Saturday, October 14, 2017

West for Winter October 14, 2017

I declare "I am ready for winter" so I went west today looking for it.  I kicked off summer with heading to Iceland, a place I had never been and it was such a successful solo trip.  I had a wonderful summer of venturing to new heights at places that I have never been.  I shared trails with many old & new friends, more so than ever before.  I found a new love in kayaking a sport I tried for the first time in September.   I enjoyed three large large hikes the most I have ever experienced in a row.  

Now I want winter!  
Do you?
At 2:30 am Saturday morning I realized I needed to save my Saturday.  All original plans finally fully fell by the way side and I was on my own.  I knew I wanted winter and I chased it down.  I landed at the Lake Louise parking lot in darkness along side only five other vehicles.   I geared up and joined the others.  We waited, then waited a little more.

then Lake Louise began to wipe the sleep from her eyes
then she stretched
then she came alive
and showed off her winter white
then added a touch of color to her day
While the others packed up and headed on their way elsewhere, I strolled along the lake shore.  
The scenery was incredible.  
My pace was a photographer's one.  
I was alone and thoroughly enjoyed the peace the quiet the scenery.
nearing the far end of Lake Louise
I knew I could go deeper into winter following the trail.  

a golden moment in my day
At the far end of the lake I noticed other fresh tracks in the snow that were heading the same way I was.  They came down off the slope onto the trail.  They did not belong to a bear but they were a significant size to not belong to a bunny, nor a weasel, nor a coyote.  Then I noticed there were two sets one bigger one smaller.  Then I did an about face and aimed back along the lake.
I arrived back to the parking lot in time for some lunch.  I savoured that then headed out again along the Fairview Trail and the Tramline to check out when the X-C Ski season may start.  Soon my friends, soon!
Before leaving The Village, I went for a stroll along the Bow River Trail.  
I thought about being up on Fairview (on the right) with my southern friends this summer.
I said good bye to Lake Louise and hit the highway east then south.  I drove into Kootenay National Park in British Columbia with intentions of going deeper south.  The weather here was not what I was expecting and the road conditions rattled me a bit.  I turned around and stopped in at The Continental Divide for a safe photo opportunity, the one and only from B.C. today.
Next it was on to Banff where I spent the next hour walking along the Bow River here and admiring the beauty and watching the runners race on the icy pathway.  The trees still had color and it felt autumn-like here.
I roamed around the Bow Falls area.  I watched a wedding from a vantage point on the other side of the river and after that walked along the paved golf course pathway.  The weather was incredible and the scenery too.
Once I invested time in touring Banff it was onto the 1 then onto the 1A.  I stopped off to capture the scary looking cloud, admired Yamnuska, and continued along the winding old highway.
 from scary cloud to friendly cloud
Nearing dinner time I was getting close to Ghost Lake.  I pulled in nd envisioned kayaking here next summer on a calm day.  It was wild and windy here right now.  I thought about waiting here for the sun to set but I was ready to settle too, settle onto my sofa with my blanket and drifting off to dreams of winter to come.
While it's still autumn in the city it is winter in the mountains.  
I know what I am ready for and what I want and it's time to chase after it.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Nose Hill October 9, 2017

It wasn't until when I woke early this morning that I took time to wonder what would my Thanksgiving Monday look like.  I wondered for a minute then my plan was in place.  I hopped out of bed and began to execute that plan at a quick pace so I could make it to Nose Hill Park before sunrise.  Today's the day to be extra thankful and I wanted to acknowledge that by watching the sun rise and then admiring the earthy autumn hues.  This photo captures exactly what I had hoped to see but I witnessed lots more than just this which was more than I could have hoped for.
 I waited and watched as the sun broke through the horizon.
 The sky filled with amazing sunrise shades.
It was fresh and cold and I was bundled up for that and needed all the layers even as I began to ascend.  When I was ready to explore the Hill I turned my back to the sunrise to see fields and hills of orange.
All I could think of was alpenglow!
It looked like the place was on fire!
shadows stretched on for eternity
 I found my way to the rock circle and took time to have my breakfast.  
The lighting was gorgeous so I savoured my breakfast instead of devouring it.  
 It was an incredible feeling to be here this morning seeing all there was to see.  Even though it was still early I could see another parking lot entrance off in the distance which was full.  Many others had the same idea as me.
Mother Nature at her finest!
The whole while my eyes were focused on what was in front but I did take a look back and the sun was still working its way above the trees.  I knew I needed to stay low to capture the beauty the light was causing.
still more trails to follow
 nothing other than just a plain simple pretty picture
 autumn meets winter's snow capped peaks  
and yet another trail calls
I both figuratively and literally got lost on Nose Hill this morning.  I did not pay attention to where I was going as I just went with where the colors called.  Every now and then I ascended to a high point to get a lay of the land and my bearings.  That offered me even more vibrant vistas.
Feeling visually fulfilled and even somewhat exhausted from all the witnessing of beauty it was time to head home.  I exited Nose Hill Park with a broad smile appreciating that I am pretty fortunate for what I have in my life. 

