Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Headwall Traverse

Anytime I can catch Kellie for a walk in the woods I feel lucky to be a part of her insanely busy schedule. When she said it was sunny in Girdwood I felt like the stars had aligned and I needed to take this unique opportunity to do the Headwall Traverse above the ski slope in G-wood, and I left the house an hour later.

Right away Max's was a fun hike, nothing like climbing up the trees and root systems...I never knew it was so steep!

Kellie Climbing Trees on Max's Mountain


Looking out at the Turnagain Arm


Beautiful views surrounded us the whole time we walked the ridge. I could see remnants of the huge cornice that overhangs glacier bowl in the winter. Definitely a hike to save for toward the end of summer.

Heading Towards the Headwall


Heading Down Toward the Quad

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Yam fries, burgers and beer ended the day in fine style.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Elks Pass to Petain Basin

It was a sad morning having to drive Lynn to the airport, our time went by way to quick. Lynn is one of my favorite people in this world, and unfortunately she moved to the E. coast for school...so hard to say goodbye. After I dropped Lynn off I went back to Kanaskis country, with my eye on a nice route for "trotting".

Me and Upper Petain Basin

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I love going places in a day where everyone else is taking 3, I love being able to cover ground and be good at estimating what my limits are. I love to guestimate and then find out if I'm right, oh the fun I've been having with my GPS!! Great day out, beautiful mountains and lakes with few people, and I totally got worked, and it felt so good.



Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lazy Day at Upper Kanaskis and Rawson Lake

After the Northover Ridge extravaganza Lynn and I woke up pretty tired. It was a beautiful sunny day, we took showers at a campground, I did some laundry in the sink then we lazed about at the lake. When we started to feel a little guilty for being lazy we hiked a short ways up to Rawson Lake. It was deep clear green and nestled perfectly beneath steep mountain walls.

Enjoy the slide show of Lynn and my pics.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Northover Ridge Loop, Kanaskis Country

Lynn and I spent an afternoon in Banff shopping and we found this hike in a guidebook at the Northface store. On paper it had all the elements of a great hike: elevation gain, ridge line walking, some distance and a short car shuttle ....we were not disappointed.

We walked down a wide valley through pine forest that smelled like cotton candy, I am totally serious. The flowers were in bloom, alpine lakes were drying up, and then we gained the ridge.

Yogi Lynn in the Mountains


If this ridge would have lasted another 10 miles I would have been in heaven. The views off both sides were spectacular and the walking was interesting in a few places....the trundling was pretty awesome too.

Lynn on the Ridge


Northover Ridge
Photo By Lynn Peterson


Eventually we left the ridge and headed back down another valley full of lakes, wildflowers and an opportunity for some more fossil hunting. It was smooth travel until we hit a seriously steep crumbly side hill traverse with some impressive exposure, it felt good that it didn't let us through easily at the end, I like hikes that just keep giving it hard, it makes the gentle wheelchair accessible trail along the lakeside feel more like a reward. I love trails.

Stream Jumping
Photo By Lynn Peterson

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Slide Show of Lynn and My Pics


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Moraine Lake and Then on to Kanaskis Country

Lynn and I started the morning drinking coffee and before we knew it all our fossils were out on display. I don't think that I have had such a cool "show and tell" experience since 1st grade. Most of the fossils that we found were similar, but this rock in the pic below was different from all the rest. I debated taking it for many reasons, the least moral of them being that it was at least 5 pounds and we still had a long way to go.

Fossil from Fossil Mountain
photo by: Lynn Peterson

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After a leisure start to the day, Lynn and I decided that drinking more coffee and mailing postcards sounded just right. When we were feeling like total sloths, and had come up with a bit of a plan, we stepped it up and went for a walk. Moraine lake is a tourist mecca. They lined the shores doing amusing things, it brought back a lot of memories from my days as a tour guide.

Moraine Lake


Lake Loise is an incredibly busy and very regulated area. It reminded me of being in Denali National Park where you have to watch a bear video, get permits ect and then take a bus into the park. This hassle is to much for me when there are so many other beautiful areas that require little effort to reach and plenty of solitude along the way. Kanaskis country is a provincial park, and although regulated and popular, much more relaxed and way less touristy.

We found an amazing picnic spot next to Lower Kanaskis lake that was perfect for guerrilla camping in the van. It is $27 to camp overnight and no one brings you coffee in the morning...

Lower Kanaskis Lake


Slide Show of Lynn and My Pics

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mt. Richardson and Fossil Mountain

After getting shut down followed by a mellow walk in the rain, Lynn and I were both highly motivated to have a longer day out. We woke up early, maybe even before the sun was officially up and started caffeinating ourselves for the day. The start of this hike also happens to be a gated road that goes up a ski resort and it just so happened a couple of employees were driving up the hill, and as they unlocked the gate I ran over to their truck and asked if they would mind giving us a ride...ten minutes later we were at least 3 miles and 500ft higher...very auspicious way to begin our day.

