Father’s Day

Take 2 (right day this time!) Like father, like son – pointing at mountains! Moments earlier we were pointing at the fish in the lake 🙂 Happy Father’s Day Dad! Photo taken by Maria on our awesome Rockies roadtrip back in 2011.

For reasons unknown I originally posted this photo a week early. Perhaps I can blame our lack of a printed calendar hanging in the kitchen; we never got round to buying one so we have a blank patch of wall in the kitchen where I still expect to be able to see the date…

Anyhow, I love this photo. I have a couple of all-time favourite family photos from that trip, and this is one of them. It makes me smile every time I look at it; both of us in shorts, t-shirt, and a hat, a camera bag at our hip. If I remember correctly, we’re actually shielding our eyes from the sun rather than pointing at a random mountain, but it’s funny to think that we’re adopting a mirror-image pose. (Speaking of mountains, the big snowy one in the upper right is most likely Mount Edith Cavell.)

Over the years I’ve come to realize just how much of a melding of my parents I am, and how, for the most part, all of us are. From mannerisms to sayings, food and drink preferences to health conditions, even the sound of sneezes. They are part of me, and I have become part of them. I get a sense of my own personal history and appreciate all the more what it took to get me started in this life, and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to pay them back a little here and there.

Advertisements

Alpine views

I think this might be the very last of these Throwback Thursday posts. Coming up with a theme for these posts has been fun, and sometimes a little challenging. Today’s link had me scratching my head for a few moments until I realized the connection: both photos were taken in one of my favourite places, the alpine.

1. TBT to a beautiful Thursday in September 2012 on the Skyline trail in Jasper, the view south over Curator Lake from the Notch

First up is this stunning view from the Notch, the highest point along the 44-km Skyline Trail. What can’t be seen is the howling gale that greeted us as we came over the rise. We were oh-so glad of the sunshine after the previous day’s miserable cold rain, and the view was as breathtaking as the wind, but the downside to the alpine is the lack of shelter, and we were certainly feeling that as we huddled down in a group to eat our lunch.

The wind was a constant companion for the next hour or so but it was worth it for the never-ending views along the ridgeline of Amber Mountain. Definitely an awesome hike, and one I would love to repeat.

2. Some colour for a grey day – my favourite flower, a glacier lily, taken a couple of years ago on the trail to Zoa Peak.

View this post on Instagram

Some colour for a grey day – my favourite flower, a glacier lily, taken a couple of years ago on the trail to Zoa Peak. For #LeaveNoTraceTuesday I'll add that getting these kinds of flower photos often means going off-trail, a practice that requires a lot of care. It's also a time when even leaving footprints is not appropriate in case in invites the less careful – I've witnessed many a hiker simply not looking where they're putting their feet. On busy trails I'll simply not bother and just be content to admire the view from afar or use a long zoom lens 🙂 #zoapeak #coquihalla #alpine #wildflowers #glacierlily #erythroniumgrandiflorum #lnt #leavenotrace #beautifulbritishcolumbia #hiking #mec #mecnation #rei1440project

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

The second photo is of a subject that entices me up into the alpine as soon as the snow has melted: the humble glacier lily. Every year I like to go in search of them just as they poke up through the snow, and this year will probably be no different. The trick is to find somewhere new each time, and I’ll need to start thinking about that soon as we’re already in May!

This photo was originally posted on a “Leave No Trace Tuesday”, so I’ll include the comment I made at the time. Getting these kinds of flower photos often means going off-trail, a practice that requires a lot of care. It’s also a time when even leaving footprints is not appropriate in case in invites the less careful – I’ve witnessed many a hiker simply not looking where they’re putting their feet. On busy trails I’ll simply not bother and just be content to admire the view from afar or use a long zoom lens.

I’m always wary of stepping off the trail in popular areas in case someone sees me and interprets that as a green light to wander wherever they please. What they don’t see is the extreme care I take to step through the flowers, sticking to rocks where I can and bare dirt otherwise as much as possible. If I can’t identify a way through then I just don’t go and I’ll find an alternative flower to photograph.

Icy blue

This week’s Throwback-Thursday theme is ice. Perhaps my favourite topics in physical geography is glaciology (volcanoes and meteorology come a close second) and so it was with some delight that I realized I could get close-up views of glacier while hiking in BC and Alberta. I had visited Chamonix for a conference (wow – 20 years ago now!) and had enjoyed seeing the snowy icecap of Mt Blanc and the Mer de Glace, but they were still quite distant. What I wanted was to be able to touch that blue ice, without necessarily getting into mountaineering. I found two ways to do just that.

