Saturday, August 20, 2016

Queen of the Castle

I never had intentions of reaching the summit of Castle Mountain.  I was content with just looking up and admiring the majestic mountain.  A couple of weeks prior, I heard someone mention the name and for whatever reason it implanted in my brain and I could not let it go.  I gathered some information from Agent X and Michael JC, I bought Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies by Alan Kane, I downloaded two gpx files.  I received pertinent info from Adventure Designer and Smuts-Fist.  Yes, I did my homework and after doing so and coming to the realization that I believed I could stand up on top of Castle Mountain where that red star is, I put an invite out with hopes of getting a few experienced & supportive friends on board and I got exactly what I wished for.  
We got an early start and made good time ascending along the 7.4 kilometers long boring tree-lined trail up to Tower Lake.  It was as we arrived here where the view opened up to present to us the work we had in front of us to get to our destination.
Tower Lake
We took a break to fuel up.
Our destination is the top of the mountain to the right of the V.
We worked our way up to Rockbound Lake, took a few photos, checked out where we were headed next and then began the steep climb up to the plateau above the Lake.  It was quite warm by now with no breeze but thank you for the few fluffy clouds.
on the plateau above Rockbound Lake with our destination at the top left to the the right of the V
view as we worked our way even higher through the pleasant grassy meadow area
Rockbound Lake below me
I felt like I was on another planet.
Incredible view of all the Peaks & Knobs
The type of terrain we were traversing was new to me.  I enjoyed the variety and there was never a dull moment.  We passed over a gully that offered up this vantage of Rockbound Lake below Helena Ridge.  That lake looks like a jewel.
We passed by another gully on the opposite side that gave us a sneak peek of Highway 1 below us.
Yet even higher with another vantage view, I knew it was time for one last photo before making the final push to the summit.  I carried a photo of me and Ian in my pack. It's one of my favourite photos of when we were children.  I thought of Ian and knew he was right there with me because I felt this incredible burst of energy with only a few more minutes left to go.
I arrived at the top overcome with emotions.  
I tried to hide it behind my glasses by no luck.

After gathering my composure I secured my first summit shot framing Mount Temple with my victory pose and hoping my friends were accomplishing the same success with their summit bid over on that Mountain.  
Queen of The Castle
We spent about 50 minutes on the summit sharing it with a few others.  
I settled down to dine with this view in front of me.    
Eisenhower Peak
my five friends and me
Queens & Kings of The Castle
After investing the lengthy amount of time the summit of Castle Mountain was worthy off, we began the very, very long journey down.  The views remained incredible. We took the high trail to circumnavigate our way around the upper plateau above Rockbound Lake.
getting lower
me & Short Stop
the hue of our shirts blend nicely with the Lake
Now back at Tower Lake we had all the hard work behind us.
We had the last seven to eight kilometers to get through.  
We put our heads down, aimed down through the trees over all the roots and rocks.
Eleven and a half hours later, we arrived back at where we began our day.  Even though my dogs were barking (for those of you not familiar with that term, it means my feet were sore), I still felt as high as I did when I was on the summit of Castle Mountain.  We stopped in at Castle Village for an ice cream and while savouring that, I also savoured a few more minutes looking up to see where I stood a few hours early.
This was an incredible day for me.  I was thankful to be in the company of experienced, encouraging and supportive people.  I felt like I made leaps and bounds growing as adventurer.  It was an empowering feeling to be on that summit and also to complete this hike/scramble with only sore soles of my feet.  

Thank you for this day!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

prettily packed

I wanted to make a meander on Mist happen with hopes of coming away with many memorable moments.  Mmmm, Mother Nature are you going to cooperate was on my mind!  I put the mention of my plan out there and much to my delight many friends motioned their approval by jumping on board.  The Mist Ridge & Rickerts Pass Loop would be my biggest hike this season with many kilometers to cover along with many meters of elevation gain and many hours on the trail.  I was motivated and ready.

