Saturday, 24 July 2010

Fourth Time Lucky

I've headed up towards Texas Peak 4 times, 3 in the summer and once in the winter. This is me at the summit with some impressive peaks of the Goat Range in the background. This isn't a tough hike, especially when we were able to drive a good bit of the road. There's a lovely ridge walk involved - the flowers are glorious today. The only complaint I have is the ridge is too short! I climbed up here with 3 of Dave's hiking buddies, plus Dave, and since Gerald is nursing a game leg I was almost able to keep up with him (on the uphill)! The "boys" all headed over to Paddy Peak for their second summit, which was pretty much a scramble. I went back to the lower peak (which I'd achieved last summer) and spent an hour reading a book. I headed downhill when I figured the guys were getting close and of course most of them beat me down the hill. A great day - thanks to Dave, Gerald, Stu and Dan for slowing down enough for me to get to TX Peak!

Friday, 23 July 2010

#3: Mt. Jardine

Here's our group on the summit of Mt. Jardine - it doesn't look like much of a summit and I'm not in the picture but I did take the photo. We started off from the trailhead at 9 a.m. with a warning that this might not even be a trail. We'd been told that it could be a bushwhack up to one of the old original mines that opened up the area. Well, we found a trail right off the forest service road and it was a darn good trail. I never dreamed I'd get a chance to do another summit but we were at the top within four hours. I'd seen this summit from Mt. Schroeder two weeks prior to this hike and this mountain is supposed to be 100m higher. There was enough deadfall on this trail that I did count the trees across the trail - there were 88 of them but they weren't nearly as onerous as the ones on MacBeth Icefield Trail in 2008 (see August, 2008 115 Deadfalls on the Trail). Thanks to Steve, Tom and Jane for their encouragement.

My next trick is to hopefully get up Mt. Loki, the highest peak in this area, and named for the Norse god of Mischief. It's still got a fair bit of snow on the ridge so we're watching it.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Accomplishment #2: Mt. Brennan

Mt. Brennan is one of the "big peaks" around here, (1550 m of elevation gain) but it's a pretty easy climb, at least if you get to walk over a snowfield. We got an early start and were at the trailhead by 6:15 a.m. - that was great because the entire slope up to Lyle Lakes (600m of elevation gain) was entirely in shade. We reached the lakes which were still mostly frozen and in spite of having breakfast in the snow, I still managed to find a tick on my pants! We then hiked up the gully via snow - in fact, the rest of the way we simply walked over a huge snowfield. It was a pretty hot day and even Dave got a bit tired but he was the one kicking steps most of the way. All I had to do was follow the leader! The picture here is the view toward Mt. Whitewater and the peaks beyond. It's a 360 view and I think on a spectacularly clear day you could see The Rockies. The descent was a quick heels in run down the slopes. Luckily, we postholed very little on the entire trip. Thanks to Dave and Stu for helping me get up this mountain.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Accomplishment #1

The hiking season started in earnest for me on June 30th. That was the day that I climbed Mt. Schroeder - yeah, that's me on the peak with a friend in the background. I look a little stooped and told my kids I was looking as if I was pushing 70. By the time I got down, I felt it! We had a gorgeous day for a big hike - it turned out to be not all that warm. We had a two hour bushwhack through some pretty nasty stuff that included devil's club (ask a tree planter to tell you about it!) at the lower elevation and rhodos and huckleberries to walk through. We got to the snowfield in a couple of hours. That was the easy part. The descent over the snow was great but we had a long (to me) downclimb on the edge of one snowfield. I had two falls - learned how to use my iceaxe! - and got some good scrapes on my forearm on the second one. We hiked out to a forest service road which made it all downhill from there with no big logs to walk over. I felt that I had accomplished something that day.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Beyond Bjirkness

We headed up to the clearcut where we ski in winter to explore beyond the cutblock. There's a nice looking peak up there on those days that we get to see it. The road up to the "ski hill" was in pretty good shape; logging in the winter prevented us from making much use of this area this past winter. We walked through the cutblock (so much easier on skis!) and then did a bit of a bushwhack up to the top of the hill. It was pretty easy bushwhacking and there were no bugs which was really different from the hot day I was there two years ago. We had to descend and climb another short hill and from there we had a great view of Lower Fletcher Lake. However, the way ahead was VERY vertical through the trees and beyond that were pretty steep cliffs so we're not going to get to the top by that route. A cloudy day, and alas, I forgot my camera so no photo. Nice to be in the woods and up high and we did discover a nice meadowy bit that had a few avalanche lilies.