Once we got dropped off we followed a very nice trail through the woods and then up above treeline. We actually hemmed and hawed a little before we decided to go up Mt. Richardson. Originally we thought of doing a 3 peak link up, but confronted with steep rock and new snow it wasn't happening...plus there was a cloud on the top of the mountain....I don't like clouds.

Lynn on Mt. Richardson


A couple thousand feet up off the valley floor the air was noticeably colder and we hit the snow line. Flowers on the ridge were covered in ice, I could see my breath, and put on my gloves.

Snow Line on Mt. Richardson


By the time Lynn and I got to the top of the mountain I had everything I brought on...a puffy, vest, gortex top and bottom, hat, gloves, buff, and walking uphill...it was freaking COLD. At least we could kind of see, the clouds were definitely in and out, but the peek-a-boo effect was very pleasant.

Lynn and I on Top of Mt. Richardson


The cold temps didn't really encourage a ton of lingering so when we were good and cold we headed back down. By the time we hit the valley floor the sun was out and we were back to shorts and t-shirts....and it was only about noon since we had gotten up early and caught the ride....to early to go back to the car so we decided to head up the valley and take a look around.

After convincing Lynn that Fossil Mountain was the equivalent in height to Flat top she jumped on board to go fossil hunting and maybe tag the peak. We found thousands of fossils, so many we really mostly moseyed our way up most of the mountain, stopping every few feet to look at fossils, it was pretty much amazing.

Fossil mountain is the peak at the far end of the lake in the picture below.

Shadows Looking Across to Fossil Mountain

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We trotted most of the way back and at marveled how amazing it is that our feet can take us so far. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

Slide Show of Lynn and My Pics


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lake Agnes, The Big Beehive and Lake Louise

Lynn and I woke up in Lake Louise to a dull over cast day that smelled of fresh rain fallen, and more on the way. We decided to keep it super mellow and took a handicap accessible trail that went to Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive above Lake Louise itself.

Off the trail right on the rim of a mountain bowl is Lake Agnes, and an old tea house. I've never seen so many pesky rodents around one tea house, and here Lynn educated me on Chipmunks, squirrels and picas. We don't have chipmunks in AK, and I'm not a 100% sure if we have the same big eared picas either.

Its a Chipmunk, Not a Squirrel


Lake Agnes


Lynn Heading up to the Big Beehive


At the base of Lake Louise sits the Chateau, a big huge hotel with rooms starting at $500 a night. Super pretty spot to be rich for sure!!!

Lake Louise with the 'Chateau'

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Slide Show!
Pics by Lynn and I

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mt. Shark Attempt

The Canadian Rockies stretch in endless rows of jagged mountains, more exploration than most mortals would have time. Lynn and I had 2 guidebooks at our disposal, each filled with very appealing things to do. It was so hard to decide when the options were endless. So we agreed to drive down the road and stop when we saw something we were interested in. Funny enough in retrospect, it was Tent ridge that had caught our eye, and not Shark mountain where we actually ended up.

On our way up to Mt. Shark we passed by a Karst, in very basic terms the outflow for water that has been flowing through a limestone mountain. It was really cool to walk up a beautiful steep creek tumbling over mossy rocks and steep deadfall, and then come to an innocuous opening straight out of the rock where it made a little pool before it plunged down the incline.

A Karst


Leave it to Lynn and I to pick a peak that doesn't have a trail to the top. Instead we enjoyed some light Canadian bushwacking, and by light I mean No alders and No devils club, how lucky can a bushwhacker get?

Cool Mushroom


After a brief detour up and over the ridge, we turned ourselves around and headed up. The going was really good over treeline, for at least 500 ft. Then it got steeper, and steeper and more exposed....felt flashbacks of panic to the day before. On this peak though there was no other way down than the way up, and we still only had our running shoes and no rope or helmet.

Nice to Be above Treeline


Then we got past the "gently slabby ridge" and were confronted with the "brief section of exposure" ie death fall while soloing. Its been a long time since I've felt so much exposure, I didn't want it, it wasn't enjoyable. Spanked again!

Lynn Heading Up

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After we hiked out we got in the van and drove up to Lake Louise. Its a small town nestled in spectacular mountains with a lake that could be described as an energized seafoam green with the opaqueness of glacial silt.

Slide Show of Lynn and My Pics


Friday, August 20, 2010

Ha Ling Peak and Mt. Lawerence Grassi

The day started out innocently enough, drinking coffee with talks of a mellow first day out in the Canadian rockies. Ha Ling peak is an aesthetic mountain, with one side being a shear vertical drop, and the other a much more gentle rocky slope. It was minutes from where we had "camped" and a natural choice.