our view as we crossed Highway 40 to the trail head on the other side
We spent close to two hours in the trees working our way up and towards the Ridge.  It was warm right from the get-go but we just put our heads down, kept on the quiet side and got that business done.  Then WOW that climb now became worth the effort when we were offered up views like this.
After reaching the south summit we had a chat with a group from Outward Bound and I believe this link would be the group and the event.  We then carried on and began our up and down meander along Mist.  Enjoying the beauty and the peacefulness, right out of the blue from the ridge in front of us, along came this plane so close I felt like I could reach out and touch it.  The pilot tilted back and forth acknowledging us with a wave.  I was able to quickly snap this shot after he passed us. Talk about exciting and creating an adrenaline rush!
view along Mist Ridge
my destination shot along Mist Ridge
a dip along the way and opening up a view of forever
I quickly moved ahead of my friends so I could capture a photo that puts this Ridge in perspective.  We just descended from that high point and were now beginning to ascend to another one.  We enjoyed roughly 10 kilometers of views, terrain, ups & downs like this along the entire length of Mist Ridge.
You can see the whole line of peaks we still have to reach.
my fun friends & me
We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery,
being buzzed by the plane,
 and on top of that
we got to watch a cavalcade ride by.  
The entire stretch of the Ridge was covered in rocks & boulders & slabs of all sorts.
I would suggest this Ridge to be a geologists dream.
stopping for a short rest along the way
We finally reached the north summit of Mist Ridge.  This is my destination shot at this end.  From this point forward we had a short scramble to a rocky high point and then it was all down hill from there.
coming down the grassy slope towards Rickarts Pass
We arrived at Rickerts Pass.  We took a second lunch break here to admire the scenery, rest a bit and fuel up for the last eight kilometers back to the trail head.  Getting through this distance to come would be back to putting our heads down and getting that business done.
a few short minutes before arriving to where we would be calling it a day
This day will be a memorable one for me.  
I would not have asked for it to play out any differently than it did. 
Mentally & physically I felt like I was "on top of the world"!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Superb Sunday

As the weekend approached, I watched the weather forecast closely with hopes that Sunday would be favourable to get high and feel mighty.  Not until just prior to bed time on Saturday night, everything fell into place and the Lake Louise area would be open for a number of hours to secure a summit.  I picked Fairview Mountain knowing others would be there which would be my security blanket.  I did not really care to solo today but that's how plans worked out.   When I woke this morning and did one final check of the weather forecast, it had improved over night so this would be a definite plan.

I arrived early knowing how crazy the Lake Louise area is this summer with tourists.  By 8:00am the Park Wardens were already at the entrance to the lot directing traffic and the lower lot was filling fast.  Wardens were already sending vehicles to the upper lot also.  

I bypassed Lake Louise and aimed right for the trail up.  Absolutely nothing was visible by the Lake, no water, no mountains, no glaciers.  The whole area was covered in valley fog and clouds.  The trail is treelined for the first while with no views but once it opened up this is what I saw.  I had to wrap my head around this, it seemed surreal.  I hiked through the clouds and fog and came out above it all.  
 higher up looking down
To this point at Saddleback Pass there were no other hikers.  
This surprised me with Fairview Mountain being such a popular destination.  
 Mount Temple
Higher up, the view became even more superb.  
 glaciers came into view even higher up
I arrvied at the summit as one man was packing up to head down.  We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes.  There was no one else up here although I could see a couple and another soloist not far down below.  I checked for reception and sure enough I had it.  This is my summit shot in front of Mount Victoria and Victoria Glacier.  It was fresh up here but no wind what-so-ever.
I took a little time to savour a snack and to enjoy the views.  I could see others across the way on Mount St Piran.  It looked like quite a crew.  I know that mountain top is becoming very popular.  Lake Louise looked devine down below and I loved the shadows on the treed slope.
on the way down
By now it was so hot and humid.  
I took a second snack time break at Saddleback Pass.   
I meet a few folks heading up.  
This was not a busy place at all today.  
Now Lake Louise was visible and showed off her glory.  This was where everybody was, just sitting and looking.  I don't blame them, the weather was amazing and the view was outstanding.  I found my way through the crowd and aimed for my car.
Like I have said a few times in the past, this was one of those days, you know, just one of those days! Hiking up through the clouds and being above them looking down onto them, takes "feeling like I am on top of the world" to a whole new level!  Thank you for this Superb Sunday!