Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bounty of the Harvest 2010, Part 1 - The Garlic.

We had a pretty good haul of garlic out of the garden this year.

Like the size of those bulbs.

Harvested so much, I'm sure there's enough garlic to last till next spring...

Little Known Garlic Facts...

China, by far, produces the most garlic in the world (77 percent of world output or 12 million tonnes per year).

Garlic juice can be used as an adhesive for repairing china or glass.

Garlic is mentioned in the bible and talmud...

Dating tip: halitosis caused by consumption of garlic can be neutralized by simultaneous drinking of milk...

Nearly all cultivation of garlic is by asexual propagation (planting of cloves)...

Source: Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park: Tamarack Trail - Day 3 of 3.

Ok, we lucked out on the weather the first two days but we woke up to heavy cloud cover in the morning of Day 3. It looked like the sky was going to open up and pour on us as we started up the steep hill behind Lone Lake.

The final day of the trek just rocked. Two major undulations faced us: first climb over the eastern shoulder of Festebert Mountain and then gain the lofty heights of Lineham Ridge. Not straightforward as it seemed though.

After conquering Festebert, we plunged (depressingly) back down into the forest for a couple of hours. Always following the rockwall demarcating the continental divide to the west, towards the head of a valley.

Fields of flowers.

Nearing the head of the valley, BTOG finally emerged from the forest!!

Surrounded by sheer walls of rock blocking our way, the trail made a U-turn. We could see the feint line of a trail on the far scree slope. That must be the way!!!

No way but up, to Lineham Ridge. Slowly, slowly... The massive U-turn took us almost all the way back even with Festebert Mountain on the other side of the valley.

Where there's dirt, there's life (hanging on). Alpine flowers growing on the scree slopes of Lineham Ridge.

The valley we've been hiking through the whole morning... In the background are the majestic mountains of Super Natural BC. The rock wall in the middle ground represents the Alberta/BC border. Festeburt Mountain is the square topped mountain to the far right. We started the day climbing over the pass to the right of Festebert...

Mind blowing panoramic view once we gained the ridge...

On the other side (to the north east), was a great view of Lineham Lakes.

BTOG hoping he won't be blown into the next valley.

Walking southeast along the ridge, gaining more altitude...

Looking back... Lineham Lakes visible just over the edge to the right...

Highest point on the ridge (2514 m). The multi-tiered Rowe Lakes are below, directly ahead in the next valley.

A different look at the Lineham Lakes to the north east.

The continuation of the ridge walk to the southeast.

Getting closer to the three Rowe Lakes. It was all an optical illusion because the trail would make a switchback and take us to back a point under the ridge summit. One of the craziest trails I've ever hiked I'm telling you.

Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis) grazing by the trail.

The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep is the provincial mammal of Alberta... I did not know that...

Nearly all the way down to the floor of the Rowe Lakes valley. This was the summit of Lineham Ridge.

Looking southwest towards Rowe Lakes and the Akamina Highway.

Phew! Made it down to the valley floor. You're looking at the Lineham Ridge summit directly ahead. Pretty good workout either way from north or south. From here the trail to the Akamina parking lot was a highway: wide, sidewalk-like, and thankfully downhill. Final day distance was 17.9 km. Estimated (park warden-suggested) time: 5.5 hrs. Actual time: 11.5 hrs. Yes, we were either really slow or park wardens are really fast...


Q: How would you plan on completing the circuit?

A: The Tamarack trail does not form a true circuit. If you don't have a vehicle, you'll have to hitch to either trail head and back to town afterward. Traffic to either trail head seemed pretty good in the summer time. Getting a hitch shouldn't be a problem... Not sure during spring or fall though.

Q: Should I hike the Tamarack trail clockwise or counterclockwise?

A: If hiking in the clockwise direction, prepare for a really, really tough first day from the Akamina Highway to Lone Lake. If you're driving in from Calgary and hiking first day, you're in for a late late finish. Better idea would be to camp out by the trail head the night before. We walked in the opposite direction. It was logistically better for us. Easier couple of days of hiking before monster Day 3. Plus, we could got back to Calgary at a decent hour (midnight, ugh).

Q: Did you see any bears?

A: No and yes. No, not out on the trail. Yes, on the side of the road. On the way out of the park, we (with dozens of fellow park visitors) saw:

a black bear (Ursus americanus) AND... a couple of kilometers down the road,

a grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)...

Q: Which segment of the hike would you recommend I do if I don't have three days of time...

