Saturday, April 28, 2018

Aylmer Junction Campground April 28, 2018

Saturday's sensational stellar sunny synopsis dictated that I needed to be out there, some where!  I wanted obvious visual spring conditions and what I truly like about this time of year is when the lakes begin to shed their snow & ice and present blues of all shades and pieces of ice of all shapes.  I felt for easy enough to where the work was minimal and the views vast.  I hit the trail to the Aylmer Junction Campground early but first spent some time down on the lake shore of Minniwanka.   
I got a little down & dirty trying to capture the intricate edges of the ice formations.
After investing some early morning quiet time by the Lake, I aimed for the trail to Stewart Canyon, then began to ascend to the trail that would lead me to my destination.  The trail conditions were ideal.  The sun already beat down hotly.   
I made it to the junction and then veered right to pass through the Aylmer Junction Campground (LM8) and then on down to the beach.  Oh life's a beach!  The campground was deserted as was the beach.   
In May of last year I ventured up to that center high point, Aylmer Lookout.  
I had no interest in going there today as today was all about easy and beachy.
There was no open water here and the edge of the lake was thick with ice and packed snow.  It was an easy stroll for about a kilometer and I was probably on the edge of LM9 but not sure.  The ice shards fell away as I ran my fingers along the edge of the ice block.  I sat and played with them and this is was transpired.
Spring time in the Rockies
Still the area remained deserted.  Yet once I made it back to the Junction I began to meet up with bikers, hikers and back-country campers.  In a matter of a couple of hours, the shoreline began to offer up open water of beautiful colors.  
Back at the bridge over Stewart Creek.
The day had developed incredibly and I was no where near ready to leave it behind.  I found a spot back at Lake Minniwanka that I could own.  I settled down where I had a great 360 degree view and just appreciated everything that was right before my eyes.
I picked this to be my view as I snacked and just relaxed.  
The colors were amazing as were those fluffy pillowy clouds.  
This one last view that pretty much captures everything is what I turned my back to as I made my way along the trail to the parking lot.  Today really felt like spring finally.  The fire is ignited to experience what is out there as spring continues to unfold. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Barrier Lake Lookout April 22, 2018

When I knew once again that Sunday instead of Saturday was going to be my play day, I rattled my brain on where to go.  I "settled on" hiking up to the Barrier Lake Lookout.  I have been up there numerous times, in various conditions at different times of the year.  When I use the words "settled on" it makes it sound like well this place is better than nothing.  My experience today gave me a whole new appreciation for this Lookout Location and the words to describe it would be at the opposite end of the spectrum to "settled on".  How fortunate was I to see this place in this way!
I went for the early start, not as early as I tried for, but early enough to see the beautiful sky on the drive out, being the third vehicle in the lot, a bit of golden glow for the hike across the dam, and hearing the coyote cries.   Shortly after entering the forest I met a group coming down who had been at the viewpoint spot since 3:00am.  I knew then I would be on my own.
a split shadow
After entering the forest it was full on snow packed and solid enough that microspikes were needed.  I was beginning to realize the early start and hopefully early enough finish would afford me no slush nor mud.  Upon reaching the view point, those lovely clouds had developed and would stay with me for the entire time.
The steep parts up to the Ridge and then on up to the Lookout were solid snow steps.  It actually made for an easier ascent.  Once the sun shone on these sections it would become a bit sketchy.  I reached the Lookout Location and was shocked to see the amount of snow.  Someone had to have been along here with a shovel.  
I have never seen this much snow up here.  I already began to think that hopefully when it melts it evaporates up and doesn't run down.  I wondered if there was this much snow on surrounding mountains.  I admired the view from the helipad before heading on to the back side of the Lookout house.
There was no way I was getting to the rocky section by the wind flag.  The snow depth was near to my shoulders.  I wondered who shovelled the path.  Would the Lookout person be coming up here to live any time soon?  This was as close as I could get to the flag as the wind gusts came and went.
When no one is home, the deck is open to visitors.  
Being up on it afforded a great view down into the Bow Valley.  
The depth of the snow is crazy.  You know how tall I am, the snow level was to my shoulders.  It was like a maze walking through this part.  I thought about when I was canyoneering near Zion and instead of working my way through slot canyons here I was working my way through a snow canyon.
on the sunny side of the deck
After savouring the sun and a snack and some time just sitting and thinking, I packed up and began the trek down.  Ooops gotta grab my destination shot first.  I tested the snow first before stepping onto it.  It was packed solid enough to support me.  I knew I better get going before the snow becomes slush making for a slippery sketchy descent.
view of Yamnuska on the way down
I spent about an hour at the Barrier Lake Lookout.  The descent down to the Ridge was easy enough and the descent down the View Point was easy too.  Beyond that the snow was becoming soft but the steep sections were completed.  As I worked my way down the switchbacks I came upon three people heading up.  I was surprised there was no one else before that.  Then there was more people and even more and then again even more.  I knew they would all be contending with slush and no doubt mud.  
Hiking back along the dam to the trail head the scenery was an explosion of beauty!  No wonder so many people were just stopping and staring.  In a way I didn't want this hike to end and in another way I was glad it was over, I wanted to hurry home and download my photos.  When I got home and looked at them it just confirmed that we have such beautiful places here in our rocky mountains and that the words "settled on" never really should be used.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I have said before and I will say it again, after today my eyes are full to the brim!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Prairie Mountain April 15, 2018

STOP!  HALT!  SLOW DOWN!  WAIT!  I CAN'T KEEP UP!  This past little while has been a blur, the days are blending together and now it's mid April already!  I haven't been able to "stop and smell the roses" or to "remember to breathe".   I fit in a few hours this morning so I could get to a place where I could stop the clock. Prairie Mountain was that place!
My hope was to get there and be part way up for when the sun woke up but I was late.  
Yet I was still early enough to be afforded a front of the line parking spot and a very quiet trail.
I was early enough to be before the winds and clouds of the day came along.
There is still lots of wind whipped snow to the sides of the main trail.
How did mid April arrive so quickly, like out of the blue it snuck up.  That means in a mere month more hiking options will open up like Moose Mountain.    It sure looks like there is tonnes of snow over that way.
It was sunny and calm when I arrived at the summit of Prairie Mountain.  I had the place to myself so took time to make sure I captured a perfect summit shot.  It was nice to see a new in tack Canadian Flag flying. Just the slightest of breezes and that little flag flew like there was no tomorrow.
I wandered down slope towards the turnoff to do the Loop. For a few seconds I contemplated going for that loop but being solo it was best to return the old fashion way, which was the way I came up.   I looked around for some creative photo opportunities and came upon a couple.
I turned around and hiked back up to the top and saw I was still solo here at the summit.  
I stopped to smell the roses and to remember to breathe.