1. Scale. A lucky shot, these 2 photographers were packing up as we got to this viewpoint. Taken in Aug 2009.

Our third trek into the Canadian Rockies and our second time stopping at the Athabasca Glacier. In 2008 we’d taken the coach tour out onto the glacier, which gave us the chance to step out onto the ice and even sample the delicious cold meltwater. A year later we spent a few days exploring along the Icefields Parkway, stopping off at the Athabasca Glacier once again, this time just walking to the toe past all the signposts marking its position in recent years.

As we turned to leave, I noticed these two just beginning to walk away after taking a few photos. I changed to the telephoto lens and quickly captured them against the freshly-revealed ice in the background where a chunk had calved off, leaving behind a sheer blue cliff. It remains once of my favourite glacier photos because it lends scale to the immensity of the ice.

2. Wedge Glacier, getting further away each year.

By the end of our first summer of hiking in Vancouver, we had improved our strength and stamina sufficiently to tackle the steep hike to Wedgemount Lake, the site of perhaps the most accessible glacier in the area. That day, our turnaround point was the campground next to the lake, though I now wish we had continued on to the glacier on account of it being much closer than it was in the above photo (taken in 2015). I never expected to witness glacial retreat in my lifetime let alone in just a decade of hiking in BC. I was shocked when I revisited in 2013, and even more so in 2015 where the combined effect of a mild, low-snow winter and a warm dry summer had led to a huge retreat in the Wedge Glacier.

Where only 2 years previously the glacier terminated in an ice cave and a small pool, now the glacier’s snout ended in a much larger lake – indeed, a new glacial lake forming. Still impressive to be so close to this river of ice, but sobering to witness its retreat.

3. Wedgemount Lake, always a stunning place to be.

Lastly, a wider shot of Wedgemount Lake looking towards the Wedge Glacier, again taken in 2015. On our first hike here in 2005, the glacier extended to the obvious rocky outcrop visible near the end of the glacier. In the 1970s, the glacier calved into the lake itself! And that colour – always such a treat to see.

For sure the lake and its surroundings look spectacular on a sunny day such as this. But one of my favourite visits was on a misty, cloudy day in 2011, the rocks dusted in their first skiff of snow. The lake glowed a sage green being the only colour in an otherwise mostly-monochrome scene. A beautiful sight! The other highlight of that day was seeing a mountain goat. 🙂

Who goes there?

Who goes there? Bear! Prelude to probably the best bear encounter we’ve had. It was quite something to be stopped on the road and have a mother bear wander back and forth between the cars to find tastier berries.

I don’t know how long we were stopped for, but it felt like an age as we sat in the car and watched this mother bear and her three cubs feeding by the roadside. Traffic was at a complete standstill, and the road was completely blocked by cars (including a tour bus); people had just stopped in the road to watch. It was a mesmerizing experience, but I worry about the cubs in situations like this as they are likely to grow up thinking that cars stop for them.

Eventually a gap opened up in front of us and we moved on to Maligne Lake for our boat tour (see the previous entry).

Becalmed

Beautiful reflections in Maligne Lake

We’ve taken the boat tour on Maligne Lake a couple of times now and I still think it’s worth doing, despite the cost. The highlight is getting to see the famous Spirit Island that adorns the majority of the RVs touring the mountain parks. As we neared this point, the pilot slowed right down and swung the boat round in a big lazy arc so as not to create a wake and disturb this near-perfect reflection. Definitely a big “wow” moment!

Bear crossing

Why did the bear cross the road? Probably to escape the camera-wielding tourists…

Yet another photo from our 2011 visit to the Rockies. We spotted this bear along the road between Jasper and Pyramid Lake, and of course had to pause long enough to get a photo or two. While it looks like the bear is crossing the road, it’s actually walking through an empty parking lot so there was a good distance between us. It looked our way for a few seconds before taking off into the forest.

Tekarra and the Marmot

A welcome sight at the end of a long day – hiking below Mt Tekarra towards our campground. Oh and yet another cheeky marmot!

We were so glad to see this view, to be finally done with the long switchbacking trail down from the Skyline. Marmots kept us company, mocking our zig-zagging descent with their ability to trundle straight down the slope. By this stage we’d hiked 16 or so of our 18 km for the day, and we were all pretty tired. But there was one final insult: we reached the trees and could see a sign. We expected it to mark the campground, so imagine our dismay when the sign actually said “no camping”, and the campground was still another km away…!