A: I would probably recommend the hike up to Lineham Ridge via Rowe Lakes as a day trip. If you are a robo-hiker, you can do the whole circuit in 2 days. We bumped into 2 women who did this (in the counterclockwise direction).

Q: Why do your panorama pics look weird?

A: Thanx for asking... the answer is general photographic incompetence on my part...stemming from lack of an up to date version of photoshop (above CS2), a camera set to aperature priority and auto white balance... Still not a bad attempt I must say. Feel free to click on each panorama to get the "imax" feel...

Q: What were the exact dates you hiked the Tamarack Trail.

A: We hiked from August 15 to 17th, 2010.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park: The Tamarack Trail - Day 2 of 3

The water supply behind the Snowshoe campground. Someone should really bottle this water and sell it for big bucks... Strike that last thought. Lets just leave it alone and not wreck the ambiance.

Snowshoe Wardens' Cabin. Apparently there are only 2 such backcountry cabins in Waterton. What a shame... As an aside, didn't get much sleep the night before. I think it was just too quiet out here. That's the pathetic city boy in me speaking...weak. Anyways, that's the BTOG stretching the ol' legs before setting off on Day 2 festivities. (photo courtesy of Khalid)

Beyond Shoeshoe, the fire road ends and the single track steadily climbed through the forest towards the Twin Lakes.

As we got closer to Twin Lakes, a rather imposing rockwall loomed ahead...

It took us about 1.75 hrs. to reach Upper Twin Lake. From here the trail would take a sharp turn southward towards Rowe Lakes. The impressive rock wall in the background represents the Great Continental Divide or the Alberta/BC border. The rock wall would be our constant companion until Rowe Lakes.

Just around the corner was Lower Twin Lake...(photo courtesy of Khalid).

Lower Twin Lake...

Steep switchbacks took us high above Lower Twin Lakes and towards the first pass on the trail. Tamarack trees were beginning to make their first appearance...

On the pass summit, we spotted a unnamed lake down in the Peck's Basin. From here the trail plunged down into the next valley.

Twenty minutes later, we were having a snack on the shores of that unnamed lake...

From the unnamed lake, we contoured around the next mountain, catching a glimpse of Blakiston Valley...

Blakiston Valley...

It took forever, at least in my mind, to get to Lone Lake. In actual fact, it took us something like 5.5 hrs to cover ten K from Snowshoe Cabin... The undulations (slight as they were) in the landscape just knocked the stuffing out of me. Weak. Lone Lake was a jewel of a lake. So, that certainly took the sting out of any aches and pains my body was experience at the time.

Lone Lake Cabin.

I'll leave you with this pic of sunset over Lone Lake. I experimented with a set of Galen Rowell graduated neutral density filters. I like the effect. Very nice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park: The Tamarack Trail - Day 1 of 3...

Red Rock Canyon, Waterton National Park...on the way to the Tamarack Trail.

Hope everyone is having a great summer.

Just came back from Waterton Lakes National Park where I hiked the breathtaking Tamarack Trail with my friend Khalid.

The Snowshoe Trail Head. By the way, the entire trail was asphalt surfaced. Just kidding. The objective on the first day was to hike 8.5 km along Bauerman Creek to Snowshoe campground.
The first day was an easy, relaxing walk in the forest. The relatively flat trail was actually an old forestry fire road. Twin tracks! So, we were able to spend most of the time engaged in lively discussion over world cultured...

A lot of people find forest hikes boring. I really don't understand why. Lots of beautiful flora and fauna around to keep us photographers happy. Especially these pretty pink flowers. If you're really lucky you might have a random encounter with a bear!! Wouldn't that be grand?
Rather bizarre looking fluffy plants... photo courtesy of Khalid

Sacrificing life and limb...(Photo courtesy of Khalid)
...for a pic of these puff ball-like fungi!!
Pretty butterfly/moth...(Photo courtesy of Khalid)

Pretty yellow flower...
Occasionally, there were pretty waterfalls along the way...
...and glimpses of spectacular crags.

After a 4.5 hour stroll, we reached the Snowshoe campground.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Tamarack Trail...

Source: Parks Canada

The Tamarack Trail is actually a combination of three trails: Twin Lakes/Kootenay Pass to the north and Rowe Lakes to the south.

We decided to walk the "loop" counterclockwise: beginning at Red Rock Canyon (refer to A on the above map), camping at the Snowshoe (B) and Lone Lake (C), and finishing at the Rowe Lakes parking lot beside the Akamina Highway.