Friday, 9 July 2010

CBC North

This was another building that served as an icon for me in my trip north. This is CBC North. It's a pretty ugly building in a 1960-70's sort of way, but I remember the old days when Gzowski would comment on working out of that studio. A big calling card for me to go to the north was reading Elizabeth Hay's Late Nights On Air which I reread while visiting Yellowknife. That book is totally linked to this building. Reading it for the second time, I was reminded once again about what a great book it is and how it touches on so many issues of the Canadian North. I really hope someone decides to nominate it for Canada Reads in 2011. It truly is a book that all Canadians "should" read.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Yellowknife Legislature

The legislature in Yellowknife is well worth a visit. Almost everything about the building has some sort of symbol, including the shape of it. I love the way it snuggles into the landscape along Frame Lake, pictured here. Another benefit of a tour is that visitors are allowed into the room where more informal discussions take place. In this room about a dozen A.Y. Jackson paintings are arranged around the room created during his visits to the north in the 1950's, I believe. The round room and the round building and the round area where laws are made are symbolic of northern dwellings, the igloo and the tipi, and they allow for round table discussion. Political parties don't exist and decisions are made by consensus. The building itself has plenty of zinc on it, easily obtainable in the North, polar bear rugs grace the legislature and the mace has diamonds on it to illustrate the new wealth of the north. I know that there's plenty of disagreement about political decisions made throughout the North and a legislature is only going to be as good as the people in it, but I think we Southerners could learn a lot from the model of the North.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Prince of Wales Museum, Yellowknife

This was one of my favorite visitor locations in Yellowknife. It fits in so nicely with its surroundings and is a perfect size for a museum, in my opinion. It's a bit odd to find a museum named after the Prince of Wales, and to observe a huge portrait of the current Prince posing just like all of his 17th and 18th century ancestors. It'll be worth a visit when William becomes Prince of Wales!

I loved the huge wall map of the Mackenzie River with photos highlighting various places along its route. I had hoped to see the beginning of the river, but there's a couple of lakes that need to be traversed out of Great Slave Lake before the Mackenzie really begins. I'm not sure where "mile 0" is located. The museum is a place you can visit in a couple of comfortable hours and the restaurant looks out to a portion of rocky shelves and another lake.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Morning Skies

I loved the skies of the NWT. This picture was taken at 3:30 a.m. on June 20 - almost time for the solstice. As it turned out, those "red skies at morning", did bring us a few hours of rain beginning about 7:30 a.m. On the night of the 21st, I made it up to Pilot's Monument with a group of about a dozen others, all watching the sun disappear. The mosquitoes were fierce. The sun set at 11:40 p.m. and would rise at 3:30 a.m. It really never gets dark at this time of year. I preferred this picture of the fog on River Lake in the NWT and the sunrise on a date close to solstice.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Oh Canada!

Happy Canada Day, Readers! I plan to write more about the Yellowknife trip (forgot to publish it the other day!) but today belongs to Canada. This flag picture was taken at the cabin I stayed at in the NWT, and was probably the most "Canadian" scene I'd seen in a long time - the view from the cabin included the flag, a serene northern leg in muskeg style country, with a loon swimming just a few meters away from the landing spot.

Yesterday, I had a pre-Canada Day walk up Mt. Schroeder and I need to devote a separate post to that experience. It was another very Canadian landscape and very dramatic!

Today I'm off to do a 10 km walk which is a fundraiser for people who need help deferring transportation and accommodation costs when staying in the distant hospitals around here. Pretty Canadian, eh?