Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Vacation

We are midway through our summer trip to the Canadian Rockies. We've had a nice time so far and are enjoying the beautiful surroundings. We started the trip with a visit to the Kootenays to see my family. The drive was pleasant and we stopped at Manning Park for a lunch break. The ground squirrels were very hungry and VERY tame. They literally swarmed us and Elise got absolutely hysterical when one "pooped" on my lap. I guess I squeezed it out of him...

Later we stopped at Christina Lake, about one hour from Salmo, to have a refreshing dip after the long drive. It was busy.

Elise was very excited to visit Salmo again and enjoyed hunting for butterflies in the fields around the farm. Here she is going for a walk with Noel's daughter, Jennifer.

The next morning, we went fishing on the lake near the farm. It was HOT. I managed to catch a pretty large squaw-fish, and we caught a few sun-fish. Elise seemed rather nervous in the canoe for some reason, and was happy to return to shore. That's me swimming in the lake beyond the boat launch.

Gelato with Grandma.

The next day was Pam's birthday, and we visited a new climbing area called Waterline in Castlegar. We went very early to beat the summer heat and had a surprisingly nice time. The cliffs reminded me a lot of Skaha in Penticton.

While we were climbing, a small bird literally dropped out of the sky and died right in front of us. This had never happened to me before and it felt like some kind of bad omen.

The road alongside the cliff area. The approach was short and pleasant.

The next day, we visited my father in Trail. It was warm, so we walked down to the Sunningdale park on the Columbia River and all enjoyed wading and swimming in the late afternoon sun. The water was COLD. Afterwards, we went back to his house and had a nice birthday dinner (and desert) for Pam.

The next day we left for the Rockies. Jewel did not want us to leave!

Ha Ling above Canmore in the Canadian Rockies.

Our first three nights were spent camping in the Bow River Campground, a few kilometres east of Canmore. The bugs were a little bad, and this made the campfire less than relaxing.

We had come to climb, and did just that during our first week. This is Elise and Pam hanging out at the Upper Wall at Acephale. Elise hiked all the way to the crag a few times - an uphill walk of about one hour.

The Upper Wall at Acephale.

Derek Galloway. He's the author of our latest book, Bow Valley Sport, which has been well received.

Petroglyphs at the Grassi lakes climbing area, just above Canmore. We visited this crag with our friend from Vancouver, Jeff Thomson, and has son Hamish. It was a nice afternoon.

Elise cranking up the walls at Grassi Lakes. She did four top-rope climbs up to 5.7, all without the help of the rope.

Upper Wall at Acephale. This is Kat, a friend we'd climbed with in Turkey. It was a surprise to see her there!


Tony on "Sweet Thing", 5.13c. I managed to redpoint this route after a few days of work, which was a big step forward in regards to my shoulder injury. The injury has been temperamental on this trip, but I keep doing more and more, which is encouraging I guess. We'll see what happens...

We bought some special glasses for belaying. These allow the climber on the ground to watch the climber on the cliff above without looking up. This takes A LOT of pressure off your neck, which is a good thing. They weren't cheap, though. Elise thinks they are crazy...

Elise with our friend Todd Guyn at Acephale. Todd is a guide who works for Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) whom I've known for many years. I did my first climbing trips to Europe with Todd and we've stayed in touch and climbed together often. Elise had fun with him.

The guidebook author, Derek, and his partner, Michelle, organized a pancake breakfast. Here we are relaxing with them and their friend Joel (and his kids). It was a nice morning.

We did the hike up to Sulphur Mountain again. I carried Elise most of the way, but she hiked the last quarter.

View of the Banff Springs hotel from the summit of Sulphur Mountain.

The gondola ride back down was the highlight.

Next ,we moved into our accommodation. Our friends, Dale and Nancy Robothan, hooked us up with their neighbours, who were going away on vacation. We are house sitting in a Canmore MANSION. This is far and away the nicest accommodation we've ever had on a trip. And it's FREE! The house has everything, including bikes, canoes, a trampoline and a playhouse. Elise is in heaven... She likes to go across the street and play with Isaac, Dale and Nancy's five-year-old son.

They have a cat named Pine Cone. He's super friendly. Here he is helping me work on my latest book project in the office.

Elise sliding down the park's embankment on a sheet of cardboard. She had great fun doing this with Isaac one afternoon.

We did a hike to Consolation Lake near Moraine Lake (Lake Louise area). It was a perfect hike for a low-key day.

Because of grizzly bears, you are not allowed to hike in the Moraine Lake area without being in a group of four and carrying bear spray. We sat at the trailhead for 15 minutes until a couple from New York came be. We joined forces for the hike and enjoyed their company.

The wildflowers were beautiful. This is Indian Paintbrush, which we saw in many different colours, including pink and white.

Elise relaxing on a petrified beach (really!) beside the trail.

Consolation Lake.

Elise and I waded in the river that flowed out of the lake. It was COLD! Can you tell?

Fossils beside the trail.

Morain Lake with the Valley of the Ten Peaks in behind. This is a beautiful spot.

Elise and I "log walking" across the creek that flows out of Moraine Lake. She likes to live dangerously sometimes!

The Tower of Babel near the end of Morain Lake. This tower is adjacent to Mt. Bable, both of which are popular climbing objectives.

A few days ago, we went to the Calgary Zoo before visiting Derek and Michelle for dinner at their condo in Cochrane. We saw mountain sheep on the morning drive out of Canmore.

Elise had a wonderful time at the zoo. She told us over and over what a nice day she had, so I guess it was money well spent. We saw many beautiful animals, the most impressive of which (for me) was the cougar. The habitat had both a female and a male, and the size of the male cougar astounded me. It looked like a small lion. I cannot believe these things live in the forest in western B.C.

Comparing her hand to that of a gibbon.

Plans for the next few days are to climb, do some canoeing on the Vermillion Lakes and drive to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller so Elise can hunt for fossils and see dinosaur skeletons. I hope you are all enjoying your summer!

Marc, Pam and Elise...

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