Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nothing but sunshine at Sunshine!

Wow, what a weekend! My friends Iris and Holly came out to Canmore, and the three of us spent a fabulous Saturday ogling the exceptional scenery of Sunshine Meadows. I honestly can't remember ever being out there - winter or otherwise - when the sky stayed true blue the entire day! We didn't see a cloud!


Rock Isle, Laryx and Grizzly Lakes were gorgeous and many different wildflowers were in bloom along all the trails. The entire area was so alive with color!


And, as an added bonus, the beautiful, distinct, pyramidal peak of Mount Assiniboine was clearly visible beyond Quartz Ridge - stellar!

On the way home, we made a quick stop at Lake Minnewanka to check out Stewart Canyon... which brought our total kilometres hiked to FIFTEEN. Impressive! The girls did great and I hope they had an enjoyable time, because I sure did!

I must say that this set of two weeks off has been amazing! Now it's back to work... a necessary evil... oh well... twenty more sleeps and it will be playtime again!! Yeah!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Okey dokey, Skoki!

I've been wanting to hike into the Skoki Valley north of Lake Louise for quite some time. Kilometres of sub-alpine meadows, dotted with lakes, surrounded by amazing rocky peaks... to me it sounds like a hiker's dream. And guess what... I found out first hand that it is!!

The weather has been really hit-and-miss here in Canmore, so on a whim, I called up Skoki Lodge on Monday to see what the chances were of staying there one night this week. Well how's my luck when the lady said they did indeed have a cancellation - Tuesday night was available! Yeah! Since Todd is still nursing his shoulder and climbing is out of the picture at the moment (read: I am dragging him hiking with me every chance I can!), we put together super-light daypacks and headed out Tuesday morning to catch the shuttle.


Yes, that's right, a shuttle. If you are a paying guest at the lodge, you get to hop in a van and cruise up the first four nasty kilometres of the Temple fire road instead of slogging up it. I tell you, that in itself was probably worth the cost of the excursion!! Then you depart from the Temple Lodge (back side of the ski hill) on a well-marked trail, and in about 30 minutes you are out in the open, enjoying stellar views!

We stopped at Deception Pass and made a scrambling attempt on Fossil Mountain... but recent snowfall made for wet, slippery scree and we encountered a snow gulley about two-thirds of the way up that I was not comfortable crossing... so we came back down and continued on to the lodge.


The lodge hosts had an awesome lunch waiting for us when we got there, so we gorged ourselves and then had to lay down and rest for awhile!


Just before supper, the skies cleared up a bit and we made a quick trip up Skoki Mountain. The views from the top are fabulous and it is definitely a must-do if you are ever there.

Then we sat around and had a couple of beers before the incredible dinner, and we met and visited with some of the other folks who were enjoying this backcountry bliss. Yesterday morning we got up and filled our bellies with an unbelievably yummy breakfast, then packed up some lunch and headed out on the return trip. Instead of travelling back the way we came in, we went east over Jones Pass and Cotton Grass Pass and came around to Baker Lake.


We stopped at Ptarmigan Lake to eat our sandwiches and Todd took a quick dip in the not-even-remotely warm water... crazy man... And once we got to Boulder Pass, we cut across to Hidden Lake and then rejoined the main trail at Halfway Hut.

In total, we covered roughly 36km and gained/lost 1500m of elevation in about 12 hours of liesurely hiking over the two days. And we didn't even get rained on - not significantly, anyway! It was fantastic!!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

More Mountain Madness!

Another stellar day was spent hiking in the Rockies... This time, Todd and I ventured out into K-Country, where we hiked to Smuts Pass and Birdwood Lakes. What an interesting trail!


It was an awesome mix of complete bushwhacking to open marshland to alpine meadows... with an amazing array of peaks in our view the entire time. The lake at the end of it all was beautiful as well!

Had there not been quite as much snow lingering on the lower slopes of Birdwood, we perhaps would have continued on to Birdwood Pass. I was a little hesitant to cross the steep-ish snow, since my feet felt very tender today and I was not as sure-footed as I usually am. All I could envision was a nasty, unexpected 'glissade' down one of the snow gulleys - and I wasn't really in the mood for that!


I'm hoping we can head back at some point and start at Burstall Pass, do the Birdwood Traverse, and end on the trail we took today. Later in August or early in September would likely be ideal.


At any rate, it was a rare, cloudless, blue-sky day and we enjoyed every minute of it! Yeah!


Smuts Pass / Birdwood Lakes
Time (car to car): 6 hours
Distance: 17km
Elevation Gain: ~820m

Thursday, July 15, 2010

High Noon on Grotto

Today I finally scrambled Grotto Mountain!! That bad boy has been taunting me ever since we got the place in Canmore, and especially since I see it daily from our back deck. But not anymore - it's been conquered! Heh heh!!

Todd and I took the northwest variation, which comes out of the trees onto the scree below the first summit, and once we were on the ridge we hiked to the true summit. We hung out there only for about twenty minutes, because even though it was 26C in the valley below, it was blustery and a bit chilly up top.


Aside from a minor descent glitch (Todd took off way ahead of me, but then I somehow got off-trail and ended up making it to the car BEFORE he did!!) and the beat-up toes (they were jamming against the ends of my shoes the entire way down), the day was fantastic and the views were amazing!


Not sure what's up for tomorrow - Todd sacked out shortly after supper this evening and probably can not be convinced to go for yet another hike... but we'll see! Temperatures are supposed to be nice again, so I definitely need to be outside.


Grotto Mountain - True Summit
Time (car to car): 6-1/2 hrs
Distance: ~10km
Elevation Gain: 1350m