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Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Rockies

Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Rockies


Postby ChrisW » Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:09 am

Date walked: 14/02/2013

Time taken: 5

Distance: 12.9 km

Ascent: 743m

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Sarah splashed out on a new hiking jacket for me for Valentines day so I had to put it to use...immediately. Because we have had several weeks of warm weather and snow melt, I thought I would head further into the mountains for a change. I selected Lake Minnewanka just north east of Banff as it has a good long distance lakeshore trail which was my intended hike today. The lake was named by the first nations Stoney people, the translation being 'Water of the Spirits'.

The car park only had two other cars and the owners of both were close by so I was guaranteed the trail to myself.

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The boat rental hut is closed for winter but I couldn't help thinking they could still make money from skate rentals and associated supplies, still the fewer amenities available the fewer folks there are wandering about. The mountains beyond the hut are Mount Inglismalde and Mount Girouard both almost 10,000 feet above sea level yet bearing only a light covering of snow. This must be the most mild winter ever experienced in the area.
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My route continues along the lakeshore trail and I am soon beyond the boat huts looking back at the snow peaks of Cascade Mountain
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as I turned along the western end of the lake I was struck by the lack of snow on the south west facing slopes of a very steep looking lump at the corner of the lake. I still haven't actually found the name of it. All I know is that it is the southern most part of the Palliser Range and is connected to Mt Astley by a fine looking ridge, I decided to call it 'Spirit Overlook' in deference to the Stoney peoples name for the lake....and I also decide to ascend it while the slopes are clear of snow.
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I love the blue of the ice broken over rocks as the water level within the lake has fallen, this little hump can be seen in the previous photo just to the left of the skinny centre frame tree.
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I contemplated crossing the ice (as some have obviously done before me) but being alone I decide to carry on with the trail, it might add 3km to go around by the bridge but I'm OK with that. The ridge I intend to ascend looks damn steep (aascent route was from the lower right hand end of the spine where it is snow free) as it turns out it really is damn steep!
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there is a good well trodden trail heading toward the bridge so clearly I'm not the only one who opted for the go-around of the lake rather than the go-across.
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The bridge is a fine looking trestle construction that crosses Stewart Canyon and leads me into the forest on the northern shore of the lake
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I follow the trail as it heads along the canyon for a while before reaching a junction where switchbacks take me up above the tree line and back toward the lake, the view of Cascade Mountain from the trail whets my appetite and makes me more determined to get higher than I first intended today.
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The trail rises and falls along the tree line, at times giving broken views through areas ravaged by forest fires. It is very warm and many of the trees are starting to bud.....I guess I'm not the only one who thinks spring is on the way early.
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As I reach the point where my unnamed lump meets the lake I decide I'm leaving the lake side trial and heading up it, there is no sign of an ascent trail and I'm surprised by that, it seems such an obvious approach though I have to say this is as steep a thing as I've ever ascended.
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I reach the first of a number of rock ledges that block my efforts and circle to the left until I reach a spot where I can scramble up. The rock is hellish sharp and gloves are soon donned to ease the wear and tear on my old hands.
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Once up and over the first ledge I am blowing hard and pleased to stop for a while and take in the views. Cascade Mountain is now fully visible and I can also see across the valley toward Banff which sits between the ranges in the far distance.
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The hike is fast becoming a climb in places and real care is needed on the loose shale, the angle of ascent doesn't get any easier and I am really feeling the effort but enjoying every step.
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I make my own zig-zag route up the endless slope. It might be hard work but it really is beautiful and so good to be out and getting up high again.
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Snow patches come and go during the climb but they are few and far between, as I drift to the right hand side of the rock face I can see along the eastern section of the lake and more stunning mountains beyond.
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another ridge, another rest I can't decide if I've got chronically out of shape or if this hill is the steepest thing I've ever ascended...perhaps it's a little of both
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the hill narrows and drives me toward a massive bulwark which appears to be guarding the entire ridge, I continue forward in the hope of finding a way around.
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The way ahead is blocked entirely by the almost vertical lump of rock and though it does look just about possible to scale it, this is neither the time nor the place for such heroics. From the bottom of the lump the views out across the lake a stunning.
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To the east the lake stretches away around endless mountains towards 'Devils Gap' some 28km away, it would make a nice gentle summer hike along its length.
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I found myself a perch in the sunshine and had a cuppa in a fantastic lunch spot over looking the lake, my new 'valentines' coat adding a nice splash of colour to the image.
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after a 10 minute rest I really wanted to get past this lump of rock so explored the right hand side of the lump, it quickly turned into a sheer wall of stone and though it offered the start of a 'possible' (though not probable) ascent route I quickly discounted it and turned to the tight shelf running around the left side.
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it was a dicey little route to start with and I hugged the rock face as I skirted around, but it did widen out a little in places and allowed a well needed 'stop and relax' session
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after a while the route narrowed to virtually nothing and the angle and mobility of the scree underfoot made me rethink the whole go-around idea. I do think it would be possible (with care) to carry on but I didn't know if that would be any good to me or if I would be circling the wall indefinitely.
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I decide to call it a day and turn back to face the lake and pick my way back along the edge, looking down reminds me that this really is a damn steep lump of rock.
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it's nice to get back on a wider section and relax again, I opt for a return to the lunch spot for another tea break before my descent.
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for a fleeting moment I consider a long steep glissade on the shaded slopes to get me back to the path but conditions are not right and I reluctantly set off on the long descent happy that I'd made it to over 8,000 feet which I never expected to do today.
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after a long and difficult descent (where did all those cliff edges come from) I finally reach the lake shore and decide to follow along it a while to see if I can see around the wall of rock that prevented my ascent, unfortunately the angle was such that I could only see rock going on forever so I turned for home.
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back onto the western shore I took one last look across the 'Water of the Spirits' before heading to the car park.
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I guess this would have to go down as a failure in terms of reaching a summit, but as I didn't set out with that intention today I'll put it down as a success for climbing an incredible slope I may otherwise have missed out on, I'll come back and hike the lake shore another day.
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ChrisW
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby morag1 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:24 am