Thank you!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Healy, Simpson, Sunshine October 7, 2017

Deja-vu from my last post of hiking up to Gibbon Pass Peak, "you may want to settle in and get cozy for our story".   We experienced yet another fabulous day in our mountain playground, this time exploring on trail throughout Healy Pass, Simpson Pass and up to Sunshine Meadows.  I did not intentionally go for the larches, I hoped for blue sky, I am not quite ready for snowfall and cold, my wish was for a touch of snow already on the ground.  I wanted a long day of incredible beauty and a fun time with friends.  Boy oh boy!  What we were afforded exceeded my expectations by a walloping ten-fold!  So sounding like a broken record here we go again,  "you may want to settle in and get cozy for our story". 
At the start it's a long trek in the trees with a few open opportunities so when they presented themselves we took full advantage.  We were first on the trail and I like it like that because we get the pristine, perfect, pure experience.     
I thought the tree-trekking would never end.  I remembered we would come to the beginning of the lasting opening where we would have our first larch viewing and a bridge to cross over Healy Creek.  We did get there but just not as soon as I expected.  The wait was worth it.  I was surprised to see the majority of the larch trees still in the prime of their lives.
fitting in with the scenery
breaking trail in the new snow
snow collecting on the larch needles
As we neared Healy Pass the sky turned dark and threatened to do something but nothing materialized.  My original hope was to sail across The Monarch Ramparts but after doing my homework I found it to be included in the Parks Canada restricted area, one side for Banff National Park (to protect the land and the grizzly habitat) and the far end by The Monarch for Kootenay National Park (due to the wildfires).
The Monarch and it's Ramparts.
We reached Healy Pass, checked the posted Restriction Maps, then made our way down slope towards Egypt Lake to find a dining spot.  We sat to the side where we had a view and I savoured my sandwich, apple, energy bar, boiled egg, tortilla chips and tea.
sharing the day with friendly friends
just a taste of the fun to be had with snow
my Healy Pass destination shot
We packed up then hiked back up the hill to the Pass then downhill for quite some time by lakes, by tarns, through larch forests, all the while appreciating the beauty and how fortunate we have been so far already.
a snow squall with humongous snow flakes
It was into the afternoon and time for another lunch.  We opted to dine at Simpson Pass sitting in Alberta and looking at British Columbia which was just a few feet from our feet.  As we dined the sky began to clear again and the warmth we felt was wonderful.
The climb out of the valley up to Sunshine Meadows took some time.
It was too pretty to just pass by plus the climb went on and on and on.
at a flat section along our ascent
We arrived up at Sunshine Meadows and the view was outstanding.  
I eyed Quartz Ridge off in the distance and where you would pass by along the Citadel Pass Trail.  That trail has been off limits ever since the wildfire began back in July. We slowed our pace through the Meadows so we could have loads of time to "remember to breathe" for our own personal reasons.
larch tree showing off it's shadow
We carried on aiming towards Sunshine Village.  We could now see the ski hills which ignited a fire in the skiers amongst us.  I sensed their hopes were to be hitting the slopes soon.  The lighting was so pretty now that we were into the very late afternoon.
a resting spot just before The Village
Sunshine Village
The only task we had left was to hike down the road back to the Bourgeau Parking Lot.  
Along the way we encountered an opportunity for entertainment.  

It was a relief to arrive back at our vehicles where we made good time in gearing down in favour of quickly getting into our vehicles to softly sit down, warm up then head on home.  For me today will be memorable for many reasons.  How fortunate for some of us to experience three weeks in a row of witnessing larch trees at their prime.  I have never covered so much ground in one day in this area of our playground.  It set a new standard for when down the road I venture back here.  Thank you for sharing this day with me and letting yourselves just be, just being one with this pretty place.