Tonight’s been a nice quiet Monday night recovering from the weekend & a strenuous day at work moving too many heavy steel doors. Really all I’ve done is cook a proper meal (my first in almost a month I think, Alex & Megan at pre-natal classes) & made some muffins – Canadian ingredients must be slightly different as they are not quite as good as normal & it’s a really easy recipe. It also seems that Canadians have not heard of self-raising flour, so I had to make some myself (thanks Yahoo Answers).
To more interesting things – Saturday was forecast for rain, but there wasn’t too much of it to discourage Alex & I driving to Lake Minnewanka (said as if Minnie Mouse had married Willie Wonka) – which is approximately opposite Banff over the Transcanada highway. Lake Minnewanka was the first scenery I saw really in the area – Megan took me out there at the start of my January/February trip. The main the difference now is that the surface of the lake has returned to the liquid phase. I’m still undecided which is more beautiful – summer or winter; but the weather on Saturday wasn’t always so nice. We started the ride in the rain & then snain made itself felt. By the time we got to this river after five minutes the sun had come out again.
The riders crossing the bridge finishing their ride looked decidedly muddy – we were about to find out why. The surface of the only real hill of the ride was dirt that was now quite slick & slippery. The mud wasn’t deep, it was more surface water that was running down the trail (it’s never a “track” here) & splashing up to meet up one’s bike, feet, legs & clothes. It did mean however that the climb, which wasn’t particularly steep compared to the ones earlier in the week, was quite difficult as the rear tyre would often slip on roots on small step-ups (I’m still not rating High Rollers that much, even when they have been relegated to the rear). The top of the ascent took us back to the top of a bluff above the lake & for the drop down to the lakeside the trail changed suddenly to being very rocky – it wasn’t too steep, but it was dry & the babyheads (before anyone asks – rocks about the size of a baby’s head, they make for much more interesting riding as they tend to move & send you directions that you didn’t really have in mind) were great fun to negotiate. Not many rocks here for Alex to get through:
The rest of the trail to the warden’s hut (our turnaround point, at about twenty kilometres) was within about twenty or thirty metres (altitude) above the lake, so it wasn’t too strenuous – but still a lot of fun. It’s a very popular trail & we passed many hikers & bikers on the way. As I was at the front for most of the way out I spotted lots of squirrels & deer diving off in to the foliage as I surprised them.
I’m pretty useless at yelling out at blind corners to let bears know I’m coming, but I was pleased not to see one & have to put my new bear spray to use. The trail was pretty smooth for the most part, but there was a good creek crossing that only turned out feasible in one direction.
It was about ninety minutes after setting out when we reached the hut (a little delay for a mechanical – one of the pins holding the parallelogram together in Alex’s rear derailleur thought it a good idea to work its way a fair way out).
Sitting snacking on the side of the lake (which is a good couple of metres lower than it should be – still waiting for the summer melt) we watched clouds roll in up the lake from the direction we came & within long we were getting wet without having to go swimming. So it was back on the bikes again & shortly after it dried out. We got most of the way back without precipitation, but as we were climbing that rocky bluff some nice big drops started falling – by the time we had worked hard to get to the top again, it was proper wet again. That made the final downhill even more fun as we got soaked, muddy & the slipperiness made for some exciting riding. A great day’s ride, even if I do now have to find the time to give my bike a bit of a clean (I’ve been spoilt – I haven’t had to clean it after all the previous rides of the last three weeks).
It was a bit of a late start (1100) for our hike on Sunday as some of us had been out to a late movie & then hit the nightlife of Canmore (tongue firmly in cheek there – Canmore is pretty small, still it kept me up until two). Megan, Alex, Zara & I were off up Grotto – which is opposite Lady Mac over Cougar Creek on the east side of the Bow Valley. This is the highest of the hikes that we had attempted over the last few weeks – the summit is at just over 2700m. Yesterday dawned with the best weather we have had for ages – & the first couple of hours of hiking were uncomfortably hot (the highs don’t seem to have got out of the teens for the last couple of weeks – which is fine by me, great riding temperature). There’s not too much to say about the hike, we walked up a very steep path for ages, then got out of the trees & in to a little snow & walked for quite some time up to the top of the ridge. Due to our late start, leisurely pace & frequent rests/food-stops we didn’t push on for the last thirty-forty minutes of ridge walking to the summit. I think I was the only one disappointed by that, but it was getting late (1530 by the time we turned around) & if I forget just how steep the walk is, I’ll have another go in a few months’ time when all the snow has melted. The walk down seemed to take forever, as it was very steep – mercifully, the trail was pretty good & there was not much sliding/falling involved. All in all, it was an eight hour hike. Here are a few pictures from the day – I hope no one is getting sick of seeing all these.
Alex, Zara & Megan with Lawrence Grassi on the other side of the Bow Valley
Canmore with Lawrence Grassi on the left, Rundle on the right – you can just see the road going up to Whiteman’s Gap in between the two, it doesn’t look such a big bike climb now.
Above the trees now, looking southwest
Looking over the ridge, northeast-ish