I feel like I still need a few days to take in all the excitement and feelings I felt this weekend. I still feel pretty speechless about the whole experience. I finally got out for my first BIG hike! We hiked, climbed, scrambled, fell, slipped, got burned by a plant, got cut up, got lost, and made it back!
On Saturday, we left the city around 12 and headed out to the Kananaskis. I have never been that far down highway 40, it was a beautiful drive! There was traffic leaving Calgary so we had a bit of a later start than we wanted but it still all worked out. At about 2:30, with our packs on our back, and our boots nice and tight, sunscreen on – we made our way along the trails to Rawson Lake. My pack was definitely heavier than carrying my son in his carrier, which I think is probably about 30lbs all together, I wish I weighed my pack before we left haha! The hike up to the Lake was .. up! ha! It was hot, and sweaty but we made it there. A lot of people were coming down as we headed up but when we did get up – there was still quite a few people there. It’s always nice and exciting to see other people out on hikes, the random hellos and smile – I like it 🙂 Once we got around Rawson Lake, and to the base of where Sarrail Ridge was, we decided it was time to eat before we made the steep trek up. We busted out the Jetboil and had our “Mountain house” meals. Surprisingly – they tasted WAY better than I thought they would. We soaked in the view and what we had already done, had some good laughs, let our food digest, packed up everything and put our packs back on.
We made our way up the mountain, and it didn’t get any flatter, just steeper, and steeper! The cool thing was though – when you would stop for a breath, turn around and look at how far you have come up already. When the mountain on the other side of the lake you thought was huge – you are now above! So you keep going to see how much higher you can get 🙂
We saw a group coming down and they told us “its worth it!”, that helped us push through the rest of the way. Of course I am not the direction person, so the pathway veered off in two directions and I ended up taking the wrong one the lead us to have to climb up a little but of a rocky spot instead of.. taking the pathway that we could have just walked up ha-ha, I told them not to let me lead!
I could tell we were getting close to the top so I started to move faster and faster as I could see the peaks of other mountains starting to appear. Once I got to the top – I felt instant relief! It was SO worth it! I have never seen a view like that, I was on top of a ridge, and could see the view on both sides of the mountain and I could see for miles out! It was unreal. I have never ever felt so small in my entire life.
We continued to the summit area of the mountain but we were loosing daylight and I was a little nervous that if we couldn’t find a flat spot on the summit, then we would end up climbing down in the dark and – I was not up for that. We found a flat spot on the ridge and set up camp for the night.
Wow, are the mountains ever scary at night! The sun set, and the clouds were like a blanket rolling in for the night. The wind picked up and – it felt like our tent was just slapping us in the face. Good thing someone brought baileys to help warm us up and put us out for the night ha-ha! definitely helped ease the worry! Around 3 or 4 in the morning I think the wind died down and we tried to wake up for 430 to watch the sunrise, but the clouds were still pretty thick at that time. We set the alarm for 530 and again – nothing, so we just decided to rest up for our hike down.
We are up at about 8 something in the morning, I think, and starting up the Jetboil again and having our Mountain house – eggs, ham and peppers breakfast with coffee! I am having breakfast and coffee, on the ridge of a mountain, with a stunning view and great company! What a way to start the day, absolutely unreal!! After breakfast, we packed up and cleaned up our area.
All packed up, packs on our back again and ready to head out for another day. We ended up going down – the other side of the mountain this time. At first – it looked like a good idea, looked open.. like it would be a quicker way. well – it was not! It was the complete opposite!
Lots of sliding down, my friend went to put on his gaiters and .. . lost them some where under the thick snow blocks in-between the rocks! We watched his pack tumble down the mountain twice, mine once, ha-ha. thank goodness they eventually stopped in ok places, we slipped and rode on some snow – got some ice burn on my bum! – slid down with the rocks, climbed down some mini cliffs here and there which were big enough for me especially when the ground below was crazy steep! The weight and size of my pack totally threw me off and was hard to move around so I had to take it off a few times. THEN! Just when you keep thinking your in the clear and its going to get easier from here on out – you get another surprise. The mountains have got to be the most deceiving thing EVER! When we thought we had been through the worst of it all (for the 7th time, ha-ha!) We came to another stop, and that was it for me. I was not climbing down anymore cliffs, I didn’t want to stay where we were, I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want to climb back up or back track at all, I was starting to panic a little… ” I can’t do this and I am NOT going down there!”. (When we started going down this way, it was open, lots of crevasses, but as we got down more and more, there was bigger rocks that you could tell had fallen and were harder to walk through, lots more broken down trees in the rocks, and the crevasses were getting deeper and deeper and I got more freaked out). The next cliff we came by was – big! All you could see was the end of the rock, and then a HUGE wall of mountain across the way from you, I didn’t even go up to the edge this time and look down because there was just no way I was going down. So our option was to climb out and bush-whack. I was ok with that! We climbed up and the bushes and trees were so thick – we were just getting scraped up. I didn’t care though, I just forced myself through there excited for the forest the rest of the way down, and eventually we found just that!
Once we got out of the really thick bushes and trees, we got into the forest with the tall, tall trees and were finally able to start making our way down a little better. Lots of fallen trees and dead mushy trees, logs to climb over and crawl under. Next thing you know, my friend is saying “Ouch! my legs are burning! did something bite me”? I thought maybe he just scraped his leg, but when I went through, I definitely felt the burning sensation almost instantly, it felt like it zapped you almost and then just burned! We figured out it was these plants, they were about knee high, that was burning our legs. We got out of those and continued down the mountain. All we got from those plants was a bunch of bumps that looked like mosquito bites that were super itchy and stung for a bit. For me, it went away by end of the next day. Freaky though! never had a reaction to a plant before. As we got closer to the bottom, we could start to see people walking by on the pathway!! Pretty sure we started running down best we could, without tripping and laid down on the pathway laughing our faces off!
We headed to lake quickly so we could wash off our legs and arms, faces, everything of bugs and dirt and did a tic check. Felt so nice to sit, relax and eat by the water for a bit, and laugh at the experience we just had. We wanted to go to Hidden Lake and Aster Lake, but we were both so exhausted, we decided to save it for another day. 🙂
I cant wait to get out and do this again, I mean, maaayyyybeee not the EXACT same thing, lol but it was all worth it and too much fun!