Wednesday, November 23, 2011

October 8, 2011 The Iceline Trail and Belly Dancers

 Even though it was another foggy day in Banff, I decided to drive back to Yoho National Park and hike the Iceline Trail.
Which meant I also left Alberta and entered the best place on Earth. It turned out to really be the best place to me, because as I approached these signs the sun and blue skies appeared for the first time in a week.
I am pretty sure I wanted to hike this trail just to prove to myself that I could do it. It has an elevation gain of 2400ft to the Iceline Summit which is 4 miles from this sign. My plan is to make it to the summit. The views are supposed to be amazing.
The first part of the hike is up this mountain. I'm not gonna lie. I made it up the mountain and began going across it toward the summit. But I didn't make it. The initial climb took me forever. I was stopping often and at times I had to stop half way up a switchback. As I began my traverse across the top toward the summit, there was still a lot of uphill climbing. Too much for my exhausted flatlander legs. Here's pictures I took along the hike.
There was a hard frost this morning. As the sun began to warm the ground, there was steam rising upward.
The first part of the hike up the mountain was in a forest. This was one of the first views through the trees.
As I gained elevation, the view across the valley of the Takakkaw Falls and the Daly Glacier above it came into view.
 Once I got above the tree line, the views were great.
Looking further up the Yoho Valley.
 Looking up the mountain I was climbing from one of my many resting spots.
Hey, I was damn proud I made it up here but as I huffed and puffed my way up. I'm not too proud to admit lots of people passed me with relative ease.
I am pretty sure this imposing ridge is where my brain finally listened to my body and decided it couldn't climb upward anymore...
 ...So I ate my sandwich and
 took pictures in every direction.

Then I headed downhill...
...back to the treeline.
Up here you could hear the falls across the valley.
 A few shots on the way down.
 Wild looking tree patterns on this mountain side.

This is what happens when you carry your camera around your neck while sweating profusely on a chilly day, then take a quick picture.
 More downed trees along the trail.
 I had to cross this very dangerous waterfall.
Back on the bottom of Yoho Valley
Self-portrait in a creek.
A look back up to where I had just hiked.
 The hike back from the Whiskey Jack Hostel to the car took me past the very impressive Takakkaw Falls...
 ...along the colorful Yoho River.

 As I drove down the Yoho Valley Road, the scenery caused me to stop several times to take pictures. As I said earlier, I was feeling pretty good about myself for making it up the Iceline Trail. Then I saw these two riding bicycles up a road that I was nervous driving a car up it. My day was ruined as they passed. It was an older couple, probably in their early sixties. I felt like such a pussy. Actually I was damn impressed by them. That road is uphill the whole way. It is so steep that it actually has switchbacks on it.
 Finally good views of mountains without clouds and fog.
Fall colors in the mirror are closer than they seem.
 I stopped at Moraine Lake on the way back to Banff. Lake Louise was a complete madhouse so I didn't stop there.
It was a beautiful day but the sun was right above the lake making it difficult to get shots from any  direction other than this one.
As I drove down the Bow Valley Parkway, I saw something on the mountain side. I thought it might be a bear, so I stopped. I had to cross a small creek and bushwhack through the brush and trees. I must have made a ton of noise and when I made it to the clearing, this male elk was staring right at me. I had to take pictures from behind a tree because I thought he might charge at me. I was disappointed it wasn't a bear until I realized that I had grabbed my camera but forgot the pepper spray in the car.
Castle Mountain in the sunshine.
I took a short hike above Pilot Pond and relaxed in the meadow grass on the hillside. It had been a beautiful late afternoon but it quickly changed as dark clouds approached.
 The sun still lit the trees as the dark clouds made for an interesting contrast.

I could have stopped several more times but I had to get to Banff. I had a dinner date with Chrissy.
 Uh-oh, a roadside scenic turnout. Chrissy will have to wait.
 I really can't explain this scene. There was a full movie camera crew filming at this highway turnout parking lot. They were all Indian, (India, not Canadian natives). There was Indian music playing...
...and all these extremely white girls were dancing like natives from India. Hey I couldn't make this stuff up. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. So here is a picture of young hotties dressed as belly dancers with a mountain in the background. Strange? Yes! But like I said before, everything looks better with a mountain in the background. Sorry I am late, Chrissy. I had to take pictures of belly dancers at a highway parking lot. No really that is why I am late.

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