Thursday, September 30, 2010

Marvelous Montane

It was yet another spectacular day in the Bow Valley... great temps, blue sky... and Todd and I dusted off the ol' two-wheelers and went for a spin on the Montane Traverse trail, which is on the north side of Canmore. We departed right from our house and rode up Cougar Creek to get to the trailhead.

Now I am not a mountain biker by any means, and my relic of a bicycle is concrete proof of that... but I seriously loved ever inch of the trail! It was so much fun cruising through the gorgeous fall forest, and the views we got of the Bow Valley were pretty darn nice as well.

Cher's 'mountain bike' - circa 1990's


The highlight of my day came at the west-most end of the single track portion of the ride, when I saw a black bear scrounging in the trees some 30 feet or so from the trail. This harmless scenario was so unexpected - although I'm not sure why, since it is the season after all - and in a startled flurry I pedalled past as quick as I could, yelling at the top of my lungs for Todd (who was out of sight ahead of me). What the hell good would that do?? you are wondering... and after the fact I wondered that myself... because I doubt the animal even gave me a second look, and I'm betting had I not caused such a commotion, the poor bear would never have even known we were there! Instead, he's probably laughing with his buddies right now about the freaky human he saw today. Oy.

Anyway. Aside from me overreacting to a not-anywhere-near-close-encounter with wildlife and Todd losing about his eighth pair of sunglasses, the day was mega enjoyable!


Montane Traverse Trail - our house, to Cougar Creek, to radio tower in Harvie Heights, back to our house
Time (door to door): 3-1/2 hrs
Distance: ~20km
Elevation Gain: ~250m

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grrrrrreat Grizzly!

As in 'peak', not 'bear', don't worry! Today Todd and I hiked up Grizzly Peak down in K-Country, and it was gorgeous! It has definitely made my top five favorites list. The trail is wide open right from the car, and the terrain is very cool. From the top, you can see the Kananaskis Lakes along with many, many sublime peaks. Surprisingly, the weather was a perfect +19 degrees C and there was not a cloud in the sky!


Todd bonked his head on this branch on the way up AND on the way down... D'OH!!

The hike up Grizzly Peak is short, steep and offers absolutely amazing views. It's a must-do if you want to gain elevation quickly and are not a fan of hiking in the trees. Best half-day I've spent in the Rockies in a long time!!


Grizzly Peak
Time (car to car): 3hrs 20mins
Distance: ~7km
Elevation Gain: 900m

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting my vitamin 'C' (as in camera)!

Oh, I'm having a ton of fun with my camera and the fall colors!! I don't quite know what it is, but the change of season this year seems to be much more vibrant than I remember from the past. Maybe I've just never paid full attention before??! At any rate, today I spent a couple of hours around the Quarry area in Canmore and thoroughly enjoyed the bright leaves (and the few minutes of sunshine we got!).

The place was pretty much empty and I lollygagged along, snapping nearly 150 pictures by the time I was done! Thank GAWD for digital - I'd be broke from developing costs!


The sky had some really groovy clouds going on for a while, and the multi-colored trees were kind of neat against the grey of the mountains.

I also wandered up Canmore Creek to what I think is called Four Falls? The signage is vague but the scenery is great!


It was nice to get some fresh air and stretch the legs, since I'll be in a course for the next two days. Wednesday and Thursday however, I'm looking forward to getting out and doing more hiking with friends, which is always a good thing!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Hiking the Bow Valley - highline style!

Two days and 42km later, my friend Jody and I finished what's known as the Bow Valley Highline Trail. What a spectacular trip! We did the route from west to east, and I personally think this is the best direction to do it.


On Wednesday morning, we departed (in fog - booo!!) from the Vista Lake trailhead on Hwy 93. The low clouds burned off within a few hours however, and we enjoyed lovely views as we hiked past Arnica Lake, over Arnica Summit, past both the Twin Lakes, up over Gibbon Pass, and down to the amazing Shadow Lake Lodge, which is where we stayed for the night.


Thursday morning, we headed past the gorgeous Shadow Lake towards Ball Pass Junction and then down Whistling Valley, past Haiduk Lake and up over Whistling Pass.


From the pass we dropped down to Egypt Lake and took a quick break at the shelter for some lunch.

The last leg of the trek went up over Healy Pass and down alongside Healy Creek to the Sunshine Ski Area parking lot.

Much of the route is in the trees, and due to the recent freak heavy snowfall and subsequent above zero temps, the trail was mostly muck and snow. Needless to say, I spent about 80% of the time in soaking wet footwear! Aside from poor trail conditions though, the hike was fabulous! We made it over four 2300m passes and saw nearly a dozen fantastic lakes in our 15 total hours of hiking.

Thanks so much to Jody for joining me - we shared many laughs ("Oh my goodness!!" - ask Jo about it if you see her!) and I had such a great time!! What a way to spend the first few days of fall!

Bow Valley Highline Trail - Hwy 93 to Sunshine Ski Area Parking Lot
Time (car to car): 15hrs over 2 days
Distance: 42km
Elevation Gain: ~1800m total