Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sulphur Mountain & Sundance Canyon January 20, 2018

I can't help myself, I keep looking at web cams from throughout Banff National Park and I sigh and I just want to be there.  Thursday morning rolled around and I then had time to consider where I might like to hang out on Saturday.  It was looking like I would have to go solo so needed some place safe.  Sulphur!  Sundance!  I am probably the only avid hiker who has not hiked up the front side of Sulphur under the Gondola.  In getting my focus back on track which I forgot about, I went for something new.  
I began early with intentions to be on the top before loads of tourists arrive.  Today is the first day the Gondola is running after the annual winter maintenance closure.  My pack was light, only microspikes and poles were needed, and off to the top I trekked.  

It was just me and the trees.
Every now and then I got a peek between the trees.
Thank goodness for switchbacks, they made for an easy quick ascent.  I arrived at the top just as the first Gondola tourists of the day were arriving.   I hoped for a pretty view and I got it.  Banff just woke up.  You can see little brown Tunnel Mountain bottom right.
At the far end where Cosmic Ray meets up with the boardwalk was the best spot for a summit shot.
new untouched snow
morning tea time
After checking out the views from the boardwalk I checkout out inside then took the stairs to the fourth floor and headed back outside.   This new facility is wonderful.  The fires were going and that paired with the chairs, the scenery and sunshine, I could not resist the invitation to just sit.....
.....take it all in and "remember to breathe"!
some of the sights from up on Sulphur
Slowly the tourists began to arrive, gondola car by gondola car.  The place was not overloaded yet.  After investing time to see all I wanted to see and experience all I wanted to experience up here, I hopped the gondola down.  It was a free ride which is the case in winter months if you hiked up.  This was my view out the open window.
I have only been out to Sundance Canyon once so I added that to today's Banff adventure  to see it in full on winter mode.  While the parking lot was packed the trail was not.  I made quick time down the trail getting to where the Bow River was accessible.
along the Bow
the river, the mountains
I reached the entrance to Sundance Canyon.
You can see the suspended bridge down below that I crossed.
The section going up to the bridge was dicey as was the section getting up to here.   The stairs and steps along the way were filled in with snow and that was compacted and straight up and down and slippery.  Even with microspikes it was sketchy.   That being said, it was pretty up here and worth the sketchy stretches.
On the way back the views were just as sweet.  
I captured one last photograph.  
I like shadow shots like this.  
It shows how sunny today was. 

I was reminded again today how fortunate I am to have this beautiful National Park out my back door.  I saw so much it seemed like I was away forever.  What a wonderful escape today and I am thankful for that!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Rawson Lake & Upper Kananaskis Lake January 14, 2018

Did anyone stay in the city today?  Is pot puffing now legal?  I thought for certain hitting the road west very very early on a Sunday morning would afford me a quiet easy sail to where life begins at the turnoff onto Highway 40.  I was mistakenly wrong big time, so I just went with the flow until it was time to break away from that madness.  I arrived at a quiet Upper Kananaskis Lake parking lot.  The ice fishermen were already fishing and more were suiting up to do so beside me.  Or should I say were "puffing up" beside me.  As I geared up I began to think I may get my "high" fix not just from when I "remember to breathe" but by just breathing alone.  I geared up and got out of there while finding myself smiling wide, but why!  Yes, I was happy! It was pretty here, the temperature was ideal, it was quiet and I was where I belonged.  That's what I contribute my happiness to!  
What a morning it was here!  It seemed surreal in a way.  There were the odd touches here and there that made it that much more beautiful.  Snow covered boulders scattered along the edge of the Upper Kananaskis Lake.....
.....mountain peaks peeking through cloud windows.....
.....a line of cloud stayed stationary the whole time.....
At certain sections along the trail I snowshoed down to the lake side for more wide open vistas.  
I got to see back at the bridge I just went over.  
There were new signs along the way.
I spotted a wildlife camera while it spotted me.
I like to arrive early at Rawson Lake in the winter to get the good lighting.  As the minutes passed and the sun got higher the view became blinding white and washed out.  There was no one else here.  It was incredibly peaceful and pretty.
I followed the broken trail to a safe view point.
owning Rawson Lake
After my Rawson reprieve, I went for a quick trip down to upper.  For the majority of the descent my method was a jog of a sort.  I arrived back at Upper Kananaskis Lake and took the trail along the shore back to the parking lot.  That cloud still lined itself along the mountain range.
The pot puffers were out ice fishing by now.  My only source of "high" now is the sight to behold.  I geared down then drove over to the Interlakes parking lot to hike in that area.  This was my first view.  I enjoy being alone at times so I can take the time I want to play photographer.  I like to see things in a different perspective, I will let you figure this one out.
The view in front of me and behind me was amazing.  
Behind me that long cloud still lingered.
This is why I like winter!
I found a place in the sun, settled down and soaked it up.  
I like perspective!
This is about a foot high!
But this is about six feet high!  The moose owned the road for a little while, while we all waited for it to decide what to do.  A little moose was off to the side in the bushes.  When the road was clear we began to move on and as my turn came the moose turned and started to walk the road again.  I quickly snapped a shot and got the heck out of there.   I think the moose was telling me to get going!

