Tuesday, August 12, 2008
It's been a week since we gathered in the parking lot of the Lady of Assumption school parking lot to embark on our journey to Eiffel Lake. Even though we see each other regularly through church, as a group this was the first time GGEH had come together en mass to hike in 2008. through busy-ness and poor weather, the year 2008 has not been a year for its members to do a lot of hiking.
Eiffel Lake is a small carn located in the Valley of Ten Peaks west of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. From trailhead to destination there is a gain of 450 m, and the round trip is 19 km long.
That's the thing though; those tasks and events that distract and keep you off of the trail, the narrow road in the high country, how memorable will they be years from now? There just are some unavoidable moments -- places you need to be that prevents you from being outdoors in Creation. And it would seem that 2008 would pass into history where members of God's Green Earth Hikers would not
I was going to stay home," John Veenstra said, "I was going to study for a test that's coming up. But I am glad I didn't."
John is always a pleasure to have on the hike. Most often he is in the lead and taking us to the top of some of the peaks.
The first half of the trail was trekking on what seemed countless switchbacks. Only at a few corners were we able to look toward Moraine Lake to see its turquoise waters. As we climbed we remarked to each other how small it was becoming.
As more people are using the National Parks the risk of encountering bears is becoming more real. Legislation is now in place on how many people are required to travel through bear country. In the case of the Moraine Lake area that restriction is four in tight groups. In our party we had the Veenstra family, Dick and Ruby Klumpenhower, Ruby's friend Mee, myself and Andy and Emelie Loogman. At the trailhead we discovered a young couple who were waiting to join a group. We invitied Dan & Lizzie to hike with us.
It turned out that Dan and Lizzie were honeymooners; originally from Oxford, England, and making their way through Canada. We found it quite romantic that they chose to start their new lives together in our part of the world, and we were able to be part of it.
Rising above the treeline we feasted on views of towering peaks. Some had dangling glaciers and cols. The trail somewhat levelled out on talus slopes. We could see our target in the distance. Some of us found time to examine features and take notice of avalanche chutes.
However, we all knew that the weather office has forecasted some inclement weather in the afternoon. So we couldn't take as much time as we wanted. We pushed on to a rest area above the tarn and we had our lunch there. The view, the temperature and being with companions made our lunchtime wonderful. Edith and myself explored some rocks just to the west of us and found a marmot who was foraging, and being very patient in allowing us to take some photographs. None of these that I took turned out well. We posed for group photos, and then started our journey back.
There is not much that can be reported on this stage. Oh, there is still the sense of awe of being in this valley. It is tangible, you are here and will be even after you depart. Its not just a notation in the hiking journal. How do you hold the memories of this experience so they last, amidst the busy-ness of our daily activities. You have your photographs, but shouldn't there be more. When will you come back again. What words can you use to describe this experience to others who have never been here and may not. These are the types of thoughts that travel through your mind as you place one foot in front of the other. How about that space above you, the avalanche chute -- wouldn't that be a good place for a bear to wait on you? Before long you are sharing that though t with someone else and they are agreeing with you, and commenting on how agile bears are. You are never too far way to remember that you are in their front and backyard.
We heard a couple of booms at several points as we came down the mountain. Were they glaciers calving or something else? We arrived at the trailhead around three-thirty. We thought a signature to this trip would be to head to Lake Louise as Mee had never been there. We didn't even get out of the parking lot when a ferocious rainstorm blew in. We did make our way to Lake Louise, but it was hopeless to getting out and seeing the sights. visibility was near zero. there was hail, and the wind was almost levelling the trees. We found each other in the parking lot and decided to head for Banff for supper before returning to Calgary. The Loogmans went on to Calgary because they had a prior engagement. We had a enjoyable meal at The Keg. We got back home around eight-thirty.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The 2008 hiking season has been a strange one (for some of us). The weather hasn't been the most accommodating since June, and there has been a general busy-ness with our members that not a lot of hiking has occurred with the group. Hopefully, August will be different.
The big news is we have moved our journal over to Blogspot. We did so to make adding post and pictures of our hikes easier to do. We hope to retain some continuity from our old blogging site through retaining some of the stories and images we had over there. These will have their own articles. Please feel free to leave your comments and enquiries about you red here. Have a good hike.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
by Darryl Darwent
I was thinking today of that age-old game Rock-Scissors-Paper. Anyone who has played knows that Rock wins over all the others. I think they should include Water as a fourth element. Trekking through King Creek Canyon one only has to see what a force it can be in transforming and beautifying a landscape.
