Saturday, March 30, 2019

LM9 Aylmer Canyon Campground March 30, 2019

The forecast is for March to go out like a lamb and that means to me to just get out there and go. So off we went, to Lake Minniwanka with intentions to aim for LM8 Aylmer Pass Junction Campground where we could lounge around on the beach basking in the sunshine.   We made it to LM8 and then we made it to LM9 and then we made it half a click beyond LM9.  It looked inviting and tempting to carry on even further but we played it smart and did not give in to the temptation.   Everything about today was easily lovable!   
This was a very very quiet place this morning with only three other vehicles in the parking lot when we arrived shortly before 9:30am.  Right from the start the views were exactly as I like them.  Minniwanka Lake was still snow covered yet as can be expected in this area at this time of year, that's about the only place where there was snow.  
Once up and out of Stewart Canyon the trail was snow free & ice free & dry.  
The sun blazes down on this open slope.
We arrived at the Aylmer Pass Junction and eyed Aylmer Lookout.   
I wondered would people be heading up there today.
 We followed the snow free trail through the LM8 Aylmer Pass Junction Campground.
 ready for back country campers
We went straight down to the beach and made this our lunch destination.  It was so peaceful here and such a delight to sit quietly feeling the warmth of the sun soothe our souls and lift our spirits.  That's what a beautiful spring day does!
 play time
We had a great view up to Aylmer Lookout and it sure looked to be doable.  From experience we know there would be sections of snow early on the way up there but if that's all there was it would be a great day for others to be up there.
After lunch and with time on our side along with everything else on our side, we packed up and followed the shore a kilometer from LM8 to LM9 Aylmer Canyon Campground.  We hiked on the hard packed snow which made for quick and easy travel.
 This is it, LM9.
We went up to the campground and walked around checking out the set-up. 
It appeared campers had been here recently.
In addition to a play time photo I also grabbed a destination shot. This is it, all this, it's all ours today. It was actually hot, shortly here after we went down to our base shirts.  I took my gaiters off, rolled up my pants and pushed down my socks.
There was so much to enjoy about today that we prolonged the return a little longer and carried on along the shore a half kilometer beyond LM9.  We embraced this whole stretch and savoured every second.  
 We had a wide open vista behind us up towards Aylmer Lookout and into the Pass.
When we reached our "we have gone far enough" point, we then retraced our steps back to LM8.  We snacked up and then continued on with our return trek.  It felt like summer but with springy/wintry like views.    
 view from the bridge over Stewart Canyon
We arrived back to civilization.  It was still not busy at all here.  It was early evening now so we decided to get back to the car instead of stopping to hang out a while.  This area will soon be hopping with many kinds of visitors, from hikers to bikers, backpackers to picnickers.  It was a treat to be here on a day like this when we pretty much had outright ownership.
 This was our track for today.  We covered 21.1 kms with 418 meters of cumulative gain.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

McLean Hills March 28, 2019

As I entered Kananaskis Country today I was pleasantly surprised to see how much snow had fallen.  It was just enough to create pretty pictures so I stopped to take some, pictures that is, not the snow.  We were heading off to hike our way through the McLean Hills.  Soon the gate will open and the Hills will be flooded with vrooom vrooom vroooms, the sound of ATVs.  Today we were afforded a peaceful place. 
view from the road on the way to the trail head
lots of new white gold
It was windy enough and cool enough that I needed to start out donning an extra layer, hat and heavier gloves.   I had my regular hiking boots on but wished I was wearing my winter hiking boots.  I had on my regular hiking pants but wished I was wearing my winter hiking pants.  If felt like winter all over again.

