Monday, 17 October 2011

Thanksgiving in Waterton

For Thanksgiving Cherie, Beth, Cam and I headed out to Waterton to meet up with my Aussie buddies (Sally and Karla) that I met on my riding trip!  The first day we hiked almost 14 km to get to Upper Rowe Lake.  The hike was fairly moderate until the last 25 min where it was a steep uphill climb in about half a foot of snow!  It was interesting to see the gradual change in the scenery as we progressed in altitude... It was amazingly beautiful and we really enjoyed the day.

View from top of where we had just hiked from

Upper Rowe Lake

Big Horned Sheep!

For Thanksgiving Monday we did a shorter hike that took us up to Summit Lake.  We were a little worried as this area is known for bear sightings, but we had our bear spray handy and didn't end up seeing any bears (thank goodness!)  Rex and Charger took some time both days to play in the water and enjoy the hike as well!

Cameron Lake

Summit Lake

Crazy dogs!

Not your typical thanksgiving, but a great way to spend two days!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Okanagan Wine Festival

Last weekend, Cherie and I booked a weekend in Penticton, BC to experience the Okanagan wine festival. We left Friday morning, and the drive (which was about 8.5 hours), was beautiful... Driving through the mountains and then heading into the Okanagan valley.  When we arrived in Penticton we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine with dinner, and headed out for the night.

The next day we travelled to Oliver on a tour of 7 different wineries.  My favourite was "See Ya Later" ranch... The winery logo is a dog with angel wings, and the deceased previous owner of the winery was an eclectic old man who loved his dogs!   Each of the wines is named with a dog theme in mind (eg. Fido).  Every winery was different and unique in it's own way. Our tour guide was very knowledgable and we met up with two lovely ladies that joined us on the tour.

In the evening, we attended a 5 course dinner with wine pairings.  The food and wine were delicious, and we enjoyed dinner with a very accentric and eclectic mix of people and ages.  It was a fabulous time!

The next morning we did some sightseeing, and had lunch at a winery just outside of Kelowna.. and then headed home.  The drive home was a little foggy and done somewhat in the dark, but we made it safe and sound.

Overall, an amazing way to spend the weekend! Cherie and I have both agreed that we will be going back sometime!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Rocky Mountain Riding Adventure :)

Last Monday I left on a four day back country horseback riding trip through Banff National Park. I couldn't imagine any better way to experience the Rocky Mountains. Our 4 day trip was approximately 90 kms on horseback and took us into some places that not many people even get to see on foot.

The first day of the ride we met our horses and the rest of the people in the group. Our group consisted of Sally and her two kids Patrick and Karla. They are visiting for a year from Australia. The other two ladies were Anna and Helga who are on a trip here from Germany. A very eclectic mix!! I was riding Rosco, who was just a big horsey dopey version of Charger! He was great :) We also met our guide Cindy, who was awesome! 

We set out around 9:30 am, crossing the Norquay Ski area to reach the paths that would take us out to our first night of camping. About 10 minutes into the ride we saw a grizzly bear crossing one of the fields – probably about 60 feet away from us! The horses all pricked their ears, but reacted very well so we sat for a minute and watched... 

We rode for about 6 hours the first day, stopping for an excellent hamburger lunch! All of the supplies are carried on a mule (our mule was Red Hot!). While we were stopped for lunch we met some hikers who were on their 9th day of a camping/hiking trip – traveling from Lake Louise. We shared some hamburgers with them, and they were extremely grateful as they had been living on powdered noodles for most of their trip! Whenever we stopped we let the horses graze – it amazed me that they never went very far... but they are experts and they've definitely done this before! 

When we reached Stoney Creek (our first camp) we enjoyed dinner with our cook Penny and some time around the fire. The temporary camps are set up all summer – they have electric wildlife fences around them, a bunch of sleeping tents, a cook tent and a wash stand. Very rustic, but with everything you need.

On day 2, we set out after breakfast, and continued our climb into the mountains. The sights were outstanding, and I found myself at times unable to believe the beauty of the surroundings. It made me wonder what the first adventurers and travelers must have felt when they explored the Canadian landscape and wilderness. 

Along the way we ran into our packer with the mule train (each camp has a cook and a packer – the packers transport food, supplies and any luggage to and from town and between each camp). 

We stopped again for lunch, and then continued on our way to Flint camp which is at the base of Flint Mountain. We enjoyed some dinner, roping and some time again around the fire. This camp also had a makeshift shower (which I enjoyed thoroughly). We all fell into bed fairly early – long days of riding and the fresh air in high altitudes was enough to tire us out!

Day 3 started out bright and early – this would be our longest and toughest day of riding. A lot of the terrain was very steep. Early on into the ride we stopped and hiked a little ways to a beautiful waterfall just off the path. 

We then stopped for lunch at Rainbow Lake which was breathtaking. We hiked around the lake (which took about half an hour), and then had lunch and relaxed for a bit. Some of us enjoyed a nap by the water, and then we continued along our way again. 

Soon after we left Rainbow Lake, we entered 40 Mile Pass. The view is spectacular – I felt like I was in a postcard. 

Our 3rd night was very similar to the others – we arrived at Mystic Camp and enjoyed some supper and smores around the fire – falling into bed quite early. We were very lucky – the weather was amazing and the nights were not too cold. I was usually bundled up in hat, mitts, slippers and warm clothes to sleep - but overall quite comfortable. Our 4th day brought us back around to where we had started... we said our goodbyes and all continued home. 

It was an amazing four days that I won't forget – what a way to see the Rockies! I also met some great friends, and have been invited to visit Australia or Germany whenever I would like! :)