Sunday, July 30, 2006

fun in them thar hills!!! - Carthew Pass and Akamina Ridge Hikes in Waterton National Park, Canada.

it has been a long, long, time since i walked in the mountains. when my friend, ahmed, called me a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of traveling to waterton national park for a couple of days of hiking, i jumped at the chance. i packed up my boots and "walking sticks" and off we went last wednesday.

what a great time in a very beautiful park.

Carthew Summit/Alderson Lake...
on thursday, i set off alone to tramp the 20 km trail from cameron lake to the townsite via carthew summit and alderson lake. it's a great classic hike in the park. very popular. the vistas were far and wide.

carthew pass, to the right of the horizon, was the "crux". it looks a bit daunting from a distance but pretty easy to surmount.

3 hrs from cameron lake (the start), i reached carthew summit, a knobby hill that forms the southern point of the pass, for lunch...

look!! akira kurosawa (center) was at the summit as well. i don't know who that dude was in the background. mountains in the background are in the american glacier national park.

where ever i go, a crowd gathers. but, here of all places?! this is a friendly group of minnesotans... to the left is the knife-like edge of carthew pass.

heading down to carthew lakes... them red hills are made of a 1.5 billion y.o. rock called argillite. fascinating...i thought i was on mars.

them's are the lakes!!! purdy, eh? waterton townsite is about 10 km and 1000 m down the valley. if it weren't so hazy, you could make out the prairies in the upper right hand corner of the pic.

after a knee jarring downhill jaunt from carthew lakes, i arrived at alderson lake. from here it was a long walk through a grizzly bear infested forest back to town.

Akamina Ridge...Forum Lake to Wall Lake.

on friday, ahmed and i tackled the 20 K akamina ridge walk.

the ridge, which is actually in BC, was one of the most incredible, mindblowing walks i've ever done. it gave us brilliant views of glacier national park (montana to the south) and waterton.

the guide book and BC parks service recommended that ridge be best walked by experienced hikers. pffft. i didn't think so. yes, there was a bit of scrambling to attain the ridge proper but it wasn't so bad. my advice to anyone of average fitness or better: go.

peaceful forum lake. akamina ridge is far above the lake.

ahmed having a snack, along with 10 other friends (they had cheezies and really annoying loud walkie talkies), at forum lake. to gain the ridge proper, our immediate goal was that low notch in the background.

this is the swell view of wall lake in the next valley once we climbed to the crest of the low notch. akamina ridge is in plain view high above. holy crap. that view was a little intimidating. the walk would take us clear across the top of this pic.

not so intimidating after minor scrambling to the ridge. here was ahmed walking along the broad slopes of scree and stunted vegetation. waterton is in the background. nice easy walking if it weren't for the gale force winds. in short bursts, the wind would pick up large pieces of rock, throwing them metres at a time. the wind sounded like a locomotive was coming at us.

akamina ridge in its glory. along the way, we had to scramble up 4 peaks (about 100 m each and not too difficult) each separated by stretches of broad ridge. we ate lunch here backs to the wind and clutching our flimsy sandwiches...

on the way up peak #1. wall lake far below. waterton national park in the background.

ahmed on peak #2. montana on the left.

peak #2. mindblowing vistas of montana.

akira kurosawa on peak #4. wall lake below. waterton to the rear. the ridge nearly complete on the right. it looked really daunting at the beginning but turned out to be a piece of cake. ha!

after 4 hrs. from atop the ridge, we rapidly descended to the clear waters of wall lake -- apparently BC parks doesn't believe in switchbacks, eh). the ridge is high above. i think we got back to the car at 1930h. ten hours of amazing hiking!!!

my suggestions: carry at least 2 L of drinking water (one frozen litre), start early to escape some of the high velocity winds, don't walk too close to the edge, and go for a refreshing dip in wall lake.

i'll share more photos in the next little while.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

1,000,000 little calgarians or bottles of beer on wall...

an apple pear in portland courtesy of my sis.

happy millionth citizen, cowtown...

ahhhh... mayor bronconnier's on the boob tube announcing a newborn baby as calgary's millionth inhabitant. how glorious!!! how the hell does he know this particular baby is the lucky millionth? it could have of been some guy from lebanon just stepping off the plane. i was confused until my bro pointed out the bronco's PR ploy of exploiting this poor cute infant.

why would he need to pull off a PR stunt like that? i dunno. unless he wanted to hide the fact that the population explosion has resulted in unmitigated suburban sprawl (which he denies to this day), huge taxes, out-of-this-world real estate prices, massive construction, and billions spent on more roads/overpasses, and above all, dilapidated bike paths.

i'm all for living in a vibrant, exciting calgary but c'mon it's outta control.

i guess i should just feel lucky that i live in such a fantastic city. can't wait to read the first comment telling me to get outta town, eh.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

i had a awesome dream.

some lebanese observations...

the evacuation so far has been a boondoggle. i love saying boondoggle.

having said that, it's a miracle the government has actually moved this fast considering how much real world experience it has.

there is something like 40000 canadian expats/tourists in lebanon (crap, that's alot of people) of which only 15000 are tourists. there's been alot of discussion over the net about the status of the rest being canadians of convenience. personally, if we're going there in the debate, we might as well lump in the bazillion snowbirds that inhabit the warmer climes of arizona and florida.

why were all these canadians in war-torn lebanon in the first place? what were they thinking? good questions but not everyone's an amazing kreskin or karnak. 6 years of relative peace followed by a idiotic hezbollah move to abduct a couple of israeli border guards. who would of thunk? i could have been there.

DO NOT rely on canadian consular services while travelling. the canadian passport is meant for foreign governments. other than to finance another tier of canadian bureaucrats, i'm not sure what value you get with an 85 dullah passport.

looks like globetrotting steve has ordered his plane to make a u-turn from france to pick up 120 evacuees in cypress. there better be a really good onboard movie or methinks its going to be a long long measured flight home for steve.

other news...

talking about a boondoggle, they should drop the proposed passport requirement to get into the states. first, it's a cash cow. second, travellers are law-abiding citizens. canadians have been traveling for centuries. it's a right. third, real terrorists don't declare their intentions. so, how's a passport going to stop them from doing their thang?

i saw a bit of the new karaoke reality show, the one, last night. pretty boring. i felt kind of bad for strombolopoulous. what was he thinking?

Monday, July 17, 2006


thought i'd post this measured response to brighten up everyone's day...

i can't believe this guy has sponsorship... live and let live i guess.

check him out.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

plenty of peas in portland...

photo courtesy of my sis...

breaking news.

it sux to have a midsummer cold.

Friday, July 14, 2006

more sidewalk carnage...

(top to bottom): right hand, right knee.

i tripped while running yesterday. must remember to lift my feet when running. damn those sidewalk cracks.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

all aboard...

got some news from my asian friend, fellow raconteur, partner-in-travel-in-crime, the wasta.

i'm not sure it's good news.

the great maoist train from beijing to lhasa has been completed (with the shameful aid of bombardier - a canadian company).

despite the fact that it will result in massive immigration of ethnic chinese to tibet, the extreme marginalization of the tibetan peoples, filling the coffers of the communist party, the prospect of traveling on this train is intriguing to say the least.

the train is the cat's ass mode of travel.

the fares are outrageous though. beijing to lhasa, one-way, 2 days, starts at $102 USD.

train fares to lhasa...

anyone game?