Sunday, October 13, 2013

Return to Larch Valley

Trip Date: October 2013

It had been three years to the month since the last time we were in Larch Valley.  For a recap of our first adventure please see my Moraine Lake & Larch Valley post.  Friends of ours from Regina were in town for the weekend and wanted to head to the mountains for a day-hike.  At this time of year the choice is easy as Larch Valley is the place to be!  Even though it's always crowded, if you've never been, the mountain scenery and the golden Larch Trees are worth the trip, at least once!  

The hike itself is about 8.5km round trip with 535m gained in elevation.  The trail starts at the Moraine Lake parking area, which is approximately 11km from Lake Louise and about 200km west of Calgary along the Trans Canada Highway in Banff National Park.

Also of note is the annual trail restriction that starts in mid-July for the Moraine Lake area.  Hiking parties must be in tight groups of four or more to reduce the risk of unwanted wildlife encounters.  There were exactly four of us, and one dog, on the day's outing so we wouldn't have any issues with Parks Canada employees and hopefully wouldn't run into any bears!  

Moraine Lake sitting in the Valley of the Ten Peaks
The beautiful turquoise water of Moraine Lake as viewed from the trail
The golden Larch Trees in Larch Valley
Tower of Babel as viewed from above Larch Valley
The first Minestimma Lake (foreground) and the Fay Glacier between the Peaks of Mt. Babel and Mt. Bowlen
Eiffel Peak
Pinnacle Mountain
The second Minestimma Lake sits at the base of Sentinel Pass.  If you look closely you can see the snow-covered trail that winds up to the summit of Sentinel Pass.  Sentinel Pass sits between Pinnacle Mountain and Mt. Temple (right).
Christine and Sharon beside the second Minestimma Lake.  This was where we stopped for lunch and was also our turn-around point for the afternoon.
Sharon and Janson with the Valley of the Ten Peaks in the background
Christine, Rome, Janson, and Sharon hiking back down the trail
Sharon sitting in an oddly-shaped tree
I wrote a brief story for the Calgary Guardian called Those Golden Larches that was featured on their website in October 2014.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Move It!

Will Gadd is one of Canada's premiere outdoor athletes and one of the world's most versatile.  He is an accomplished climber (both rock and ice), mountaineer, paraglider, and kayaker.  He has won numerous awards, been featured in countless magazines, and is sponsored by dozens of companies.  On top of all that he is a sought after public speaker and pens the column Gadd's Truth in each issue of Explore magazine.  Now you might be wondering why I am telling you all of this or why he is being featured on my blog.  No, I do not know the man nor have I ever met him, but I was recently shown a short video that I feel aligns perfectly with the greater theme of this blog.  Although the video is sponsored by Arc'teryx, a major outdoor clothing and gear company, and features Mr. Gadd doing what he does best, I feel that the message the clip is trying to convey is an important one.  See for yourself...

I had the priviledge of interviewing Will on behalf of the Calgary Guardian.  You can read the full interview in my story titled, Wild Jobs Part Six: Professional Outdoor Athlete.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Event Date: September 2013

This past Sunday I took part in the first annual SUP Dog race.  The event was hosted by Kananaskis Outfitters, a gear rental shop located in Kananaskis Village and owned by a friend, and former co-worker.  It was a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race with a twist; you had to have a dog on your board the whole time.  All of the proceeds raised from the race were going to Friends of Kananaskis Country for trail repairs/replacement due to the floods.  It was shaping up to be a lot of fun for a great cause!

Promotional poster for the race featuring Claude and his dog Vasco
As you can see from the above picture, the race was actually supposed to take place on Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country, but the wind was howling the morning of the race so the venue was changed to Wedge Pond in Spray Valley Provincial Park, which is part of Kananaskis Country.  This was a welcome change because it would have been really tough battling the whitecaps on Barrier Lake.  It was also quite chilly (about 5°C) that day so swimming wouldn't have been very much fun with the wind blowing like it was.  We even got a bit of light snow that morning!

Wedge Pond
Jeff, Kloe, Rome, and I trying to stay warm before the race!
Kloe anxiously waiting for the race to begin
More pre-race pictures
Due to the weather the turn-out wasn't as large as originally expected, but that didn't stop us from having a great time.  The race was going to be done in two different heats; women and men.  The three women and their dogs were up first.

Starting the race!
Up next it was the four men and their furry companions!

Lining up at the starting point.  I think the guy to my right was cheating since he was only using half a dog!
Rome and I waiting to get started
On your marks, get set, GO!
Jeff and Kloe with Claude and Vasco close behind
Finishing strong, but trying to avoid falling in!
Thankfully Rome didn't knock me into the water!  In fact I think everyone that competed managed to stay dry.  It was way too cold to go for a swim and I probably wouldn't ever get Rome back on the board if she ended up going for an icy dip!

It was a tight race for second place between Jeff and I, but I ended up finishing just before him!
Jeff and I accepting our prizes from Claude and Michelle
Even though it was cold outside, everyone seemed to have a great time.  I am already looking forward to next year's event, which is supposed to be held in the summer instead of the fall!  I'll definitely be back for another shot at the crown, but I think they need to have separate dog weight classes to even things up a bit!!