandler Arizona Snowbird Test - Pyramid & National & Lost Mines LoopSouth Mountain Park, Dec 15, 2018

There are so many options on where to hike in this part of Arizona, all offering amazing experiences.  I could not resist going back to South Mountain Park.  It's in my neck of the woods and when I come back I will probably not be staying in this community.  Once again today I had a 20 minute drive to where adventure begins.  I had a plan to hike the Pyramid Trail, connect to The National, find a way off The National mid way, connect with Bursera, connect with Pyramid thus completing a big fat loop. 
I got to the parking lot early to see it was already half full.  I read where it can fill early on the weekend.  Yet where was everyone!  I thought I got an early start.  I went on my merry way,  paying attention to where I was going, there are many unmarked trails that veer off.  


Once the sun came up the clouds began to dance nicely and created pretty picture opportunities.  I followed the Pyramid Trail which was marked with a "P" every now and then, but it was obvious where I needed to go, I was aiming for a steep set of switchbacks.

The flat section was done and I was ready to ascend.  There were many tall saguaros along the trail like this one.  It was not until I got home that I saw the plane in the top left corner.  
                                 a bud ready to open soon

It was a real slow go of it, not because of the ascending but because the scenery was so captivating.  I was making sure to savour every second.  I could also start to see ridges with trails near the top and I was wondering would I end up there eventually.

                                           barrel cactus lined trail 
I reached the high point along the Pyramid Trail.  It was time for a break and to eat a banana but not before capturing a shot. It was still early and a bit on the cool side which I was thankful for.
I wondered would I be on that trail over there.  While wondering I watched those clouds form.  When I rounded the corner I could then see where I would be going for The National and it was not those Trails I had been seeing.

                             The flower is pointing to The National.   
                                I was glad to see a trail marker with a big "N".  
It was like a whole different world over here.  I could see Phoenix way down below.  It was crazy windy on this side. 
I scrambled up to a big rocky knob and that put me on the high point of The National.  I prayed my tripod would stay upright, plus I tried to myself, the wind was fierce.  From up here everything was put into perspective.  I could see where I had started my day, where I had been and where I needed to go.  The only thing there were no trail markers of any kind but I was quite sure the trail I saw was the one I needed to take to be able to do the loop I wanted.  
I need to get to those trails down there.  When I was researching the area, I did see a map that showed a trail called The Eliminator that veered off The National mid way.  Also, there was one called the Lost Mines.  Just because of the name I did not want to attack The Eliminator.                                 
The trail to the right looked gentler and I could see an extensive part of it.  As I descended I could then see the lost mine and also caves.  It was a rough trail, steep in parts, narrow at times and winding along drop offs.  It was doable and I was OK with it.

I made it down, found my way to the wash, got through that and up and out the other side.  I looked back and I could see a good section of The National up above.
The trail took me back to the Pyramid Trail. I could see the switchbacks on the right side of the saguaro that took me to the top of the Pyramid earlier this morning.
                               back on the trail to the parking lot

I arrived back at the trail head in the mid day heat feeling pleased and content.  The only thing left to do is drive the 20 minutes to home, crack open a beer and laze about on my patio celebrating today's accomplishment!