When the opportunity was presented to explore down in Horsethief Canyon in Drumheller with others, I jumped on board. I have been down there twice but on my own and not keen to go in deep. I followed the forecast for a few days and it remained the same so I went prepared for desert-like degrees. That's exactly what we got hot, hot, hot! We arrived at the rim of Horsethief Canyon and quickly got our gear gathered then began some badlands business.
It has been dry down here the past number of days so the slopes were not slick which meant no slipping and sliding. First it was steep to one lower level, then more gradual to the next. There were grassy sections to saunter through.
On the lower level we caught a glimpse of the Red Deer River.
We worked our way around the badlands staying focused on the business of reaching the bottom.
We reached the bottom and then grass whacked our way along.
Now I was beginning to see sights I had not seen before.
We hiked further along, aiming for the fence.
Then we took a sharp left and made our way to the river's edge.
There was no trail but that didn't matter. We hiked, bushwhacked, and crossed wet creek beds for a kilometre or so. It was pleasant down here with a bit of a cool breeze off the water. It was approaching dining time so we were all in agreement to summit something that had a view and where we could settled down and savour some time.
But first we had to leave the river behind.
You can see my friends on the left coming through the tall shrubs.
We climbed up high onto a big bump. This was my lunch time view. On the very far left off in the distance I could see the Bleriot Ferry. It's a cable ferry that crosses the Red Deer River linking two sections of the North Dinosaur Trail. It is so dry down in Drumheller, yet the grass is very green.
This is my destination shot taken after lunch with the view that was to my back while dining.
We climbed up the backside to our dining spot then scrambled down the front side after lunch.
This desert is full of interesting sights. We saw what looked like hoodoo balancing acts. There were raggedy stumps that looked dead but were well and alive. We saw an obvious location where shooting practice took place. Of course, what is being in Drumheller without seeing fossils. Some of my friends are geologists and they explained the ins & outs of the rock formations. Soon this cactus should sport pretty blooms.
We explored on the way back. We ascended some ridges that were user friendly to hike along and to get down the other side and then there was one where we came to a dead end drop off. We did an about face and worked our way back down the way we went up and realized now we would need to follow the bottom and ascend in the vicinity where we descended a few hours prior. The route we took was pretty with vibrant colors.
sights as we meandered along the bottom
my friends finding the way
What goes down must come up! In the blistering heat of the sun, I put my head down, watched my footing and just got the job down of getting back up onto the Rim of Horsethief Canyon.
This was such a fun day shared with others who enjoy this bad ass stuff just as much as me!
I was due to go out, head west, go big and then go home! A friend was on the same page as me so we threw around a few ideas then settled on attacking Aylmer Lookout. I referred to my four go-to weather forecast sites and they were all in agreement of it being a bright & cheerful day in the Banff region. It was bright & cheerful all expect for the 54 minutes we spent at the summit. We savoured those 54 minutes and we felt cheerful & bright and thankful for our day.
We got a somewhat early start knowing this place was going to be bustling today. I was surprised how busy the parking lot was already and I believe that is a sign of what this summer will be like out there. Starting out we had the pretty morning shadows.
There's that cheerful & bright forecast!
We spied the fishermen already out in their boats.
We reached the LM8 intersection and stopped for a snack before attacking the steep trail up. It was in fine shape and only near the last intersection we encountered a small bit of snow on the trail and on the trees. It felt cool & fresh which made for ideal steep hiking conditions.
We reached the summit and it was cold. Before doing anything, I made sure to capture a summit shot with at least a tiny speck of blue in the sky. That was the most blue we would have for our summit stay.
I spread out my rain cape which we settled down on to dine. We both fit on it along with all our gear. This is a tick haven and we did every little thing possible to help with the prevention of the transportation of even one tick.
After fueling up, I played around a bit.
I played with perspective. You can figure out how big this heart actually is!
Sometimes I wonder when am I ever going to grow up!
After close to an hour at Aylmer Lookout, we packed up our gear and made our way to begin the descent. As we left the summit, the sky began to clear and there was that cheerful & bright again. We made our way straight through LM8 Campground down to the shore of Minniwanka Lake and hung out just long enough to snack and admire the scenery.
It was cheerful & bright for the last 8 kilometres.
We rounded a corner and there to our right was this herd of mountain sheep.
They stood there showing off their profile. They did not move and they did not turn their heads. My friend said they look majestic and I was in agreement. She counted seven of them and they were all males. When we passed by I looked back and they were beginning to move.
