Mount Lady MacDonald – 31 May 2014

31 May 2014

It was a cool morning when we set off for Mt Lady MacDonald at 7am. Before long, we had step off the granite-ridden bank of Cougar Creek – the effects of the rebuidling efforts of the June 2013 floods, and headed into the forest trail. Less than a hundred metres into the trail, we had gained quite an elevation, so we turned back to look, and The Three Sisters were in full view. What a sight!

Clear morning view of the Three Sisters Peak at the start of Mt Lady MacDonald Trail

It was a wonderfully pleasant trek as we made our way into the sheltered forest. Light streaming in through the branches provided a welcome warmth in the cool morning air.

Mt Lady MacDonald Trail – trekking through the forest cover

Soon we were out of the forest shade as we begin to approach the tree-line. Three mountains goats grazing on the slopes were unfazed when we came upon them, just metres away from the trail. They looked curiously at us (at least I think they were) and continued grazing.

Mountain goat “curious” at our appearance on the trail

Not long after, we arrived at a scenic viewpoint, still less than halfway to the summit of Mt Lady MacDonald. But, boy! the view was simply awesome!

A sight to behold! – less than halfway up to the summit of Mt Lady MacDonald

We continued on, our hike gradually turned to a hard rocky ascent above the tree-line, and the sky above us was all there was, as the summit lay between that blue expanse and our determined selves. An hour or so later, while we were on the scree section of the trail, and beginning to be challenged by it, we couldn’t help but looked back ever so often to take in the astonishingly spectacular view, and savour the sensation of being so high above everything else.

Awesome, sensational view on the scree slopes of Mt Lady MacDonald

We finally made it past the scree, and found our way to the false summit of Mount Lady MacDonald. This is where most hikers will stop after an arduous four hours or so of trekking. The knife-edge ridge to the summit can be a treacherous scramble and requires focus and balance.

On the false summit of Lady MacDonald – the knife-edge ridge behind me leads to the summit

Nevertheless, I decided to make my way to the summit on the knife-edge ridge and it was truly an incredible experience!

Reaching the peak of Lady MacDonald – awesome!

This trek with my buddy Nigel was one the most fabulous, sensational, and awesome experience that I ever had, that could fit in a single-day of hiking. There was a nice cool start in the early morning, a beautiful walk through the forest, encounters with friendly wildlife, magnificent mountain scenes, challenging scrambles on scree, sensational views, and an incredulous scramble on a knife-edge ridge, to reach the peak of Mt Lady MacDonald.

What a hike!

Chester Lake – 8 July 2014

The 8th of July was a beautiful day with bright sunshine and so I decided to recce a trail in Kananaskis – Chester Lake.

Chester Lake

Close to 11km return with a 310m elevation gain, I figured that I could do a run instead of a hike and try to get back in time for the World Cup semi-final match between Germany and Brazil at 2pm. The run turned out to be tougher than I imagined, with very steep climbs in several sections for two-thirds of the trail. It’s also possible my lack of acclimatization to the high altitude – having just returned from a vacation 4 days ago, rendered me breathless.

Mountain peeking through right at the beginning of the Chester Lake trail

It was one of the most scenic and enjoyable run that morning with Mount Chester and Gusty Peak appearing through the trees in the distance ever so often, as I made my way to the lake.

Meadow on Chester Lake Trail

Going through two open meadows on the last quarter of the trail, the two peaks seemed to open their arms to me as I drew nearer and nearer towards the lake. I arrived at the lake to a tranquil scene – no one around except for one solitary woman trying her luck at fishing.

Arriving at Chester Lake

Considering that I only started off at 10.15am at the trailhead, this was unusual for a popular hike. But then again, it was a weekday, so maybe that would explain the quiet surroundings.

One of the two creeks at Chester Lake, Kananaskis

With two towering peaks flanking the lake, the open grasslands, chirping birds, trees and wildflowers, two log bridges over running creeks, the setting was simply gorgeous!

Bridge over one of two creeks at Chester Lake

I decided to continue on a run round the perimeter of the lake, have a quick snack and make my way back.

The perimeter run took me to the opposite bank of the lake. What a view!

First group of hikers arriving as I began to depart Chester Lake

I actually passed by a few groups of hikers on my run out of Chester Lake. “How fortunate,” I thought to myself, “to be able to capture the beautiful tranquil scene at the lake!”

The run back was just as awesome – plodding through the meadows again with mountain peaks lined up in the distance and forest shades as I neared the end, I felt that this was one of the best trail runs for me this season.

The drive back through highway 40 was spectacular as well – blue skies, mountain ranges, and some wildlife by the roadside. I was tempted to pull over to take shots of the amazing view as the lighting that day seemed perfect by the way it fell on the mountains, enriching the greens and browns, and the sky was soooo blue. But I got a game to catch and the drive back was an hour and 45 mins. “Another time, another opportunity,” I thought.

I made it for the match.