Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fortress Mountain March 31, 2018

On the drive out to the Casino to meet up with White Mountain Adventures, I sensed this day snowshoeing up on Fortress Mountain was going to be one of those days, you know, one of those days!  What a gift to have the cold January-like temperatures and the type of February snow both on a spring day when it's time to say good-bye to March.  I hoped for something special but what transpired far exceeded my expectations and I was transported both physically and mentally to "on top of the world"!
This Guiding Company went above and beyond today to take the two of us above and beyond.  Their rule is they need four for this adventure to go ahead.  I tried twice for a February trip with no success.  We were both determined and they decided we can make this happen today for just these two ladies.  For some reason which they don't know why, this particular full day snowshoeing adventure has not proved popular.  If I could round up eight strong snowshoeing friends, they would hold a private adventure for us up on Fortress Mountain. similar to what I experienced today.

view as we geared up 
The only tough decision today was which direction to head.  
Doing a 360, you could not go wrong whether you headed north, south, east or west.  
We aimed for the untouched pure white gold.  
The views were incredible right from the get-go.  Fortress Mountain is known for being the set of three movies;  The Bourne Legacy, Inception and The Revenant.  I am not that much into movies but those of you who are may recognize some of the scenery.

I hope you have settled in and got comfy for this read.  It is a bigger post which is worthy for being such a big day.  Up on Fortress Mountain you will find a wide open gigantic playground.  Being just the three of us and being strong snowshoers and game for adventure, our guide took us further above and beyond.  This place is a snowshoers & photographers dream.  We indulged!
The Fortress was prominent for most of our day.
After ascending through some deep pow, we then veered onto the cat track to take us even higher.
We were the only snowshoers on this mountain today plus there was a group of cat skiers off on the ski slopes.  A couple of fellows who were working with them and monitoring the conditions and keeping track of where people were stopped and chatted with us for a bit.  Thank you for capturing this shot for us.  Our guide wanted to get to Bonsai Lake for our lunch break.  We got directions on the route to take.
We hugged the tree line, leaving the wide open slope pure for the skiers.  
Our guide pointed to Bonsai Lake which is at the very bottom in that wide open space.  
OMG was what I thought!  
We began the gigantic steep descent, assessing the best route as we went.  The Guide went first and waited for us.  He captured a video of us making our descent.  It was so much fun, I was squealing with delight.  I asked for a pinch thinking this was a dream, it felt like it!  But it was as real as it gets! 
We still had more steep descending through the white gold to reach the bottom.
still making our way down
We arrived at Bonsai Lake and set up the picnic table and bench.  This adventure included a decadent lunch.  We had hot chicken vegetable soup, our choice of sandwich (we went for turkey which we got to pick when we signed up for this trek), hot chocolate, cookies, plus apples and energy bars if we wanted them.  Our guide picked up our lunch from a cafe in Banff before leaving to pick us up.  There was some snowmobile activity in the area.  The cat skiers were having their lunch set up at The Bourne.  This collage shows the snowmobiler, us toasting to our day, the lunch time view, the lone bonsai tree which is perched on a gigantic boulder, and you can see our picnic spot through the boulders.  
After investing time savouring the scenery and our lunch, we then packed up and had to make another tough decision.  Which direction should we go.  Once again, you could not go wrong whether you aimed north, south, east or west.  We aimed in the direction that would create a loop.  This meant breaking trail in deep pow again. 
a tree along the way
It was time to climb gradually back up and now we went back onto the cat track. Our guide told us if the cat happens to come along, we need to get right off the track because that thing is wide. We carried on and went up around the corner and then.....
.....there comes the cat.....
The out of this world views were relentless.  I am glad they were, they gave me reason to stop to capture the prettiness.  I was feeling tired climbing too.  This must have been a delight for the snowmobiler.
A view of the tracks made by the cat skiers.
We arrived back to an area that looked familiar which meant our adventure was coming to an end.  We crossed our track from the morning completing a big loop.  
Instead of following our old track the rest of the way back, we ventured off to enjoy some more of that sweet snow that Fortress Mountain has to offer.  Our guide made sure that every second of our time up here was the best it could be.
I did not want this day to end.  
We settled in the snow to prolong the end even if just for a few minutes.    

A big shout out to our Guide and to White Mountain Adventures for creating such an amazing play date up on Fortress Mountain.  If you got caught up with this ride and read to the end then you now know too that this was one of those days, you know, one of those days that ends up leaving you breathless and lost for words!  THANK YOU FOR TODAY! 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Rummel Ridge March 24, 2018

Today was the day to get the job done!  Back in February 2011, I was invited to share in working with a team of friends to get to the summit of Rummel Ridge.  That was back when Rummel Ridge was not sexy like it is now.  There was not much info on a trail, nor of snowshoers summiting, nor of possibly there being a broken trail.  Fast forward to 2018, it was like deja-vu, I was invited to share in working with a team of friends to get to the summit of Rummel Ridge.  While some of them have been since 2011, others have never, I wanted to take care of unfinished business.  There was a very high probability for success today with loads of trail information plus insider information of there being a trail broken recently.