Well done Chris, I can certainly see some signs of spring in your beautiful photos :D

Glad to see you posting again, seems a few weeks since you were on. I like the Water of the Spirits bit, must try to remember that for one of my own walks.

Nice jacket :wink:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby DaveB1 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:02 pm

Hey Chris, Great report and as usual stunning photos which turned me the same colour as your jacket :lol: :lol:
That big lump you couldn't get past would have challenged many a good walker, although I can't help wishing I'd been there too!

Hope the spring soon is sprung and the snow goes. all the best Dave
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby ChrisW » Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:05 pm

morag1 wrote:Well done Chris, I can certainly see some signs of spring in your beautiful photos :D
Glad to see you posting again, seems a few weeks since you were on. I like the Water of the Spirits bit, must try to remember that for one of my own walks. Nice jacket :wink:

Thanks Morag, to be honest I've been out 5 times and not posted a word about any of them 2 were repeats of existing reports and three were lower level stuff that doesn't get much of an audience anyway.....or maybe I'm just getting lazy with regard to write ups :lol:

DaveB1 wrote:Hey Chris, Great report and as usual stunning photos which turned me the same colour as your jacket :lol: :lol:
That big lump you couldn't get past would have challenged many a good walker, although I can't help wishing I'd been there too! Hope the spring soon is sprung and the snow goes. all the best Dave

Cheers Dave, as a lone wanderer sometimes I turn back when I know I could go on with a bit of 'support', I guess that is part of the downside of being a lone wolf :roll:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:39 pm

If it feels like spring and the bears are waking up they're going to see that jacket a mile off :lol: :lol:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby gammy leg walker » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:28 pm

