Thursday, 30 August 2007

The Riddle of the Sphinx

I've been admiring what I thought was Sphinx Mountain for over a year now. Well, today we finally solved some of that mystery. Yesterday, we headed across Kootenay Lake from Balfour to Crawford Bay and headed up over Gray Pass, the AWD route to Kimberley. Near the summit of Gray Pass is a delightful little forest recreation site called Oliver Lake. We had a great sleep in the back of our Toyota and then early this morning headed off to solve the riddle of the Sphinx. The approach was pretty rough - definitely need 4WD for this road. We found the trailhead without difficulty and the trail was in much better shape than any National Park trail I've been on recently. We were on the summit of Sphinx in two hours (picture two) and then climbed the summit which was closer to the lake - the one that I had thought all this time was Sphinx. This was a great scramble and we had super views of Kootenay Lake - the arm that ends up in Creston, as well as the West Arm and Pilot Bay. From each of these summits there are endless mountain views and I'm sure we had a glimpse of St. Mary's Alpine Park - a future hiking destination we sincerely hope. We're still not sure WHY Sphinx has the name that it does but we now know that it hides behind the ridge with the great lake view and that's me on the nameless peak!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Back Into Packing

This past week Dave and I did our first backpacking trip in two summers. I've been experiencing some ankle "issues" but this summer they've been much better. We decided to try a short trip into Jonas Pass. We started at the Nigel Pass Trailhead(on the Icefields Parkway near the Columbia Icefields) around noon on Wed. and had to hike 14 km to our campground at Four Point. The river (our camp water source) is pictured on the right. The skies indicate our perfect weather for this trip. I found the 14 km was about as much as I wanted to walk with a backpack but it's a very scenic walk and not too difficult with only about a 300 m elevation gain.
The next day we hiked up to Jonas Pass with a light pack and had a wonderful ridge walk on our return. We left in the morning and we up into the pass within an hour of leaving camp. The left hand picture gives an idea of the terrain. I think Jonas Pass has to be the longest mountain pass I've ever been over - about 7km across. I love walking at the valley bottom and looking up at the mountains on either side. Most hikers carry a big backpack over to another campground and 19km of hiking is required. We went to the top of Jonas Pass and beyond, then hiked up to a ridge to see a bit of the next valley and returned to our campground at Four Point. The next day we hiked back to our car and went off to the Edmonton Fringe.
I have to say that I felt a little wimpy after this hike although I'm pleased that my ankles were so cooperative and it was so good to get back into some real wilderness once again. We met some people who were around our age who were hiking the Great Divide Trail and had left on July 11th and had only taken two days off in all that time. They were also heading to Jasper before stopping. I don't think I'm yet ready for one of these long North American cross border trails.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Kaslo Trail Blazers

During the month of August I've finally been able to give the Kaslo Trail Blazers some of my time. This is an organization that is attempting to create a fairly long trail along the Kaslo River but I'm not sure how long it will eventually be. The pictures that are part of this post are of the bridge that will some day span the river. I've been working as a painter - all of the deck boards on the bridge - 143 of them - were painted in cedar brown. The uprights, awaiting their second coat of magenta colored preservative, have not been transported to the bridge to date. Apparently the bridge will be a covered one. At a future date, hopefully in September, a big machine currently being used in the logging industry, is coming to Kaslo to lift this bridge into place across the river. I sure hope that I get to see the spectacle. Meanwhile, Scott's old RS Bridges to Babylon World Tour t-shirt has some pretty colorful speckles in support of the Trail Blazers.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Senior's Bridge

Yesterday I went to play bridge at the Nelson Senior's Centre. The cost was 25 cents! However, I was told that I could only be a guest 3 times at the Centre and then would have to take out a membership. Am I really ready for a Senior's Club membership at age 56?

My bridge partner Sue and I played the first four hands together as partners and subsequent hands were played with different partners. Generally, the level of play was quite poor and I was pleased that I could see many of the errors in discards and in defensive play. It made me feel like a "good" player. A total of 17 hands were played and with my usual, recent card luck, I got to be Declarer on 2 out of the 17 hands. My pre-emptive 3Club bid went down one and I might have been able to make it if I hadn't gambled on the finesse working. The other hand went very well and I must say it's the first time I've been raised in my opening suit (a 5-card major) when my partner only had the King in that suit. Poor defensive play by the opponents did get me to successfully win an overtrick.

The people were friendly and there wasn't too much shouting for others to be heard. I do think Seniors could benefit from the bidding boxes that Duplicate players use, however - between hearing and memory they are pretty useful reminders. We stopped for tea part way through the afternoon and for $1 we had ice cream, cookies and tea/coffee. Isn't this the biggest bargain going?

Yesterday afternoon did remind me that I really do prefer duplicate bridge and more competetive play. I'm sure that Lorne and Hugh can go home after our play and shake their heads at all my obvious errors. I always learn something during a game of bridge and yesterday was no exception. And don't you agree, economically, it's got to be the best deal in B.C.?