Water is the great equalizer. Without it nothing grows. So it is a life force. It is also energy. In torrents it can sweep away and create anew. And another character of water is its patience. Oh, I guess running water has no time to stop and observe the glint it brings to a rock as it passes over with the Sun high at noon. Who knows. Maybe because of the water cycle that same drop has a chance to go through the same valley again and again until it gets it right.
Does that sound too Eastern for you (and I don't mean Tor-rawna)?
King Creek Canyon is such a place where the water flows and transforms all year round. It is probably accurate to say that with each year that passes something changes. But, without repeated visits, and good study, the average hiker would miss what had occurred. Perhaps a new fissure was created due by the expanding pressure of a winter’s ice. Maybe a limestone wall collapsed or a mature tree that was just clinging to the upper rim tumbled down. Now a home for wildlife was created or lost, water is diverted or completely unaffected or it just continues to go on, over, through where it has done the same for thousands of years.
GGEH hiked though King Creek Canyon on Sunday July 29. There were ten of us in the group: the Veenstra family, Dick and Ruby Klumpenhower, Marlene Juss and her dog, Tony, Malcolm and Ginny Juss and myself. We arrived at the trailhead around ten thirty in the morning. We weren’t certain of what we could attempt in the time we had. Some thought about reaching the ridge, while others were just willing to see where we were after several hours. We quite aware that the temperatures forecasted would have a great effect on our outcome. With the range predicted to be from the upper twenties to low thirties Celsius, we had chosen the Canyon for the shelter of its wall in giving merciful shade. Any attempt to the ridge would draw us out of the blessed coolness and drain us of our energy (oh, but the views to be had!).
Leaving the trailhead, which is within hearing distance of Hwy 40, we started moving upstream. No sooner then coming around one bend we were compelled to make a creek crossing using some felled timber. This would only be one of many to come.
There was some people who managed to keep their feet dry. We won't name names. But it should be pointed out that there were a few who took it upon themselves to help others stay dry. Malcolm Juss was one who positioned himself at many crossings so that people kept their balance.
There are are also some people also like to show off. Yeah, that me on the left. We just had a great day.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
By Darryl Darwent
On July 7, 2007, Malcolm and Ginny Juss and myself ascended Mount Yamnuska. This imposing mountain is located west of Calgary, AB near Seebe on the Trans-Canada Highway. Its sheer knife-like limestone wall rises 500 feet above the Bow Valley.
The weather was overcast as we left the city, with a temperature around a 20 degrees. Upon cresting Scott's Lake Hill and looking toward our destination we could see that high cloud had settled in. We didn't know what we could expect once we got there. The forecast had stated possible thunderstorms, but the weather report from Nakiska wasn't current when we set out. We pressed on.
We arrived at the trailhead at 9:30 AM. We started our ascent through the aspen trees. We spotted many wildflowers in the grasses along the trail. Somewhere on the web, a blogger wrote that trails themselves are not too much to be admire; that the destination is the goal. I would have to disagree. I possessing knowledge of plant life and how they relate to their environment one can quickly appreciate the beauty and diversity of the trail. We often stopped to admire the harebells, lilies, brown-eyed Susan's, and wild fragrant roses; to take pictures of them. We noted dusky coloured juniper berries, horsetail growing near a creek, strawberries and even some Saskatoon's. In all you might say that June is wildflower month in Southern Alberta, and look at these specials...
Initially the written guide we had indicated our goal was a ridge. Kind of jokingly Malcolm and I teased Ginny about going to the peak. I should know Malcolm better by now, from all the hiking I have done with him that what gets discussed in the parking lot can become the objective. I have called him in the past my mountain Shepherd that I do not want. Although, earlier in the week I had discussed with others about wanting to reach a mountain top. And in reflection I now feel for Ginny who was sandwiched by these two guys who were talking something totally different than agreed upon. We took the Eastern Approach, see Topographical map that takes the hiker behind the larger mass and above a valley. By our second hour we moved past treeline and began scrambling. We had to take to handholds at several points and go through a needle-like aperture. Mostly it was an easy climb.
