Wednesday, 17 September 2014

More physiotherapy hiking

Last week was winter.
A plant in 28 cm of snow
This week is summer. All that snow is essentially gone except up very high, so we took advantage of the spectacular weather to continue my "hiking for physiotherapy". I picked C Level Cirque, a hike that is similar in distance to the wander I did pre-winter up at Sunshine, but has a bit more height gain (580 m vs the 325 m I did at Sunshine). It's not my favourite hike; there's a long, boring forest walk in the middle, and the trail's rooty & rutted. But it's not far from my house, and there's always pikas -- and I had not seen a pika yet this year.

The first stop is always the Lake Minnewanka overlook, only 45 min up the trail. It's at the old coal mine workings.
A spectacular view on a spectacular day
I even got a panorama from that viewpoint.
My house is in that photo (sort of)
It takes another hour of trudging uphill through a not-terribly-interesting forest to get to the next views.
Looking down the Bow Valley to Canmore and my house
Then 10 minutes after that, you get to the cirque -- which is a mighty impressive big bowl of rocks -- and the end of the official trail.
A very big rubble field
If you blow up that picture and look really closely, you'll see a trail leading up the right side of the basin. Follow this and you will get yelled at by pikas in the boulder field...
My first pika of the year
...but at the top is a small grassy meadow of rocks which is pika heaven and an idea place for a sit and a snack.
Monty & Karen making the crest
In addition to the pikas, there are overly friendly Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels, who have obviously been hand fed once or twice (say, by the Dutch tourists we ran into who were feeding them apples).
But mostly there were pikas, at least 5, all industriously collecting grass...
Hard at work 
Quite the mouthful 
The endless searching for green stuff 
Watching me watching him
...filling their middens...
The stash is under that rock 
A winter's supply, or part thereof
Initially, the little dudes don't want to have anything to do with you, and don't like you being around -- so they just hide. But once they figure out you're not going to bother them, they go back to work storing grass for the winter, and stop paying attention to you, allowing some fairly close encounters. One little guy seemed interested in watching me watch him.
He's actually sitting still
Interested & observant... 
...but cautious and ready to run 
The money shot pose
It was a really glorious 26° this afternoon, very summer-like and not at all feeling like fall. Aside from colours turning on aspen, poplar and some avens, there wasn't much in the way of fall colour -- as yet.

But it's coming.

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