On the hike in I was looking for a crocus or two but none were to be seen. It wasn't until near the end of the switchbacks on the way back that I spotted two. They were in the prime of their life. I really liked the lighting here at this time of late, late afternoon.
At this point my "dogs were barking" (the bottoms of my feet were sore) and I just wanted to get back to the car! We decided to just keep going but I did stop for one final photo. The view was just so pretty and it was peopleless.
It felt good to have accomplished the distance and elevation today without feeling exhausted considering it has been awhile since I went big. I am grateful for having a day that was cheerful & bright in every way even if at times it was only in our minds!
I took full advantage of staying at Lake Louise and was up and out the door before sunrise. My friends were still fast asleep, so I snuck out. I purchased a coffee from the 24/7 cafe inside the Chateau, then went out for a walk. It was sprinkling a bit and there was total cloud cover. A few people were down by the Lake with their cameras set up waiting for sunrise. I worked my way back there and settled in a spot and began the wait with the others. We chatted a bit and just waited patiently.
Then it began!
a bit of blue and a dull pink hue
then the light shone on the glacier and reflected in Lake Louise
the golden glow grew bigger and brighter
the water was still and the pieces of ice showed off their reflections
the blue got bigger and bluer
the sun had risen and the day began
It was still early so I walked along the Lake shore. The open water sections were showing off pretty shades. I stood for awhile admiring Fairview Mountain. I love when I am up on top of that mountain and look forward to a couple of months down the road when it will be safe to head up.
I messaged my friends and they were up now just chatting. I went back to our room to chat a bit then we got ready and went down the hall for a wonderful and filling breakfast. I already knew I would not need a lunch when we were done here.
We checked out and then drove back to Banff and then back to Calgary. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience a weekend like we did. It was great to catch up with my childhood friend. She is on the verge of an exciting time in her life. I know when things settle down we will hit the trails together. Thank you for opening your home to us and for including us in experiencing another side of this mountain lifestyle in Banff and in Lake Louise!
We were booked in for a night at Chateau Lake Louise. I have not stayed here before. We went to the reception desk to check in and they stated we needed to go to the 7th Floor to check in. The expression displayed by my friend led me to believe we were in for something special. As it turned out we were! This was a wonderful surprise that had been arranged for my friend and for her to share with us. I opened the curtain and this was view. I captured this photograph through the large picture window in our room.
We unpacked a bit and organized our things then aimed for outside to stroll around. We did not stroll much after already completing a five hour hike early today. We picked a spot with three chairs in the private section in front of the Chateau and just sat and stared. The sun was hot, it was relaxing so we took advantage of that.
Later we went back to our suite. Another surprise had been orchestrated!
My friend poured the champagne and we made a toast before savouring the array of treats on the board. Two notes had been left for her and we got to read them. I knew I was being included in something very special. We finished the delicacies and the champagne then cleaned up before heading out our door.....
.....and down the hall for more decadent and delicious appetizers.
our private dining location
We had dinner reservations made but cancelled those when we knew our new room location included more food than we could manage anyway. We stayed here for awhile savouring everything. Later into the evening we went to the bar for a beverage before enjoying another outside stroll. Then we went to our suite and said our good nights. What a day we had! It will be memorable! Thank you to my friend and to my friend's friend for giving us this amazing opportunity!
Deja-vu, out her back door again and that is where our hike began!
Immediately the conversation began with so much to catch up on with each others life happenings. It was a treat to be hiking right from the get-go and experiencing early morning Banff without traffic and without people. We are at different places and experience and level with our hiking history but today we were equal. We enjoyed five hours of mountain air and exercise.
early morning view as we started out
a pretty picture
We crossed over the pedestrian bridge.
See our early morning reflection?
The route followed the river down low and then lead us up hill to Surprise Corner.
We hiked the switchbacks up Tunnel Mountain. This kind of walking was new to my east coast visitor. Her specialty is hours on end of walking beaches. There would be no sand between her toes today. We reached the summit and this was our view. That's Banff down below.
Yes to thumbs up!
our group summit shot
We each had our own way of expressing our accomplishment.
V for victory!
No check mark made here, X marks success!
I feel like I can fly!
We had snacks at the summit and then carried on with our morning. We hiked back down the switchbacks then veered right and followed the road for a bit. We took a trail that I did not know existed. It wound through the forest and we ended up out in a meadow on the back side of Tunnel Mountain. That's where we were, up there!
in the middle of the meadow
We had a few ups & downs along the way. This up gave us a perfect view of those canoeing down the Bow River. What a great time they must be having. The day was so delightful weather wise.