As we near the top, Malcolm kept encouraging us to continue. I don't know that I ever wavered. We had done The Plain of Six Glaciers a couple of years before, which I found challenging just for the sake of elevation. Even if this was just as hard, the excitement of reaching the top gave me just enough motivation to accept his urgings. It was almost with an anticlimax that at noon we came to the top and in view of outlier Y03, a spire that had been in our cross-hairs (or was it the other way around) through the whole upward journey. A party ahead of us had already been to the wall and now were making their way higher. We moved into the area they had vacated to peer over the edge. I, not being so daring as Mal, hung back a half a mete or so. It was breath-taking. Ginny would later remark that it was the "glory of God" to be where we are and to see what we were seeing. We found a nearby perch that had the Bow Valley to our backs and a shallower valley facing us. Here we ate our lunch. Malcolm feeling a bit more adventurous headed upwards along the rim to the next peak. Hereto, it appeared he had an easy go of it. Other parties came into our vicinity, including one group consisting of about six people in their mid-twenties. They followed a ledge along a parapet of stone. While on the eastern side there was steep incline of uneven rock; in front of them was nothing but air. And particularly for the women in this group they seemed to be taking a stroll in the mall back and forth along this narrow shelf.
Watching this spectacle, nearly in mid-bite of a piece of cheese, I was frozen to do anything. I feared for them. It would have taken only an updraft or a slip of a stone for peril to prevail. there would have been nothing anyone could of done. for as fast as their legs may have taken them I remain doubtful they could have been saved. The fact that they left without incident was grateful, if only for peace to restore to my being. Later, in the evening, I experienced the sense of falling over that cliff or of they doing the same when I tried to go to sleep. Very unsettling.
We stayed on top for about an hour. During our descent we came upon people making their way up. Several of whom we talked with about how bus
y the trail was and of other routes ; while with one person we were informed where scree could be encountered -- to which we humorously noted it didn't matter for we probably didn't know our scree from our schist. To our befuddlement we encountered people who had their Ipod buds in their ear, and one chap even had a radio playing out of his backpack. It seems incongruous that you would be in such peaceful circumstances and need that kind of aural stimulation.As apprentice shepherd I took t he lead going down, and in doing so nearly got us off the main trail. The strain on our knees and feet was felt during the scramble. We ambled into the treeline and found a perch on the ridge. The sun had come out and started warming us up. It would have been well to stay there longer (a nice spot for a small cabin), but we had to make our way back to the city. We arrived in the parking lot around three-thirty, somewhat spent, yet in a good way. Looking up at where we had been, holding in admiration each other for how well we diD, and rejoicing how good of a hike it was. Despite how troubled my sleep was later; this was a fantastic hike, and worth repeating, especially to go higher the next time.
Monday, July 9, 2007
(Originally published July 9, 2007 at 7:40 pm)
What an exceptional weekend! John headed out early to secure a spot at the ever popular Elkwood Campground. He ended up being in one of two sites occupied that Thursday night. We thank him for the effort in finding a most enjoyable site. After the closing assembly at Emily and Gabrielle's school the remaining Veenstra family members headed out and were welcomed by Darryl Darwent and John at campsite #89 (not 29 or 45). The camping weekend began with a great meal and as every camping weekend should, a rousing interpretive show on the Park's birds (Gabrielle contributing as one of the osprey chicks) and smores by the fire.
We were joined by our fellow hikers, Ruby and Dick Klumpenhower the next morning at the campsite. The hike we decided on was Rawson Lake, familiar to all group members except Darryl. This spectacular, fairly vertical hike (2 km) leads to a wonderfully peaceful lake, and in this early season, snow covered the trails at the top. To our great surprise and delight, near the beginning of the hike Edith heard her name being called by another hiker and was greeted by Cheryl Barnard (Emily's Grade 7 teacher). She had planned on joining us at the campground but after navigating unfamiliar roads to arrive in Kananaskis and not remembering the site #, she also chose Rawson Lake Trail to do solo! By God's hand we met at the start of the hike and were able to enjoy the day together. With the help of our 2 way radio game, we climbed to trails end and enjoyed our feast at the the side of the lake gazing at the spectacular view. At day's end, we gathered around the campsite and shared a great meal and humorous conversation. Sunday brought yet another sunny day and Starbuck's coffee once again. The weekend was capped by a scoop of ice cream from the Boulton Creek Camp store. This weekend kindled the excitement for yet more adventures to come this summer!