Lynn and I on Top of Ha Ling Peak with Mt Lawerence Grassi in the Background


It seemed natural to continue down the ridge and go up the adjacent peak Mt. Lawerence Grassi. The author of the guide book, 'Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies' mentioned that the route was obvious to him, albeit difficult route finding according to other parties. All one had to do was follow down sloping ledges. Seemed simple enough to me, I consider myself pretty decent at route finding...

Me Heading Down Ha Ling's Ridge
Photo By: Lynn Peterson


The route definitely took some finding, I wasn't sure what was considered game on in a guide book without a rope. The first steep section was loose but doable. After another steep spot we really didn't want to down climb and figured it was worth going higher. It was kind of like a layer cake, steep limestone cliffs interspersed with bands of scree. Then came the point where down climbing was a last resort and joked about having to call Canadian rescue on our first day out...

The Final Sneak Through


Suddenly I wasn't really having fun anymore, I was scared and anxious. We had one more layer in the cake and if there wasn't a frosting ramp to the top, we were looking at a scary retreat. The last possible place to sneak through to the ridge was revealed and apparently we were on route. I find it funny that at the most obvious place on the route we found a cairn, the irony being there were no cairns on this route, and it was only obvious if you wanted to solo steep, loose rock.

Lynn on Top Of Mt. Lawerence Grassi

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Once we gained the ridge it was smooth sailing to the top. There we enjoyed the hazy view and smells of forest fire, laughing about our first "mellow day out". I was happy to be alive.

Slide of Both Lynn and Sherrie's Pictures


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Paradise Valley Out

I'll never forget the look of pure joy on George Annes face as the sun broke from the clouds and her uninhibited compulsion to lift up her shirt and exclaim with glee something to the effect of, "sun on my titties" Her smile was radiant. She also told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to post that pic on the blog, but I hope she doesn't mind the story, the memory still makes me smile.

Paradise Valley Camp


Once the sun went away it seemed time to leave our beautiful campsite in Paradise valley and commense with the unpleasant side hill back to the main crow pass trail.

The Side Hill of Flowery Steepness


Crow Pass Cabin


Signs of Fall

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This was a fantastic trip for many reasons, but one of my most favorite was how leisurely we could be and still be active. It was natural to savor our coffee over a couple hours instead of eating breakfast and hitting the trail. Don't get me wrong I can be as motivated and quick to leave, but I also LOVE to be lazy sometimes, especially with good friends is beautiful places.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Paradise Valley to Bear Lake

Although it was no longer actively raining when we woke up, the grey overcast day only left us partially inspired for great things. There are lots of possibilites of loops or new valley wanderings, but we decided to just do a day trip and stay the night again in paradise.

George Anne Looking Back Down Paradise Valley


So we hiked to the end of the valley, and up to the top of the pass. Here we were torn about whether to follow the ridge to the peak, or to go down the steep scree and across another valley to Grizzly bear lakes.

Top of the Ridge


In the end the ridgeline was more appealing,so we scrambled down it a fair ways, but it was remarkably steep and more exposed than I like. The combination of loose rock over polished smoothe rock makes my self preservation instinct rise up and anxiety ensues...Then the rain came back and it was now wet, steep, loose and exposed, we turned around and I have no regrets.

Spicy Ridgeline
Photo by: GeorgeAnne Sprinkle


Although it was raining, we both felt like we had some more walking inside us, so we dropped over the other side into a barren moonscape of glacial morraine. The plants have yet to claim this side, and only close to Grizzly bear lake did it get green again.

Grizzly Bear Lake

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A lovely walk with a great friend, couldn't think of a better way to spend a rainy day.

Enjoy the Slideshow!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crow Pass to Paradise...Valley that is...

George Anne and I weren't really sure where we were going until we actually got in the car. With all the crappy rain we were unsure of where had the most potential to be dry. In the end we decided the state was covered in clouds and we weren't going to drive more than 2 hours north or south. George Anne said she had a good feeling about Girdwood and we were sick of waffling, so we settled on Crow Pass, with intentions of doing great things, or staying in the hut and drinking crown royal.

George Anne and I


Checking out the Waterfall Canyon


We made it to the cabin having salutary libations while we enjoyed scenic vistas, and might have stayed there if there wasn't already a euro occupation and because we were having a great time enjoying the "vista" stops.

The first time I hiked crow pass was 15 years ago, and I've probably done it 20 times since, but this was the first time I was shocked at how scrawny the toe of the glacier had become.

The Toe of the Raven Glacier


The side hill traverse to gain Paradise valley epitomized all I hate about side hilling, but it was thankfully relatively short. Paradise valley is aptly named, the views were impressive and the lichen padded flat tundra next to the babbling brook added comfort and ambiance.

George Anne Heading up Clear Creek

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We made camp, ate dinner and went to sleep with thoughts of the bear we had just seen crossing the slope below us.

Enjoy the slide show!