Saturday, April 22, 2017

Barrier Lake Lookout April 22, 2017

I never take for granted that I am fortunate to live in a place on our planet earth that has amazing places to play with breath-taking scenery right out my front door.  I love these places, I appreciate them, respect them, and treasure them.  Bundle all that together, add in some friends, then together fully embrace what Mother Earth and Mother Nature created for us on this Earth Day.
The Barrier Lake Lookout is a safe bet to reach this time of year.  
The earlier in the day the better to hit this trail.  
blue sky + no wind = pretty reflections
Trail conditions were all over the map.  They were dry to begin with, then short sections of wet dirt, next came ice for the entire way up the switchbacks.  We had our traction devices which meant no problem for us.  We reached the first view point which was a mud fest.  No lingering long here as we favoured reaching the Lookout sooner.  We checked out the rocky outcrop then made our way along the steeper stretches which consisted of mud, dry dirt, ice, snow.   I was glad to have safely worked our way up through all that to where these kinds of views began.
Yamuska in the distant middle
distant views caught my eye as did even the littlest of things
While it was wet with loads of snow up here, it was brown and dry down in the valley.
I was surprised to crest the hill and see the Lookout was open.  That dry valley is why the Lookout Lady was home. She arrived two and a half weeks ago due to it being dry down below.  Fires already occurred, one being sparked by a passing train.
Her and her pup came down to the helipad to greet us and chatted with us for some time.  
She gave us permission to follow the trail to the back of her home.  
I did so to capture my destination shot from my favourite vantage spot up here.  
We savoured a lengthy amount of time up here.  
The weather was on our side and it was not busy (yet).  
I checked out the many scenes.
After investing as much time as we felt worthy for today at Barrier Lake Lookout, it was time to pack up and head back.  We vacated our spots on the helipad to make room for the swarms of people beginning to arrive.  Our timing was spot on today for our visit here.  The trail down to the rocky outcrop was now full of a mess of mud & ice & snow and a mess of people coming up.  While waiting for the rest of our friends to arrive here, we enjoyed the view.
Earth Day holds different levels of meaning for each.  We all know one friend truly loves to get down and dirty.  We questioned whether her mishap was an accident or intentional.  Some of us hold a special section in our hearts for this place called Earth, others like to hold our earth in other places.  All in all I am sure my friends would agree that in which ever way you become one with our earth, it is truly good for the soul!
We became spread out somewhat as we maneuvered down that mad mess.  We waited here to gather together before aiming for those icy switchbacks. Barrier Lake is always a sight to see from up here.  We noticed the clouds moving in, the wind picking up and our breath in the air.  Again, we were spot on with our timing today.
As we began to descend the switchbacks we knew we were now on the last stretch to heading home and you know what that means.  I take over the reigns with your thoughts! We made a quick and fun time out of it.  

Thank you Agent-X for creating an opportunity for us where we could come together and share in acknowledging Earth Day!  We are lucky people to be able to experience what we do.  Embrace!  Respect!  Enjoy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cox Hill (attempt) April 14, 2017

I like to think that sharing a day with friends anywhere in our mountain playground is a reason for celebration!  Into that mix add a special occasion to acknowledge and the outcome looks like what I have shared below here!  This Friday may hold a unique meaning for each, but the common thread amongst us for this day was friendship and fun. 

