Archive for category Hikes
Our first weeks in Tucson seemed like never-ending shopping trips. We were trying to furnish our house and we quickly signed ourselves up for some DIY projects like building a bed and shortening the legs of our counter-height table, which meant we were buying power tools in addition to furniture, dishes, groceries, and other miscellany.
It was hot. Like unbelievably hot. I walked out of my sister’s house in Mesa one day when it was 117 degrees and I felt like I had just opened the oven door. A hot wind in my face. It was so nice to have a place to stay when we got here though. A sister with a guest room and a swimming pool was just the best thing we could have asked for. But we had also booked our townhouse just a week or two before we arrived. That was a little terrifying since I had never seen the place before, but the whole move became easier because we had an address: getting drivers licenses, car insurance, voter registration; changing our address with all the various organizations that need to know where we are. Everything turned out to be a breeze.
Furnishing the house was a little harder than we expected, though. This was the third (or fourth?) time we’ve moved to a new place without any furniture and we’re usually pretty good at snagging things for free or cheap. In the past, we’ve been able to find things that look pretty nice, but not so nice that we’ll miss them when we leave them behind (ok not entirely true. I truly loved a lot of the furnishings we left in Boston). But even in the birthplace of Freecycle, the free market is pretty sparse here. And if you want used stuff for sale–even lousy looking used stuff–its selling for much more than I’m used to paying.
One of the first things we bought was a piano. The unfortunate seller said he would deliver it himself for an extra $35 dollars. I thought he was crazy, and I think he did regret it afterward, but a deal is a deal! The funniest part was when he finally got it in the door and realized he forgot the bench. Oy.
But all this running around and shopping in the city called for a few excursions. I’m not sure where this hike was, exactly, but a couple of the pictures are from the parking lot at Sabino Canyon.
It’s called the Jurassic Coast because it’s been a hotbed for fossil finding, and I was lucky enough to find a few fossils along the way! At least I think they were fossils. So for our grand finale, here are the shots from the most breathtaking hike of my life. The colors were so vibrant. The hills were so steep. The chase was so real.
We had a series of busses to catch, and if we missed that first bus, we missed our nonrefundable flight home. Thankfully my memory card was already full. I had been frantically deleting pictures to free up a little space for snapshots of the hike, so my capacity was really limited. Otherwise, I’m sure there would have been hundreds of pictures and we would have missed our bus for sure.
Not long after Lulworth Cove, E started fussing and I said we might need to stop and let her out for a while. M said we’ll break at the top of the hill, so I fed her a few morsels of bread to tie her over. By the time we got to the top of the hill she was asleep. So we moved right along! We skipped the picnic lunch that we packed and just kept going. Hill after hill.
It was much steeper than we were expecting. Just up and down rolling hills over sharp white cliffs. Stop for a photo op at the Durdle Door. More up and down. Stop and say hi to the sheep. Every once in a while I would stop and call out, “Don’t forget to look behind you!” because it was just as beautiful in front as it was behind.
We were really racing at the end to get to the bus stop, and we made it with 15 minutes to spare! So we had a sandwich and headed back to town, and then took the train to London.
But fate wouldn’t let us make it to the airport quite so smoothly. We waited on the corner for the EasyBus to take us to Gatwick, and when it pulled up the driver said we couldn’t take a baby without a car seat. We argued and argued, saying we’ve looked up the law and it’s not required on a bus in England. We said we’ve been on half a dozen busses with her and no one batted an eye. We said we even took her the EasyBus two weeks ago and no one cared. But he wouldn’t have it. No bus ride. No refund.
We turned around and bought some train tickets. The train is much more expensive, but it’s also faster, so we took advantage of the situation and lingered in London for a few more minutes. We had a bite to eat at the base of London Eye, snapped a couple more pictures, and finally breathed a sigh of relief when we made it to our hotel. Yeah, seriously, we slept in a hotel one night. Of course we made sure it was one with a full English breakfast before our early morning flight back to Calgary, where Stampede was in full swing.
Since Spring seems to be making an appearance more seriously, I figured I needed to hurry and get this last snowshoeing post up. There’s always a chance we’ll get another snow hike in this season, but these are the shots from our latest. These pictures were taken on the -17 (+1.4 Fahrenheit) windy last day of March.
We first attempted the hike in January but we got rained out, ironically. Nose Hill, you see, is not that far from our home. We thought it would be fairly easy to just carry our snowshoes to the base of the hill, strap them on and hike the trails. It just seemed our luck was so bad that every day when our schedule was free to go, it was either too cold to take a baby out or it was too warm for the snow to stick around. And finally one day it worked out! It was a little colder than we anticipated, but successful nonetheless. We had Family Home Evening on the Mount, with a lesson based on the Sermon on the Mount and a few hymns to carol through the trees.
