Normally I’m ok with a 5am start but on this particular morning I slept in and missed carpool. A hurried message to Michael that I’d meet him and the group at Moraine Lake and hopefully catch them on the ascent; I knew they’d be stopping in Canmore to pick up Petra…
The morning opened with a beautiful pink and orange sunrise. Darn it for sleeping in and seeing it from a vehicle instead from Moraine Lake! Still, a beautiful morning, and a good opportunity to test out sport mode on the mountain roads. About two-thirds of the way up the winding Moraine road I hit a convoy of a couple cars, and wouldn’t you know it, when we pulled into the parking lot it happened to be Michael and the group.
The objective was firstly to have fun and take some photos of the larches in fall, and secondly to scramble Eiffel Peak.
- Larix lyalli, the alpine larch, is a deciduous, coniferous tree that lives at very high altitudes—1,800 to 2,400 m. The needles are pale blue-green and deciduous, turning golden yellow in autumn
- Scrambling is a method of ascending rocky faces and ridges. It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hiking and rock climbing. It is often distinguished from hillwalking by defining a scramble as a route where hands must be used in the ascent. Less exists to distinguish it from climbing, with many easy climbs sometimes referred to as difficult scrambles.
(Thanks to Wiki for the ‘official’ definitions!)
Our group of 4 headed up caught up to another group of 4. Since we were the only ones on the mountain that day we combined forces being “lost” together and made it to around 150m from the summit. Ah, well, next time, in better conditions. There was no visibility, anyway.
Upon descent we picked up our other group members who had turned around early and had been waiting at treeline. I found out they’d been feasting on delicious home-made desserts and having a grand time while we were dealing with face-scouring icy particles and wind!
Our group now whole, we headed into the busy hiker traffic of Larch Valley. It’s usually busy on weekends anyway, but today it was unbelievably busy; it’s the larches and Moraine Lake and Valley of 10 Peaks and the impressive mountains of the Continental Divide that draw the crowds to this area in the fall. (It’s not such a bad place to visit in the summer, either!) In the winter, Moraine road is closed and there is nobody here except deer, rabbits, birds, marmots and other animals including bears, as I know well…
Since we had some time, we added on the little walk to Consolation Lake, too. Although the lake path’s easy, after 12 hours of rocks and snow and kickstepping and downhills my ankle was definitely complaining. As was my opposite quad, a leftover feeling from having compensated so much for the ankle, during the race last week.
What a wonderful preview of what’s soon to come. Winter!