We wanted an unusual mountain to play on, a snow-free trail, a summit we could own, a bright & beautiful forecast and an amazing place to celebrate a birthday! We hoped to receive all this wrapped up in one great big package for us. Our wishes came true! We unravelled the ribbon as the day went on and in the end we were truly grateful to be gifted an amazing adventure hiking/scrambling Maze Peak. It was our friend's birthday today and we were the fortunate ones to share his day with him.
It was a long pretty drive to the trail head on all kinds of road conditions. We found where we should park, geared up and went on our way, finding our way, through the forest first, then straight up a steep scree slope. The sky was grey & gloomy. Then just like that, with the snap of your fingers, in a split second, blink and you miss it, the sky opened up and the clouds cleared. We were afforded breath-taking, jaw dropping, eye-opening views!
My motivation moved way up the chart. Now I was ready to start snapping shots. Here is Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in the middle down below behind me with the sun shining brightly on it. It's private property owned and managed by Parks Canada but it is not a National Park. This ranch is the only federally operated working horse ranch in Canada. Horses are wintered and trained here to be used as working horses for patrolling and protecting Canada's Western National Parks.
view of the Red Deer River below and Labyrinth Mountain across the way
We still had a large amount of elevation gain to cover over a short distance but all ready we had experienced a wide variety of terrain. First it was working our way through the forest, then hiking on vibrant green spongy moss, next was slogging up a steep screen slope, sauntering through a lovely rock garden and now we get to sail along a ridge.
Finally our destination, the summit of Maze Peak, came into view.
It is the light brown bump after the high dark brown bump.
My friends and I are at different levels when it comes to our experiences playing in the mountains. Here it is quite obvious with what level we are at when we see where we need to get to and what we have to cover to get there. Me, sheer fight! Him, sheer joy!
Our pace was slow as we made sure to savour every second of today's adventure.
making my way up through some rubble
view along the way
We could clearly see the saddle in the middle and the ridge walk over to a sub-summit and view point. Our destination is out of sight but to the right. We dicussed this section and left tagging that end point as a possibility on our way back down.
There were sections along the way where my preference was to be sandwiched closely between my two friends. My skills are no where near the level theirs are but these are two people who I trust and who I know are there for me in helping me build confidence and to grow as an adventurer.
We have our eye on the prize!
(photo credit Adventurer Designer)
My friend's photo puts into perspective the only kind of work I do these days!
view back to the saddle and that sub-summit view point
yet even more beautiful though is they frame those snow covered peaks
We reached the summit of Maze Peak! I had a moment behind my sunglasses, I tried to keep it quiet but with no luck. It was so incredibly beautiful up here. Before anything I made sure to secure my summit shot which I am so proud to get to capture!
Here we are!
We debated a couple of times before reaching the summit whether we may just stay long enough to capture photographs of us at our prize. It was wicked windy at times but thankfully it was not a cold wind. We settled down and embraced this place. We dined! We played! We laughed! I swore! We celebrated our friend's birthday! If we had more day light hours, our visit would have been longer. (summit signing photo credit Adventurer Designer)
view from the summit
We worked out way down, slowly, me methodically watching every foot placement. I was actually enjoying it and found it easier than the ascent. We still took time to savour the seconds yet keeping in mind what time the sun set. Today we would be making sure there was no reason to be pulling out the headlamps!!! I confirmed with my friends that I did not want to be putting that thing on my head!!!
The cloud formations became so pretty and put on a nice dance. I really truly enjoyed them as I had not seen clouds in so long that I was forgetting what they looked like. We looked back up here to see the prize we were gifted.
We lingered and we lingered! We took a short break to refuel and to once again admire such beautiful scenery. We seem so small below in our gigantic mountain playground. The shadows reminded us the day was getting on and we should move on. I reaffirmed with my friends that I did not want to be putting my headlamp on my head today!!!
We could see an end was in sight. The light was setting yet we still had more than enough time to get back to the vehicle. We meadered when we reached the forest, stopped for a few minutes while my friend laid down on that vibrant green spongy moss to rest and savour some more seconds before our day would come to and end. I knew now and felt relieved that we would not be needing our headlamps!!!
We popped out of the woods right at the car! Boy, we're good! We had a plan in place and that was to have a birthday celebration dinner at the saloon in Water Valley. The location was to be a surprise but my friend figured it out eventually. We changed our attire before leaving and then hit the long road for the long ride back to civilization.
The sun set quickly once we were in the car and on our way. We talked about our day. We began to admire the dark sky and the stars that were appearing. We pulled off, turned off the lights then looked upward to see thousands of stars lighting up the sky. We still had a long drive ahead and we were hungry so did not linger too long. It began to seem surreal being out here and even a tad erie. It was so dark, bushy bundles of bush were blowing across the road in front of us, we could see gas flares in spots through the trees. I commented that things go bump in the night! We continued on and then the ride did not feel smooth, it felt a little loop-sided and then with the window rolled down we were 99% sure we had a flat tire. We pulled off to make an inspection! Sure enough we had a flat tire! It was pitch black out here so you know what that meant! We had to put on our headlamps!!! Why did I have the strangest of feelings when I pulled out my headlamp and put it on my head! I smiled to myself and had an inside chuckle! My friends went to work and in no time at all the tire was changed and we were on our way to the saloon in Water Valley. We toasted to our day and to my friend's birthday!
They have had many epic outtings in the past and I wondered would today be considered epic to them. I asked would having a flat tire out in the middle of no where on a dirt narrow winding road in the dark of night make today's experience epic? My friend reasured me that our whole day was epic! I was so happy to hear that! We wanted our friend's day to be special!
As I wrote at the start of today's story, "We wanted an unusual mountain to play on, a snow-free trail, a summit we could own, a bright & beautiful forecast and an amazing place to celebrate a birthday! We hoped to receive all this wrapped up in one great big package for us."
Our wishes came true!
Happy Birthday to You!