(Click image for full size)
(Click here to read Lake O’Hara – Part 1)
We snapped a few dusky photos at the lake and headed back to the cabin. We lugged along a tripod to catch some night sky shots, but we were both so tired by dark that we decided just to stay in.
By the time we made it back to the cabin, we could smell everyone else’s dinners. Kate and Lara had some amazing smelling curry, and they were kind enough to share some yams with us, a nice side dish for our pasta with tuna. The cabin was fully equipped with pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and a propane stove. There was a constant cycling of melting snow being boiled for consumption, and an outhouse next door.
I was excited to finally have a night of uninterrupted sleep, being away from my baby who still wakes every 2 hours. It wasn’t exactly what I hoped for though. The late night scotch binge kept a lot of our cabin companions making trips to the outhouse during the night and I heard every single one of them. Ah well. At least we both felt pretty well rested in the morning.
We left the cabin just before dawn. The mountains seemed to glow against the twilight sky with the full moon shining on them. The pictures really don’t do it justice. It was just magic.
I realize now that we really didn’t take many pictures of the cabin’s surroundings during the daylight. We were so intent on our rescue mission that I really didn’t spend much time with the camera. These pre-dawn photos are cool, but it seemed like a totally different place during the day.
We didn’t take too much time to linger on the way down because M had to be back to Calgary, showered, dressed, and ready for a 3-Minute Thesis competition. But that’s a story for another day.
Just past Lake Louise and into Yoho National Park, there’s a small road that reaches 12 km up from the Trans-Canada Highway to Lake O’Hara. After we kissed the baby goodbye, we headed for the mountains, reaching the trailhead around noon. The day was perfect for a hike. The sun was warm, there was fresh snow and partly cloudy skies. Every step of the trek had a spectacular view of mountains and tall trees.
We were the only snowshoers on the road that day. Everyone else took cross-country skis, which makes for a faster trip, especially on the way down. I think it took us about 5 hours up and 4 down. Some said they could ski out in only 90 minutes. About half-way through the hike we encountered these vagabonds:
Kate and Lara are true mountain girls. They are no strangers to the outdoors. But they definitely got more than they bargained for. They were each pulling a child in a Chariot behind. Tinder was 8 months old–just 5 days older than E–and Layla was 2, and a whopping 34 pounds. That’s quite a lot of weight to pull. Including diaper changes and nursing breaks, they took 10 hours to do what we did in 5. Every time I wanted to take a break I would just think about them. They were working so much harder than me.
There were some steep stretches toward the end of the hike, but the worst part was the last 500 meters or so. It was a very narrow passage with steep drop-offs in a couple places, and the terrain was very up-and-down. As we were going through we could see the tracks of one skier who actually took off his/her skis to walk through the worst part, and then returned to skiing after 100-200 meters. Of course the only thing we could think of was how on earth a Chariot would make it through here (Okay truthfully, it wasn’t the only thing I was thinking about. I was also wondering when I could take off my pack. It was heavy and this was my first time backpacking).
Past that narrow neck, the trail opens up into a clearing. We could see the puff of the chimney off to the left, which was encouraging for sure, but we had to just stop in our tracks and look up. An amazing panorama of jagged mountains surrounding us on all sides. It felt as though we were walking through an optical illusion. The toothy mountains seemed distant and close at the same time. It was at that point when M said this might be his favorite hike in the Rockies. Really, I said? Even better than the Valley of the 6 Glaciers? Yes. We’ll still do that hike this summer though.
After drinking in the scenery for a few minutes, we dropped our packs at the cabin. There are two cabins, actually. One has about 8 beds, the other has 12 beds and a kitchen. In the main cabin, there was a crowd–one couple from Saskatchewan who does this hike every winter, and who skied in that morning. Then there were about 7 or 8 men from Alberta who seemed to have been there for quite a few days. They were playing cribbage and eating oysters with goat cheese. We made it a quick pit stop, and were on the trail again very soon. We wanted to go back and help Lara and Kate with the kids.
They were nearly 2 kilometers away from the cabin when we found them, and ready for a break. M and I both took a turn pulling the Chariots for a while (that’s me, above in the purple). When the trail got narrow, each Chariot had one pushing and one pulling to steer through. Kate was impatient and frustrated though, and maybe she had too much faith in me steering behind her. Timber wasn’t buckled in properly and the Chariot lost its footing when Kate aggressively tried pulling through (Seriously, I don’t know how she still had so much energy). We recovered quickly, but I think it was that incident that started a lot of swearing. From Kate, not me. She apologized later.
The crew was already stoking a fire in the small cabin for the two moms. Once we escorted them to the door, we were off again, finally to see the lake.
To be continued…
Also, I promise to get pictures up this week of our snowshoeing/backpacking retreat. It’s already been 3 weeks since we went, and it’s been on my to-do list ever since! But here’s a little preview of what’s coming.