Monday, May 31, 2010

Lady Mac hike

The weather didn't end up clearing by Saturday - in fact, it was downright miserable really. But I didn't mind the snain (snow/rain) too much as I had joined the library the night before & settled down with a good book for most of the day. I rugged up & braved the cold & went for a walk across town to the thrift shop (a very curious collection of mostly junk) - but not quite as bizarre as the market in the Poconos last year). Megan & Alex took off to Calgary pretty early in the day (for a Saturday) to do some shopping at IKEA for the new house. The upside of that is that I don't have to sleep on Thermarests anymore - the downside is that the the bolts weren't included in the package, so I sleep on the mattress surrounded by bed components until the bolts turn up. No riding unfortunately & the hike up Grotto got cancelled as it would have been too snowy & miserable.

Awoke to snow dusting the trees down most of the way in to the valley - none around town, it was too warm. The trees on the lower reaches of the mountains lost their snow over the next few hours & Zara organised for us to hike up to the tearooms on Lady Mac (Mt Lady MacDonald) - which is the other side of Cougar Creek from Grotto. The trail started at the same place last Monday's Montane Traverse ride did - it also climbed just as steeply at the start, but of course just kept going up instead of traversing the side of the hill. It wasn't long before we could look back across the Bow Valley (in between the clouds, of course) - here are the Three Sisters over yonder.
Before long we were starting to see a little snow on the trees (all of it fresh) & then quite a few patches on the ground - not too bad for the end of spring, if you like that kind of thing. Then the cloud rolled in a lot more & it started snowing on us - however it would seem Zara didn't think it was all that cold (actually, it was a very pleasant temperature), behind her is James and Alex & Megan are on the right.Through a break in the clouds we could catch a view of Mt Rundle, the east end of which we hiked up the previous weekend (that bare patch in the trees is the meadow at the Nordic Center - the extremity of the very good Orange Trail).
This is looking a bit further down the valley - Three Sisters (again) on the left & Lawrence Grassi on the right:As we approached the "teahouse" (a misguided project from some years ago that was never finished - who would hike up for over two hours just to get a cup of tea?) the snow got deeper (up to thirty centimetres in places) & the path less obvious. Somewhere along here I saw my first bear prints - thankfully we didn't come across that which left them. We got to the teahouse after two hours and forty minutes & stood around for less than ten minutes as there was a chilly breeze up here - we did get to the clouds below us whizzing by & the occasional vista.The walk down wasn't particularly quick as the snow had all of us (I'm not sure about James) sliding around & down a little. As we got towards the end of the snow, Megan & Alex spied a marmot sitting nice & fat on a rock. The rest of the descent wasn't much faster as a few of us tried to prevent our knees from giving us too much grief - with varying degrees of success. Here is a nice picture of Grotto (the one we didn't climb due to the conditions) bathed in sunlight.
I'm back at the Banff Center tomorrow & hopefully for the rest of the week; I also hope to get a bit of riding in after work mid-week...

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