What a day!  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Watridge Lake, Spray River & Lake January 6, 2018

When all is said and done, it is a vision like this that I hope to see.  This kind of view is what motivates me to be "out & about" and what keeps me coming back for more.  Sometimes in life these loves don't come easily but I try to forget the effort that goes into getting to my love and just be thankful that I am with fun friends sharing our passion in life.  It's about the journey though and the journey began at 7:30am when we met in the city to face our day at the playground.
I have been on this journey a few times and it is different & feels new each time.  
I wonder what will be in store for us today as we leave the trail head!
We made good time along the Watridge Trail to Watridge Lake.  It is not enough just to visit the Lake, we opted to circumnavigate the edge to the far end.  The work began here as we broke trail through deep heavy snow the whole way.  With strong trail breakers we made good time here too.
We left Watridge Lake and put our route finding skills to work to bushwhack and trail break through the forest back out to the main trail then down to the first bridge.  The river was wide open and the views began, yet they were somewhat gray to start.
 We found our way to the stump section.
This was the perfect place for lunch.  There were many stumps to choose from to settle down on and dine.  We had no wind so my tea poured straight into the cup.  The ginger tea paired perfectly with my chickpea/penne/chicken salad, boiled egg, and multi-grain rounds.  Lunch was just long enough to fuel up then we carried on with photo ops and more trail breaking.
When it was safe to do so we snowshoed close to the Spray River.  The river was wide and more open than before so for a large stretch it was necessary to be up higher where we were in deep snow and trail breaking again.  I was glad to have a happy strong trail breaker game to lead the way.
The further along we went it became safe to go down onto the river and admire the ice bubbles.
 on the Spray River
Finally the gray turned to blue and it shed a whole new light on the views and on my spirit.  
It was nothing but beauty before us.  This section was easy going yet I was beginning to feel tired.  We still had a long way to go.  I stayed focused though, focused on the scenery and nothing but.
 the ice was pretty in pictures
What's a snowshoe trek without a little flipping fun!
It took all my energy to flip that tiny bit of wet heavy snow!
 the only wildlife we saw all day
We reached Spray Lake and we verified the route we needed to take and checked the conditions before stepping out onto it and then we monitored it along the way.   It was safely solid for the entire stretch.  I love a shadow shot and we were afforded a perfect one.
 breaking trail 
 taking time to admire the scenery
the ice makes the photo
As we reached the end of Spray Lake and entered the forest I had one last look back.  I captured this physical shot and then took a minute to capture a mental image.  I could not have wished for a last view back to look any more perfect than this.  Then we entered the forest, reached the X-C Ski trail and snowshoed along side it back to our ride.
All safe & sound, all maybe a little sore in spots, all maybe a little tired, we fell into the vehicle and headed home.  There is always so much to be thankful for and to appreciate.  I think about these things every time after our play date in the mountains.  Thank you for everything about today, to our driver, to our trail breaker, to friends being fun and playing safe!