When the shout was put out for a spring time hike to Cox Hill I jumped on board quick like a bunny.  In the grand scheme of things our route would cover a very tiny portion of the Trans Canada Trail.  The star marks today's playground just west of Calgary. 
 zoomed in on the above map to show our little scheme section
It has been two years since I visited this trail which now has a new section near the beginning, a new bridge and this new sign.  At this point we begin our climb.   We are first on the trail today which needs to be broken.  It is somewhat easy going at first but the higher we ascended, the deeper the snow became and the tougher the going.  When the going gets tough, the tough take turns at leading the way.  
the first open view
making our way
It seemed to take forever to reach the first viewpoint.  
We had a quick visit.
I wanted a high point shot here because my feeling already was we may not reach the summit of Cox Hill.  Along the trail, we stayed in the absolutely center as best we could.  One miss placed foot and down to your knee in snow you go.
We arrived at the base of the slope which would lead us to the summit.  That summit cairn was so close but yet so far.  I moved to the right to have a look around and take a photo and sunk to my hip in snow.  We watched three hikers make their way to the top but we were all in full agreement this would not be happening for us today.  We could see where a section of snow already slid.  The wind was wild and looking up at times when the wind swept the snow, white outs occurred.   It was a beautiful view from this spot looking in this direction.....
......and in this direction.
We made a retreat and hiked our way back to the larger viewpoint.  
We found some shelter then settled down to dine.  
This was my view as I savoured my tea and tuna.  
how we choose to admire the view towards Moose Mountain
(note:  my only regret today is that I do not have a full group photo to share) 
jump like a bunny
ear assisted elevation gain
It is not an easy task to get a shot when everyone is airborne.  
Even with burst I could not capture it.  
No matter what though, there is still happiness in the air!
view as we leave our play place
On this trail there is lots of time spent in the trees where there are no views.  On the way back we checkout every open spot available to us to see the sights for one last time.
one last look
It felt like spring was in the air in a full on winter location.  I felt spring in my heart but not in my step.  While making the wise choice not to go for our planned destination, I still feel fulfilled.  Thank you for putting today's plan in place and corralling us all to come along to add our cheer and color. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Grass Pass & Boundary Pine April 8, 2017

Now that life's chapter filled with decades of sitting side by side at our computers by windows with not much to view from Monday to Friday has closed, it's time to begin a new chapter of being side by side on our feet on a Saturday hiking to a place where the views are wide open and go on for as far as our eyes could see!   
We opted for Grass Pass plus a visit to the Boundary Pine.  I had in mind we could assess as we ascended and maybe include some add-ons.  We were first on the trail this morning or so we thought. We were caught up in conversation and oblivious to everything except that and the scenery.  Not long up the trail our reality check was that we were not the first here.  The prints was gigantic and could not have been any fresher.  Our casual conversation converted to hoots & hollers.
Not only did I keep my eyes peeled to the front and sides, I also checked over my shoulder.
We reached Grass Pass and carried on straight for a few minutes until Holy Cross and Mount Head came into sight.  You cannot see this as you arrive at Grass Pass so it is well worth it just to carry on.  We settled down for a snack and to put a plan in place.
The trail up to the ridge west of Grass Pass looked clear of snow so we went for our first add on.  
My friend commented that the terrain here reminded her of the terrain of her Atlantic homeland.  
We secured our high spot shot.  
meandered along the meadow
We captured some photos before settling down to dine in a sunny sheltered spot.  I said let's get a picture of us bracing against the wind.  She said let's get a yoga shot.  I am not up on yoga so she said put your arms up and hands flat (I didn't hear the part about hands together though), she also said lift your knee up (yet I missed the part about having it at a 90 degree angle).
It was time to hike over to my all time favourite tree, The Boundary Pine.  
The Boundary Pine

worthy of framing
The day was glorious.  
We had time on our side.  
We opted for another add on.  

We decided to check out the route south east of the Boundary Pine to see if conditions were favourable to safely descend.  As it was, we had that on our side too so went for it.  We chatted about "#noregrets" and "remember to breathe".  That just reinforced to enjoy everything about this day.  From colorful rocks and ground cover.... trying to be artistic.....
We descended off what I call The Boundary Pine Peninsula, hiked along side the rocky outcrop, rounded the corner and aimed for the opening in the fence.
view on the other side of the fence
this was a fun area to photograph
We spent quite a bit of time here.  Earlier my friend commented that there were not many people here on such a beautiful day in such a pretty place.  On the trails we saw four people and one dog.  I told her that is one of the reasons I enjoy this area and for views like this.
The afternoon was getting on.
We were quickly loosing elevation. 
We were leaning towards getting to the bottom and back to the car.  
more leaning
taking one last look back up
going for the last steep descent on the grassy slope towards the trembling aspens
We reached the road and hiked beside it back to the car completing an unplanned but lovely loop.  It was an enjoyable day.  With our busy lives I sure do hope down the road we can hike side by side again to a place where the views are wide open and savour a day filled with "#noregrets".