Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer in the Rockies - Heading Home

Our summer trip has come to an end. We've been very lucky with the weather and only had a couple of days of rain during the month of August. We've climbed lots, hiked lots and enjoyed spending time in a different and dramatic area. During our last week, we did two more hikes of note: the first was Ha-Ling and the second was to Lake Agnus above Lake Louise. Elise is developing good endurance for longer hikes, although there can still be a fair amount of whining to manage. In this area, Pam and I still need practice.

The first of the two hikes was Ha-Ling, a major peak above Canmore. Nothing in this area is small, and even the "smallish" peaks are still significantly huge. This hike was somewhat equivalent to hiking the Squamish Chief, although the trail was much more difficult to manage, even in the forest. The surface was loose pebbles, and this caused difficulty with footing. As you can see in this photo, the upper portion of the peak is entirely exposed with no vegetation. One side of the mountain is dramatically steep, while the other is slabby and very loose - not good terrain for walking!

It was a hot day, and we had to really coax Elise to continue upward. This is a view of the summit ridge. We'd been hiking for close to two hours at this point.

View looking away from the summit. We got a beautiful day. Normally there could be high winds on an exposed ridge like this, or even lightning during summer thunderstorms, but we got neither.

Many climbers scale the steeper side of the mountain. This warning is for the hundreds of hikers that lounge around the summit, which could create a great hazard to the climbers below if they weren't careful with the loose rubble underfoot.

On the summit, looking east.

The Bow Valley, looking eastward toward Calgary.

Coming down. We agreed that the descent was almost as arduous as the ascent due to the looseness of the trail surface. I ended up holding Elise's hand most of the way, which - let me tell you - is not that easy. It really adds to your personal fatigue having a 5-year-old constantly tugging at your arm.

Pam uses ski poles because of her knees. Many hikers around here do the same, which is probably very smart from both a balance and knee longevity standpoint.

The second hike was to Lake Agnus, a small glacially-fed lake about Lake Louise. It was a much more pleasant walk on a good surface, although there was still a reasonable amount of elevation gain - 400 m! We took our time and were rewarded with another perfect day and great scenery at the tea house. We enjoyed wading in the lake, taking in the scenery, and feasting on treats we'd purchased at the bakery in town before we left!

The tea house on the north end of the lake. The water was cold...

Once again, wildflowers were everywhere. This is Indian Paintbrush.

The views back down toward Lake Louise were dramatic.

Near the tea house, we interacted with numerous small critters, keen for some of our snacks. These are small ground squirrels, that have markings much like a chipmunk. It all started with them eating out of our hands...

Next, I lay down and let them eat off my chest. Elise thought this was hilarious, and decided she wanted to try! The decision...

The dive for the peanut...

Success! Elise was simply screeching with laughter.

If they'll eat off your chest, why not try your head? I got them warmed up and Elise decided she'd try this one too, and it worked! Greedy little buggers...

We have one or two more days of climbing before we start the drive home. We plan to go to Vancouver Island for the Labour Day weekend and then ease back into a fall routine of work and weekends off. Watch for a post of our activities in Tofino!


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