We completed a great big loop and then it was time to call it a day and head on home .
I was sorry I did not record a track for today. I built one that roughly shows the route we took. I know it is not smack on but it gives a close idea. It was close to five hours later that we arrived back home and we still had a full day ahead of us.
After cleaning up and packing up, we headed to the Banff Springs Club House for lunch. The day was gorgeous and we choose to sit outside. This was our view from the table.
enjoying the view and being with each other
After a leisurely delicious lunch, we hopped in the vehicle and headed on further west!
I could not imagine our visit would get any better!
This East Ventures West trip took on a life of its own and the plan became even sweeter when an offer was put out to come even further west and spend a few days. We jumped on board with including time in Banff National Park as part of our itinerary. We visited with our elementary school through junior high & high school friend who lives and works in Banff. She welcomed us into her home! I have not talked to her since high school days so we had loads to catch up on. How lit is it that she is also a hiker.
After dinner we walked out her back door and headed into the woods following a trail that led us to spaces I have never been. First we had a view of Tunnel Mountain from a different vantage point. She pointed to where we would be hiking to tomorrow.
Here is a reflection of the four of us with a view of Mount Rundle from a different vantage point.
evening lighting creating a pretty picture
We found our way to the Banff Springs Hotel.
Here we could see Mount Rundle, the Banff Springs Golf Course & Club House, the Bow River.
view of Tunnel Mountain
We had a beautiful evening to be out strolling.
the back side of the Banff Springs Hotel
view outside from inside the Banff Springs Hotel
We left the Hotel behind and walked down to the Bow River and the Falls.
It was calm and quiet and getting on into the evening.
I really wanted to show off what Kananaskis is all about as it is a favourite go to place of mine! I knew a picnic location that would be ideal for us to hang out at for the day. The double table spot at Wedge Pond offered the peace, the views, a spot to have a fire and hang my hammock. The double table place also offers just enough openness to create a comfort level where we could relax without checking over our shoulders ever second.
Upon arrival, we unloaded the car and moved on in. It appeared there had been a recent fire in the pit. We utilized the wood left behind by prior picnicers to get the fire started then chopped the wood we brought.
With East venturing West, I had to put a stop to the wish for a bonfire.
Her specialty is creating bonfires on beaches.
our western mountain/prairie style fire
The day got quite warm and the fire became more for ambiance than warmth.
It was tea time! I brought both my Trangia and Pocket-Rocket. The Pocket-Rocket got the water boiling in no time and we steeped our tea then savoured that with an assortment of cheeses and crackers.
Our day was all about just hanging out!
I scooted down slope to capture a shot of Wedge Pond.
It was a still day!
We relaxed, we dined, we shared stories, we hung out!
My hammock is made for two so we had plenty of room.
Late into the afternoon it clouded over and cooled off. We steeped more tea and made a toast to our day in Kananaskis before packing up and heading on home. A friend told me this site should be renamed to include my name as it seems I am taking over the spot with numerous visits lately.
I was pleased with how today turned out. Wedge Pond was deep enough into Kananaskis Country to comfortably get the feel for what this area is all about. While we have known each other for about 45 years, today we both learned even more about each other. That just makes our bond even stronger!
Earlier this year I put a shout out to Nova Scotia to see who would be keen to head west this year to spend some time with me. I ventured east four times in the past three years and was feeling that's enough for quite some time. I was happy for the quick positive reply to my shout out and began putting plans in place. The plan took on a life of its own and grew to where it would become a visit filled with more than I expected or dreamt it would be.
Just short of a six hour direct flight with a three hour time difference, we still had a large part of the day to fill after arrival. A good leg stretcher is a mere hop, skip and a jump from my place so we went for it. We strolled and chatted, getting caught up on our life happenings. We took advantage where we could and played East imitates West!
Her specialty is walking boardwalks that go over sand and protect sand dunes.
Another day we headed into city center and invested a few hours on our feet checking out the sites.
I was gifted this book which had us in a fit of laughter as we read the slang from A-Z!
A day was put aside to hike around Fish Creek Provincial Park with my former co-worker of 30 years who is also an east coaster through & through, yet of the Newfie kind. She picked out a suitable route which was just short of 8 kilometres.
They met many many years ago for a few minutes.
