Monday, May 17, 2021

Lusk Pass Trail

May is a challenging time for hiking in Alberta. With the thawing a number of trails are avalanche risks.  Other trails are still closed for the winter season.  Others are newly closed due to awakening bears.  Some are too muddy or still icy.  And yet others are simply too steep for our family to tackle (this one has nothing to do with the season).
This weekend was forecasted for spectacular weather. Sunny and 70s (20s for the Celsius crowd). We decided to hit the trail on a hike that I hadn't even heard of before Terry found it and sent it to me to check out.  About 8km of comparatively flat*, dry terrain with mountain views. Sure, sign me up!
It's a loop, so we had first to decide which way to go.  We chose clockwise, although in hindsight I would have done it the other way - when going counterclockwise you run through the destroyed-by-fire part first and have the prettier part to look forward to.  Early on in the hike we saw the first wildflowers of spring.  We are looking forward to the wildflower season in the Rockies. 
We think we've realized that the high elevation is part of why the sun feels hotter here. I mean we started dragging at 70 degrees. There were a number of shady spots in the first part of the hike where snow still lay on the ground, so we grabbed handfuls to melt along our necks and arms to cool off. I tried throwing a snowball but it disintegrated before reaching its target.

   * Terry has requested the disclaimer that the hike had about 300m (1000feet) of elevation so it was far from flat, but that's flat for Alberta and especially compared to what we've been trying to hike lately.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Ha Ling solo adventure

Disclaimer: Terry neither took nor edited these photos.

After last week's aborted attempt to hike Wasootch Ridge, I realized I needed conditioning - more hiking. Everyone else in the family had other plans for the day, so over the weekend I took myself to Ha Ling. First impression: wow it seems like the road to nowhere as you head towards. I worried the potholes would break the car. Second impression: I was surprised and delighted to find a parking spot in the parking lot. Third impression: nobody should hike in the mountains in April without decent ice cleats and yet a full half of my fellow travelers lacked them. As some careened down steep parts I feared I'd be knocked over like a bowling pin.

 This hike completely  kicked my behind - I played a guessing game about which body parts would be sore the next day. (Spoiler: more parts than I expected)  It was steep and challenging. All the scree at the top made me fear falling off the mountainside. During the hike, all the nice firm ice the cleats could dig into warmed up and became slush that provided no traction. The downhill was nearly as treacherous as the uphill was. It was AMAZING.

At the top, I was sitting on the rock ledge you can see on the bottom right of the above photo. The snow you see just above it is a relatively thin icing, the other side is just a massive cliff.

These are the mountains I could see during the entire hike once I got above the tree line.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Lake Louise, Take Two

 In deciding where we will ski all of next winter, we realized that a mountain we'd visited once, on one of the coldest days in a cold place, and where we'd finished on a really sour note - was not the way to make an informed decision.  So mid-March we tried again. As we pulled into the parking lot (the third lot entrance, meaning WAAAY to the back) we realized this would be nothing like what we'd experienced before.

It was so much warmer this time that Zoltan frequently complained of overheating. We discussed getting waterproof rain pants he could wear instead of his snowpants for warmer weather skiing.  Even with a much more crowded park we never waited more than 5 minutes to get on a lift. This could definitely be because most folks come to LL to ski the black diamonds, whereas we emphatically did not. However, we did not notice long lines at the other lifts, so perhaps not.

Even Alex enjoyed herself, and she's been a pill on ski trips since she came out of quarantine. I'm whispering this to avoid her notice in hopes she continues to enjoy skiing. 

I still think I prefer Sunshine, with its much wider range of greens and blues (recognizing the kids will likely move to blacks after a few more lessons) and its super fun powder. At this point, what we do next year is anyone's guess!