Back with another stunning TR,lets have some clouds & clag for a change if you dont mind. :wink:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby ChrisW » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:58 pm

Gordie12 wrote:If it feels like spring and the bears are waking up they're going to see that jacket a mile off :lol: :lol:

If only mate, last year I was wearing bright red which should stand out even more.......still came across a load of bears :roll: 'll stick with shouting 'YO BEAR' every once in a while :lol:
gammy leg walker wrote:Back with another stunning TR,lets have some clouds & clag for a change if you dont mind. :wink:

Cheers Gammy, I don't think they have clag out here beside the prairies, there isn't enough moisture around......sorry mate :lol:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby SusieThePensioner » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:01 pm

Not a bad day out when you weren't really expecting to do much :lol:
Love the new coat and, oh yes, the photos were pretty special as well :thumbup: :wink:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby Johnny Corbett » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:39 pm

Looking good in the new jacket :thumbup:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby ChrisW » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:13 am

SusieThePensioner wrote:Not a bad day out when you weren't really expecting to do much :lol:
Love the new coat and, oh yes, the photos were pretty special as well :thumbup: :wink:

Thanks Susie, hopefully the sun will keep on shining and I'll soon be out among the hills again :D
Johnny Corbett wrote:Looking good in the new jacket :thumbup:

Cheers Johnny.....I think I prefer the old red stuff ..... but don't tell the mrs :wink:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby Phooooey » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:58 am

Wow ! Stunning photos as usual. Your nearly a match for Damson in that jacket. I'm going to have to get a neon one so I can join the party. We got to Banff on our honeymoon 5 years ago. Absolutely stunning place although I'm quite glad I never tried a walk up near this rock. DaveB1 got it right about turning green at the sight of that one.
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:29 am

Another great TR, I see you two had lots of mountain fun on Valentines Day :wink: :wink:
Nice jacket, too. The colour will fit with the shades of spring, when it arrives. You may pretend that you are an early leaf :lol: :lol:
But I think Kevin is still winning the Valentines-mountain-gift competition: two years ago I got a pair of crampons... with a red ribbon and "I love you" card attached :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby malky_c » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:08 pm

Stunning as ever :D . And great that your other half let you out to play on the 14th :lol:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby ChrisW » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:09 am

Phooooey wrote:Wow ! Stunning photos as usual. Your nearly a match for Damson in that jacket. I'm going to have to get a neon one so I can join the party. We got to Banff on our honeymoon 5 years ago. Absolutely stunning place although I'm quite glad I never tried a walk up near this rock. DaveB1 got it right about turning green at the sight of that one.

Thanks Phooooey, Damson has got me on the cuteness scale though :lol: That hill was a good steep grunt but great fun.
BlackPanther wrote:Another great TR, I see you two had lots of mountain fun on Valentines Day :wink: :wink:
Nice jacket, too. The colour will fit with the shades of spring, when it arrives. You may pretend that you are an early leaf :lol: :lol:
But I think Kevin is still winning the Valentines-mountain-gift competition: two years ago I got a pair of crampons... with a red ribbon and "I love you" card attached :lol: :lol: :lol:

Cheers BP, but only I got the fun in the mountains, it's far too much like hard work for MrsW :lol: she had to get her fun later :wink: I think Kevin should have got you the crampons for Christmas then you would have got more use out of em straight away :lol: ....awesome gift though any time of the year.
malky_c wrote:Stunning as ever :D . And great that your other half let you out to play on the 14th :lol:

Cheers Malky, I'm lucky to have one of those wonderful women who is happy to see me happy :wink:
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Re: Canada - Spirit Overlook - Has Spring Arrived in the Roc

Postby garyhortop » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:02 pm

Great report Chris and again some stunning photo's!! :D I think Phooey is right - you could match Damson in that jacket! Still.......at least there is no chance of losing you in that jacket.....suspect you might be visible from Space! :D :shock:
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