Thursday, 9 August 2012

Lightning-ed out again (but pikas!)

The weather forecast for Wednesday called for a sunny morning with the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms and highs of 26°. We decided to take our friends Amy and Michael up a mountain -- Fairview Mountain (next to Lake Louise) which I haven't climbed in a few years. This mountain is accessed via the Saddleback trail.

Weather forecasts are often wrong.

It was never sunny this morning. It was overcast when we left the house at 8:45, and got darker as we got to Lake Louise. It was a dreary, humid and cool (only about 14°) as we climbed up.
A dreary look back to Chateau Lake Louise
It started to rain about 10:30 as we got close to the saddle.
Looking back at the ski area. Rain gear installed.
We crossed the saddle for a look at Mt. Sheol and the Sheol Valley.
1,500' deep valley
The rain was falling pretty steadily by this time, so we hid in the forest to eat lunch. While we ate, the rain fell harder. Amy, the forever optimist, kept saying it was clearing up. Just as we got to the base of the upper mountain, ready to climb to the peak, thunder and lightning started. We (along with a half dozen or so others considering climbing) bailed and hurried off the mountain. The rain poured down for a while as we descended, then suddenly quit and the sun came out.
Looking back up at the blue sky and the mountain we wanted to climb
However, it was still pouring the other side of the valley.
Pouring on the ski area
Frustrated by once again not making our objective, we decided to visit Fairview Lookout on the way down.
The Chateau in the sun
We also stopped at the lake itself -- us and about 1,000 other tourists.
The peak we didn't climb 
Victoria Glacier 
Canoeists. Lots of canoeists.
Michael had never been to Moraine Lake before, so we went down there to see the crowds (and the Valley of the Ten Peaks), too.
6 of the 10
The Tower of Babel, not one of the 10
Lots of folks were climbing the rock pile to the lake's best viewpoint. Some were not, however, using the trail, preferring to ignore the signs to stay on the trail and instead climb down to the logjam at the mouth of the stream draining the lake. I watched at least one person fall in. 
The logjam 
A dumb dad leads the family across
But the rock pile was home to foraging pikas and begging columbian ground squirrels.
My faves 
Stuffed cheeks. Hope they weren't stuffed with potato chips
Yes, people were feeding the squirrels. I don't think you could feed a pika even if you tried; they're too shy and you could never get close enough, plus they only eat grass.

It was disappointing to get rained on, get cold and wet, and especially so not make a peak for the 3rd time this year. Amy & Michael are only here for another couple of weeks, and Fairview is a spectacular peak that I know they would have loved.

Still, had the weather forecast accurately predicted the weather we actually ended up having, we wouldn't have gone out at all. And we would have missed the pika, Michael seeing Moraine Lake, watching tourists being silly, or eating Amy's "baking". So it was a good day, too.  

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