We entered the forest and began the ascent.  
I like being in the forest when it looks like this.    
We had to perform a little bit of route finding.  I was up in these hills years ago, today it was not as I remembered.  There were many trails branching off and the route we needed was not totally obvious at all times.  We made it to the summit of McLean Hills that offered up this view.
my summit shot
The summit was our chosen lunch location.  
We picked different spots to settle down and dine.
Some sat down slope a bit in a sheltered spot.
I went for the top front center then bundled up to brace against the elements. 
my lunch time view
We descended down the Priddis cut line reaching a meadowy area.
from there we located the Horizon Trail and followed it to the end
We ended up at this location with the bench, table and fire pit.   
The only task ahead was to work our way out to the road then follow it a short distance back to the trail head.  By now lots of the snow had melted and we were no doubt up into a + digit temperature.   This is our route for today out in the McLean Hills.
As the end of March approaches, I wonder what we are in for weather-wise!  
March came in like a roaring lion!
Forecasts are showing it will go out like a ______!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Mockingbird Lookout March 26, 2019

Today I got to see what Mockingbird Lookout looks like in the daylight!  You see, it was this Lookout where I rang in 2019!  Back then we hiked up in the dark, celebrated in the dark and hiked down in the dark. When the opportunity was put out there to do this hike today, there was no himmming nor hummming, I jumped on board.  I wanted to see what this place was made off!  It is a a lovely lookout with of course a 360 degree view.  We had a beautiful day to experience it but it was windy.     
The route up is a dirt road.  It was clear in areas with hard packed snow for some stretches.  
This sign indicates we only have a couple more minutes left to our hike up.  We skirted to the right of that fence you can see mid photo on the right.  That allowed us to avoid climbing over the closed gate that is lined with barbwire.
We approached the Lookout at a different direction from the night of the 31st.  
This is the initial view.    
The others stopped to admire the scenery right away but I went straight up to the Mockingbird Hill Fire Lookout.  I like everything about Lookouts just like I love everything about Lighthouses.  There is just something about them!
Talk about vistas!  Mountain peaks stretched the entire length of our view.  
I captured this photo from the Lookout balcony.
We were all circling the property taking in the full 360 degrees of scenery.  I was figuring out where I would like to be for my destination photo.  I like this spot the best.  No one was home yet but that could change soon.  When it does, being this close will be off limits.
We picked our lunch spot and there was no where up here that you could pick where you would not have a view.  The best place though was being up close against the wall of the Lookout sheltered from the wind.  The outhouse just so happened to be a part of the view on the windless sheltered side.
view in another direction
Within about the 45 minutes or so we spent at Mockingbird Lookout, some snow had melted and some mud had formed.  We went for a bit of off trail on the descent.  I took one last look back and then it was forward march to the bottom.
This is the best time of year to be here which is a weekday early season.  Soon the Lookout Person will be home, being close up will then be off limits.  ATV & Side-By-Side sportsters will soon be frequenting the surrounding area interrupting the peace and quiet.  As has been the case these past few weeks, I got to make new friends and catch up with old ones today while out enjoying our playground.  

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sulphur Mountain March 25, 2019

Well, gosh dang it!  I have been curious to know if all that fast snowshoeing trying to keep up with the senior citizens has been beneficial.  I have been curious too about that globe up on Sulphur Mountain.  Reports presented a great forecast for today in the Banff area and my calendar showed a free day.  Forecast + Free = Forward Ho!  So forward hoing I went!  

The drive west was absolutely beautiful while the fog was lifting and even more so afterwards.  The hike up Sulphur Mountain was under blue sky with those wispy clouds I love so much.  It was warm, my shirt sleeves were pushed up to bare my arms, no gloves nor hat were needed.  As I was curious about how long it would take me to reach the top, I opted out of taking photographs along the way.  There would be plenty of time at the top for that on this beautiful day.  
Well, gosh dang it!  The minute I arrived at the top, a black cloud came from who knows where and it began to snow on Sulphur Mountain.  I captured this shot just before it disappeared.  The flakes were big and fluffy with not much space between each one.  
I went into the globe thinking what a great place to eat my snack.  I settled in then noticed a sign saying it was closed.  I wonder then why was the door open.  I grabbed my shot and I got out of there.
The Globe!
The snow lightened up but I was not going inside to snack so I picked a spot by the fire.
 warming my hands before eating
 This was my view while snacking.  That was as far as I could see and that was all I could see.  
I stuck around for a little while thinking the sky might clear.  When it appeared not to be happening, I decided to hop the gondola for the ride down seeing as it was still free.  Well, gosh dang it!  As I was nearing the end of the gondola ride the sky began to get bright.  The drive home was absolutely beautiful!  

Today's time for ascending Sulphur Mountain was 1:34.  That is my best time so far.
Well, Gosh! Following those seniors around is whipping me into shape!