Today they had lots to chat about.
along the Bow River
My visitor's specialty is walking barefoot in the sand on beaches along the Northumberland Straight.
pelicans at Fish Creek Provincial Park
We were fortunate to have some blue sky for most of our walk. Being a somewhat chilly overcast day, we opted to dine restaurant style instead of along the trail. We finished our stroll along the Bow River then drove off to dine.
After a late lunch we headed from south back up north to relax then get ready for a mountain day!
O.K. I'm being funny with the title of this post! The attempt was at capturing beautiful photos of crocuses sitting in snow with ice and droplets and against a blue sky. I was successful with some of this. I went out the door early because the sky looked promising and the forecast was for some sun. The sky never did live up to the promise, the sun did not come out and I underestimated the amount of snow and the wind chill. I did cover 12.2 kilometers when my intention was 10 kms. I began to realize the pretty was not going to be as pretty as I wished for so after capturing a few photographs I then shifted focus to getting some distance in at a quick pace. The quickness would work at keeping me warm.
I see a story in each crocus!
This crocus makes me think of extra fullness in fur on animals in winter when it's cold.
This crocus looks to have extra fluffed up furry parts on the stems.
All the signs were covered in a few centimetres of snow.
Four layers on top and two on my head were not enough this morning.
Many of the crocuses showed their age with brown spots in places.
These brown spots were not due to the sun but I think due to cold & snow.
This crocus stood upright through ice & snow.
Nothing was going to get it down.
It's May and I am still using a winter frame.
It's May and this crocus is reaching peak performance.
Turning its back to protect itself against the elements!
This is my favourite crocus photo of the day.
I see it shedding a tear!
Blowing in the wind!
This is today's 12.2 kilometre route.
I never really want my outings to end but today I was so thankful to be back at my car and even more happy when I got home. I was chilled to the bone and it took time to warm up even after turning the heat up, drinking hot chocolate and wrapping myself in a blanket. My head hurt from my pigtails being too tight and it took a while for that to go away even after taking the bands off my hair. I made a good attempt at having a successful time being "out & about" but the stars cannot align every time!
It's been quite some time since I strolled through the Birth Forest, or hiked along the Nose Creek Pathway. I had no intentions of doing that today but that's where I ended up and it was the perfect morning to explore there. Originally I planned to head further away from my neighbourhood but when I looked out my window and saw how much snow had fallen through the night, I decided I was not going to be the first one to drive the roadway out to the main drag. My car would not make it. I could make it out on foot though and fortunately the Nose Creek Pathway is just short of a kilometer away out my front door.
the Birth Forest trail looked like it was lined with sparklers going off
There was over the knee deep snow in the neighbourhood to break trail through to get to where the true trail begins. Once at the park entrance there were snow drifts scattered here and there, I worked my way around them.
big snow drifts
Before heading to the Nose Creek Pathway, I meandered through the Birth Forest.
Small bushes were weighted down with lots of heavy wet snow.
The scene gave the appearance of ignited sparklers.
At the end of April I did not expect to use a winter frame but this photo is worthy of a wintry frame.
some of the older trees planted representing babies born since 2007
just enough snow just enough cold for Mother Nature to create a display
snow drifted high against the fence
The floor of the Nose Creek Pathway was somewhat protected so did not receive as much snow accumulation. It was a pretty place for my Sunday stroll. There were numerous bridges that crossed Nose Creek.
In one section along the Creek, there were many birds tucked into the side. I could see they were well into the bush that was covered with snow. They probably nestled in there late yesterday when the snow started and the wind came up and the temperature dropped.
I could see they had ice built up on their feathers.
I learned something new today! The Trans Canada Trail is incorporated into the Nose Creek Pathway. I followed this trail west for quite a distance. The signs looked fairly new. A number of years ago I had been down in this area but it looked different today. It appears a new trail has been built.
A long stretch of the Trans Canada Trail was covered in ice.
The Trail had a very small amount of elevation gain, but enough to take me high to where I could see Nose Hill off in the distance. I thought about what it might be like up there right now and if the crocuses would be covered in ice or even visible through all the snow.
I had gone far enough and it was now around time!
I had my spikes on so ice was not an issue.
This is the 8 kilometre route I covered this morning. In one spot on the left it looks like my gps skipped a beat but that was not the case, I had to do out and backs. The Trans Canada Trail took me close to another neighbourhood. Another time when the snow is gone, I will return here and walk further on the Trail to see where I end up.