Monday, October 24, 2011

Rawson Lake

This hike was short on distance but long on adventure.

Here is where we hiked.

And yes that is me. This is one of the few times you will see a photo of me on the blog, but I was too cold to take more photos of the location so this will have to do.

When I woke up on Sunday morning it was raining. Rain in Calgary in October means snow in the mountains. But it was suppossed to clear up. It didn't by the time we arrived at the trailhead to begin the hike. Rawson Lake is Hike #(I'll get back to you) in WLH. It was an easy 8.8 km round trip. Or would have been an easy 8.8 km (5.4 mile) round trip if it weren't for the 4 inches of snow on the ground.

The first half was flat and the second half was a slow and steady incline. Beyond the lake, there was not much to see because of the low hanging snow clouds. Instead we were entertained? by the kamikaze birds. They must have been hungry because they would dive at us from the trees and try to grab the food right out of our hands.

I thought it would be a good idea to keep some running totals:

Miles Hiked as a Family Since Arrival in Canada: 61
Miles Hiked by J with his Scout Troop: 9.5
Mile hiked by J: 70.5
Miles Hiked in the Snow: 5.4

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Glacier National Park - Day Four

The morning of day four dawned beautiful. The park often has snow on the ground in September, but we were blessed with a glorious weekend. We had made tentative plans, but after a hike like Grinnell, you need to see how your feet feel before starting another endeavor. We were all a little tired, but they had opened up the Iceberg Lake trail. We had to go.

(Worth noting at this point that the trail had been closed due to bear activity in the area.)

Here is another thing you may not know about Glacier Park if you haven't been there. The restaurant at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn will make you a hell of hiking lunch for only $8.00 if you order the night before.

The Iceberg Lake trail is a 9.8 mile roundtrip hike with 1200 feet of very steady elevation gain. Unlike Grinnell which goes straight up before leveling off, this trail takes its time gaining height. It was a great way to stretch our legs and get our feet worked back into those boots for a second straight day.

Halfway up, you pass Ptarmigan Falls.

The real treat of this hike comes not as much from the scenery you pass on the way up, but in the destination. Shaded most of the day by the towering mountains, this little lake never quite lets winter release its hold. Even at the end of the season, small icebergs float in this glacial lake.

I chose not to dip my feet in the water, but M did. I think he might have gone swimming if we had let him.

Our adventures did not end at the destination. Determined to make this a 10 mile round trip hike so J could count it toward his BSA Hiking merit badge, we planned on visiting the Ranger Station a quarter of a mile from the trailhead. Little did we know we would have something to report.

Almost to the bottom and a little tired and quiet after almost 18 miles in two days, we rounded a corner of the trail, looked into the beautiful berry patch hidden by some trees and came face to face with a Grizzly Bear. Thankfully Mr. Bear was more interested in the berries than the family. I don't have any photos, because one thing I was not going to do was return with my camera at the ready for a quick snapshot.

These animals are huge. They are deadly. They are scary. They are beautiful, but this is nothing to take lightly. Two hikers were killed in Yellowstone by Grizzlys this year. Thankfully we knew what to do. We got the heck out of Dodge. The people behind us were treated to the bear growling at them.

People, know what to do before you go. Hike in groups. Make noise. Take bear spray.

Glacier National Park - Day Three

This is our second year in a row visiting Glacier National Park. We did not expect to visit again so soon, but our recent move to Canada gave us an opportunity we did not think we would get (next years trip is already in the planning stages by the way).

This year, not plagued by a torn muscle, my husband was able to join us on one of Glacier's best know and iconic hikes. Day three was why we did not strain ourselves on days one and two. Day Three was reserved for the Grinnell Glacier ranger guided hike.

Just a quick advertisement ... if you ever go to Glacier plan your trip well in advance, make boat reservations and take this hike. Go with the guide. History, geography, flora and fauna. You won't even need to visit a ranger station. Everything you want to know can be packed into one day. There are other great hikes in the park, but this is Glacier Park in a nutshell.

The hike to the Grinnell Glacier overlook is a 3.8 mile one way hike with 1600 feet of elevation gain. For those less than fit hikers, the ranger guided hike is the way to go, especially since 2 miles each way are cut from the trip by crossing Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine in a boat. The ranger also takes numerous breaks along the way to educate his group on the rich and diverse geography of Glacier.

We didn't need the breaks, but took them to enjoy the views.

Grinnell Glacier - up close and personal

Glacier/Waterton National Peace Park - Days One and Two

I am very tardy in posting about our trip to Glacier National Park over Labor Day weekend, but as this is my favorite place in the entire world (and having traveled to 36 of the 50 states and at least 25 countries I can say that with some security) I can't just leave it to memory.

The first day of our trip turned out to be a little disappointing. I had expected such great things from the Northern brothers of Glacier National Park and from her majestic looking hotel, The Prince of Wales.

I was seriously underwhelmed by the hotel. While beautiful on the outside ...

the inside could stand a serious renovation. I am not expecting the Fairmont - although I love a good luxury hotel - but just someone to care enough to clean the windows and add some comfortable chairs to the lobby.

We did get in two black bear sightings and a little hiking. Maybe I would have liked this side of the park more if I had hiked more, but we were saving ourselves for two days of strenuous hiking to come.

Day two got better. We went to Target! and ate at the Buffalo Cafe. If you are ever in Whitefish, Montana eat here. The Blue Cheese burger comes close to perfection. Finally we entered Glacier and followed one of the iconic red busses over the Going to the Sun Road.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Not Just Hiking - September 2011

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
Lewis is a constant favorite. I am never disappointed.

What Was She Thinking [Notes on a Scandal] by Zoe Heller
I am not sure about this one. I didn't like either/any of the characters, and I didn't "enjoy" the book. But I couldn't wait to get back to it. And I learned a new word - incubus - which I think, upon reflection, is the perfect word to describe the older character.

Until Tuesday by Luis Montalvan
An impulse pick from the library. I love Golden Retrievers. Mine is better looking than his.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
I have never read Mr. Conroy's fiction. If it is as poetic and lyrical as his description of his life in books I might have to give his other works a try. But my mind is reeling and I am lost as to where to begin now. Dylan Thomas. Tolstoy. Mitchell. Marquez. I want to read everyone one of them - for the first time or again.

The Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein
Oh how I wished I could like Mr. Tolkein's worlds and works as much as I love Mr. Lewis'. I feel like I should like them more. Maybe the movie version will help me?

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
This bored me. I read the first half and skimmed the rest. Back to the library for this one.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Page by page my feelings for this book changed. I alternately liked it and then didn't. I figured out early on who everyone was, yet I was surprised by the end and surprisingly satisfied.

Das Rheingold - Wagner
Going 'upstream" from Lewis and Tolkein.