Friday, October 06, 2017

canadian adventure - banff national park: two jack lake, lake minnewanka, tim hortons, fireside path, corys pass, edith pass and a few hallelujahs - thank you jesus'

This was a big day, as Joe let me sleep in until 5:15am.  A whole extra 45 minutes of glorious sleep.  BUT I think it was to prepare me for what was about to happen later in the day... 

Two Jack Lake

Sunrise.  sort of?

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Hanging with the other photogs.  Although, we believe they were taking a group photography class...

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Lake Minnewanka - largest lake in Alberta

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Quick stop at Tim Horton's for coffee and donuts before torture our hiking adventure

We arrived at our hiking destination (Fireside path) around 8am and there were no other cars in the parking lot.  Yes another day when the flashback of the front desk telling us as long as there are 4-5 cars in the lot you will probably be fine.  We waited for about 30 minutes and we were still the ONLY car there....  BUT then two park rangers showed up to chop down some trees on the path.

We stopped at the trail post to read the details of the hike and as I was reading: okay I can handle that, okay I guess I'll be alright, Joe are you really sure about this...?  Joe, come on Amanda it's fine let's go.

NOTE: the DSLR didn't hardly come out for this particular hike due to the terrain, the weather and my stress level.   Maybe a total of 4 images were made by the DSLR.

Cory and Edith Pass - Banff

The start of the terrain was 
a beautiful knoll with what I believe were tall white aspen trees (ahead of me in image).

A quick pause with the very steep hiking to lose some layers.

Within a minute the clouds thickened.

then cleared out...

at this point we knew that the weather could change at the drop of a hat and it did...

a little steep.  the struggle is real.

starting to climb into fresh powder in the higher altitudes

We ran into three other hikers on a break and they were in their 70's!  They had been hiking together annually since the 60's, as they have aged some of their fellow hikers had petered out due to aging (as we were told)...  Joe always thinks it's depressing that they can keep up with us (or us keep up with them?).  But to me, NO that is encouraging!  That could be us in our 70's - Lord willing!

this is when I was still okay (not sour), even though there was incident earlier when Joe tried to take us the wrong direction and hug the edge of a cliff to hike.  No thanks!

A bit after this we took a small break.  We were going to stop and eat lunch, but it was too cold to stop.  Our 70 year old friends caught up to us along with another couple.  Probably around our age or a decade younger.  Who knows...  We stopped and chatted with everyone for a few minutes, but then it was time for us to continue onward as the trail blazers.  The rest of the hikers didn't follow right away.

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I think we both thought at this point we were trekking downwards back towards the finish, but surprise we were wrong!  We were headed clear around the backside of the mountain.   I think the steepness of the beginning of the hike our estimate of distance was really off.  

As we started to go around we had to put more layers back on as it was getting colder and snow started to fall...

we both apparently wanted a photo at the same spot

Clouds, clouds and more clouds...  I'm sure the views for this hike would have been even more spectacular on a sunny day.

snow getting a little heavier...

Here we were going into the thick cloud cover, snow falling and then hiked into new heavier fresh snow.  Once we got between the pass we honestly couldn't tell where the trail was anymore.  Assuming this point was the Gargoyle Valley trail which was quite iffy.  The terrain change significantly to barren.  SNOW.  Were we to go left or right?  Neither of us knew....  So we guessed.

The decent down was loose gravel and you can almost glissade down the pea-sized rocks.  Going through the pass and down the rocky snow covered way I paused and turned around (vividly in my head still) to see if anyone was behind us.  You could hardly see anything due to the clouds, snow and everything well was white.  So I questioned DO WE TURN AROUND and go back???  BUT then we saw the young couple a ways behind us, so we figured we are sort of together.  So onward we went.

At this point there were no photos taken and a lot of grumble grumble from me as I was like holy crap where are we?  Please Lord do not let us get lost...  It's cold, snowing, we have no idea where we are, I might freeze to death or a bear might eat me and we have NO cell service.

The pea-sized gravel, eventually gave way to a large boulder field.  Precarious. BUT WE FINALLY after who knows how many miles found trail markers AND by trail markers I mean cairns.  If you don't know, cairns are they a small pyramid stacks of rocks.  This indicates that someone was there before you, usually noting it's part of the trail.  WHY not put a real sign up people?  I will say this was the poorest marked trail we have ever been on.  

totally sour in this image

BUT to no avail, we finally found the dirt trail.  We also noticed that the young couple started going down the wrong side of the boulder area...  We waited a few minutes to see what was going on and Joe walked back to holler at them and let them know they were going the wrong direction.  We then waited a few minutes for them to get over to us so they knew where we were due to visibility.  They seemed grateful!

Eventually we headed back into thick woods (for miles) until we hit Edith Pass and back to Cory Pass.  At one point I stopped, just to stop and slipped and fell on my butt and wrist.  Thanks mud and thank you resort for having our own washer and dryer!

The young couple stayed behind us for a long while since we seemed to know where we were going.  They also were NOT dressed appropriately either.  I would have been freezing if I were them!  Once we found the next trail marker they high tailed it...  Mind you we MAY have seen 2 real trail markers the entire hike.

The snow, then turned to sleet and then ended in rain.  At this point I was just over it.  BUT was throughly enjoying the strong scent of pine Christmas.

When we made it back to our car, it was one of those moments you just want to hug the ground.  I'm pretty sure a few Hallelujahs and thank you Jesus' came out of my mouth.

Later I had read that this particular hike is touted as one of Banff's most strenuous hikes.  With 3300 feet gain in about 3 miles.  NO WONDER Joe didn't tell me what was about to happen, otherwise I'm not sure I would have wanted to do it.   In all honesty the hike itself was fine, but I think if there would have been more trail markers (when the trails were not defined) I would have enjoyed the hike a bit more.  A peace of mind that we were going in the right direction.

Side note: Some how this was Joe's favorite day and I'm thinking he enjoyed the bits of me freaking out throughout the hike.

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