We arrived to a pretty view at the roadside parking spot.  The forecast said snow for later so I made sure to capture pictures where we could actually see the surroundings.  We saw right away where the trail was and yes it was broken, thank you very much.
The climb starts pretty much right from the get-go so the views come into play quickly.  
We intersected the new High Rockies Trail and followed it for a short section.  There were a few broken trails here and there to which we did not necessarily follow. We took a trail that was the safest and worked best for us. We then took turns breaking trail while route finding to get us to where we needed to be.  The sun was out the shadows shone.
We popped out into a first big opening and this was as far as I made it back in 2011.
flash back to 2011
Today I made it to the summit of Rummel Ridge.  We commented earlier that what we did not want was to have a white-out when we reached the summit.  Well, that was pretty much what was tossed at us.  It was hard to tell where the end of the ridge was so we stuck to a very small section.
Here we are at the summit of Rummel Ridge!
I did not instigate this!
After a short visit to celebrate our success we ventured back down to a somewhat flat somewhat protected area to dine.  It continued to snow the entire time and at times heavy.  I did read a  report there would be an "intense pulse of snow" so we just bundled up even more when it hit.  After lunch I took a look back up to where the summit was.
It was time to get on our merry way and to make our own way through the deep soft snow over steep slopes through the trees.  Thank you to the strong trail breakers and route finders for getting us through our descent.  It was the best snow ever that we had today.   It was loads of fun to run through it and to slide down it.

I was so depleted, but pleasantly so, by the time we arrived back at our vehicles.  The consensus was dinner and a drink in Canmore would be the perfect topping to our day.  It was just like old times for me when that was always a part of sharing our day.  Thank you for making it possible for me to take care of unfinished business. The question now is "how long will the springtime snow be enjoyable for snowshoeing?"

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Weaselhead Park March 11, 2018

It was just another Sunday yet an old kind of Sunday in a new kind of Sunday way!  You see back in the day when I was a long distance runner the Weaselhead area use to be my stomping grounds or I should say my running grounds on some Sundays.  Today we spent three hours enjoying the Weaselhead Natural Environment Park at a hikers' pace, so the scenery did not fly by quickly, not that I was a quick runner.    
I managed to capture a few of us in a shadow shot.  
 I am not that into birds so I do not know what this is.  
 This Park has quite the trail system.  
I was told loads of work was carried out here last summer.  
There are signs at all intersections, good thing.
There was not much straight and flat hiking, we incorporated lots of ups and downs.  We covered just short of ten kilometres which is just a drop in the bucket for this part of the Weaselhead Park.
It was a pleasant treat to get back to this area and experience it in a new way with some new people.  I enjoy Calgary's Parks when a full day in the mountains doesn't fit into the schedule.  I am happy to add this one to my go to list for those days.  It felt like spring out there today and it felt like a new beginning.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Shark Lake March 10, 2018

My dreams seem a bit brighter these days!  After many weeks I finally made it out to the big place to play, out where life begins off Highway 40.  That route 40 is the means to so much.  It leads us to many roads and trails like Shark Lake trailhead where we went today, and takes us to a place where there is not a care nor a concern, we call it "our happy place" where we go to get high on life. 
It was a later start than what I prefer but I was thankful for that today because another crew already there broke trail for a good stretch along the way.  The snow was the purest white gold.  We were rich in our environment.
 a view and my crew
We arrived at Shark Lake and stuck close to the edge to snowshoe to the back side.  The snow was deep.  Pole measurements would put it at waist deep.  We passed through the shade and found a spot in the sunshine to dine.  It was warm, so peaceful, and absolutely the prettiest place.
 After lunch we looked at life a little differently, we looked at it through rose coloured glasses.

 and this is what that looks like, through our eyes anyway
Once our fuel was all played off, we packed up and headed off, continuing around Shark Lake.  I have been to this Lake before but never circumnavigated the whole thing.  It was nice to see the different views from various angles.  
 my destination shot
We were making good time on the beaten down trail, actually making too good of time, so I took a little time off & on to savour some scenes and take it all in.   Before heading down through the last stretch, I glanced back one last time and took a few seconds just to be thankful I was out here with friends making life happen.

It felt so good and it felt so right to have those snowshoes strapped to my boots.  Winter is flying by and my number of snowshoeing adventures have been at an all time low this season.  I am no where near ready to retire them to my basement.  Here's to more dreams appearing brighter!