Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ten Sleep, Wyoming

We spent three weeks in Wyoming this past August and very much enjoyed the climbing at Ten Sleep Canyon, which lies just south of the Big Horn Range. We experienced wild fluctuations in temperatures and conditions, but overall the weather was cooperative and we enjoyed climbing, hiking and exploring this part of central Wyoming.

We stopped in Yellowstone National Park on our way to Ten Sleep and enjoyed hiking to the summit of Mt. Washburn, the highest peak in park. Wildlife was abundant and we saw buffalo, prong horn, mountain sheep and elk.

After the Mount Washburn hike, we stopped at Yellowstone Falls before getting locked in a serious traffic jam trying to get to our campground. Buffalo were swarming across the highway! After a crowded night, we toured some geothermal vents the next morning alongside Yellowstone Lake and then high-tailed it for Ten Sleep Canyon.

Upon arrival, we toured the various camping options and settled on Meadowlark Lake, a reservoir at the top of the canyon. It was peaceful and the high elevation provided cool overnight temperatures for sleeping. This became our home away from home and we enjoyed swimming and fishing in the lake as well as the wildlife that came to visit.

Our first week was extremely hot, but afternoon thunderstorms cooled things off and provided the occasional stunning rainbow. The climbing was high quality and both Elise and Pam enjoyed the many moderates the canyon had to offer.

Between climbing days, we toured the local towns. Buffalo had a great outdoor community pool and the Worland Recreation Center had an amazing water slide, both of which were popular with Elise. We viewed interesting native pictographs at Medicine Lodge, swam in the hot springs of Thermopolis and visited the Wyoming Dinosaur Museum, home to a Supersaurus specimen, one of the largest dinosaurs to ever roam the land

Hiking trails are abundant in the Big Horn Range and we explored a number of different regions. Our favourite hike was to Misty Moon Lake, where we sat and watched two bull moose feed in the lake's shallows. When one started briskly walking towards us, we made a quick retreat! During our evening return journey, we spotted many deer, elk and moose, often at very close range.

In our final week, the smoke from various fires in Montana and Washington started to affect our skies, and we experienced heavy haze and the smell of woodsmoke. But as we travelled back to the coast, we encountered serious precipitation, the likes of which we'd not seen since early in the spring. Despite our lack of enthusiasm, the forests needed the rain desperately. Squamish is slowly turning green once again.

Back home, it's now time to return to fall routines as Pam and Elise settle into work and school. Here's our nine-year-old on her first day of grade four! How time flies...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Activities

The winter of 2014-2015 was Squamish's driest on record, and the summer of 2015 has been a shocking continuation of the same conditions. We've endured lengthy heat waves, tinder dry conditions and blankets of forest fire smoke, and it's only mid-July. How the rest of this year will pan out is foremost on people's minds these days, so we're doing our best to get out while backcountry travel is still an option. We've had a few nice local trips over the last month, mostly hiking and backpacking in the mountains.

In June I went into Lake Lovely Water with my friend Casey and climbed a few peaks south of the lake. We camped on a gorgeous sand-spit below the mountains and got our first taste of the hot summer conditions that would plague the Coast later that month. We borrowed a canoe from the ACC cabin and enjoyed touring around the lake the evening before our climb.

Once the heat wave really got rolling in late June, we started looking for options to get up high and swim since the valley lakes were horribly crowded. An overnight trip to Brunswick Lake on the north end of the Howe Sound Crest Trail fit the bill perfectly. We hiked past three gorgeous lakes and enjoyed swimming and camping in cool conditions. The bugs at lake level weren't bad, but the next morning I got swarmed on my way up Mt. Hanover. Elise enjoyed building dams in the creek at the south end of the lake, but was hesitant to go for a real swim. As always, bribery did the trick!

Our most recent trip was into Garibaldi Park with another family from Squamish. We used the Helm Creek trail to approach, scrambled Helm Peak that evening and camped in the meadows afterward. It was hot, but once again alpine lakes provided some nice relief. Elise really enjoyed having a friend along to hike and play with. We'll most definitely try to do this again.

We are currently in a cooler, cloudier weather pattern and are enjoying the relief from the heat. We hope to see significant rain at some point to help with the forest fires, but there's nothing in the forecast at the moment.