Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 52

Saturday 23 September 2017

Nose Hill parkrun, a Farmers Market, and an ice hockey match

Quite close to Peter and Cassie's house is the venue for Calgary's only parkrun. We joined a healthy turnout of 83 runners on a bitter morning, including Stuart and Kathryn from Delamere. It was good to see mainly locals enjoying the parkrun experience and the views of snow clad Rocky Mountains to the west. This run is well established, having been going for over a year. Despite the altitude (over 4000 feet) and the hilly course, Sue managed her fastest ever 5 km, in 26.11. Unfortunately I succumbed to an old injury.

Hot baths back at base soon had us raring to go on our next excursion - with Peter and Cassie to a farmers market for a schnitzel lunch and a few goodies for everyone. David and Carol were there, and presented us with an appropriate memento from Calgary. Thank you for that, whichever clone of David we bumped into. (David is either stalking us or has numerous clones dotted around Calgary; I'm sure I spotted one of them at the parkrun!)

It was a lovely drive back through the city on a beautifully sunny day.

Sadly it was time to move on from Peter and Cassie's to visit Mark and Julianna and their young children, William and Adeline. They live about twenty minutes from P and C, in the south west sector of Calgary. They haven't featured previously on these pages as it's more than ten years ago that I enjoyed a week with Mark and Julianna around Innsbruck and Mayrhofen. I still have to 'process' the photos and create a photo book...

I was at university with Mark's mum Anna, who is also in town with husband Dale. Readers may recall that Sue and I walked a section of the English Coast to Coast path with Anna and Dale a couple of years ago. They are in the process of moving to Calgary from Weyburn and have a partially tenanted house nearby.

So it was quite a little reunion that took place after Sue and I had enjoyed a minor excursion into nearby Edworthy Park.

We then went with Anna, Dale and William (nearly 3) to watch the Calgary Royals in an ice hockey game against 'Canada', at the Olympic Park Winsport centre. The stadium seats about 2500 people but only a few select 'in the know' spectators were present for this free entry match. The Royals are a young amateur mens team. They were up against the Canadian women's team, who won the match 3 : 1. One of the women goalkeepers, who has represented Canada in the last two Winter Olympics, is one of Anna and Dale's tenants.

Back at our new base we enjoyed a chicken meal with delicious apple pie to follow.

Then it was time for bed. Except for William.

5 km in 26.11 for Sue and 26.51 for Martin, plus sundry bimbles.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 51

Friday 22 September 2017

Calgary Zoo

David joined Sue and me and Peter and Cassie for a walk to the local zoo, via various walkways around Calgary and an excellent café bakery.

We started down Memorial Drive, which has many memorials to Canadian war victims, then we crossed a controversial footbridge costing $26m. Soon afterwards, another bridge costing $26m was crossed, this one not controversial. Which do you prefer?

The café in an old mattress factory offered an interlude between the bridges.

The zoo was brilliant. Today's pictures show some of the inmates, including one of two very frisky snow leopards, the stars of the show. 

We got the C-train back home for tea, and then adjourned to an old hangar, which houses the Wild Rose Brewery, for a satisfying beer and dinner.

12 km to and around the zoo.

Friday, 22 September 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 50

Thursday 21 September 2017

The Royal Tyrrell Museum

Today Sue and I drove to Drumheller to one of the world's greatest dinosaur museums, in an area that is only second to China with regard to the richness of dinosaur fossils. We spent a good four hours there.

The museum was opened in 1985 and is a fascinating place with excellent information boards and humorous videos.

Apparently there are around 10 to 14 million species currently in existence on the planet, and another 4 billion have once existed but are now extinct. So over 99% of species that have lived on earth are extinct. The museum at Drumheller receives around 2000 new specimens every year, some of which relate to previously undiscovered species.

Paleontology is a fascinating subject.

Then we visited some hoodoos that were as underwhelming as the dinosaur museum was overwhelming. Miniature versions of those we have seen in Cappadocia and in France.

We didn't walk anywhere much, but Charlie managed about 330 km in the rain, a record for this trip. There were some long straight roads. Then a most pleasant evening with Peter and Cassie, a large piece of salmon, and some fizz by way of a late anniversay celebration.  

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 49

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Canmore and Calgary

Sadly our stay at Bow Valley Motel is at an end. We left it until the 11 o'clock deadline to leave, which gave us plenty of time to pack up, visit the laundry, and in my case enrol with a dentist and acquire some penicillin to hopefully contain my dental problem, confirmed by x-ray as an abscess, until we get home.

We learnt that the motel has been sold and the new owners will shortly be gutting and refurbishing it, thus denying tourists the current affordable, if not cheap, cost of staying in Canmore. A shame, especially as the plans include closure of the attached laundry.

It was an overcast day, with precipitation on the nearby hills, if not in Canmore itself. So after our farewells to the helpful receptionists and housekeeping staff (apparently they are sorry to see us go as we have provided good entertainment for them), we topped up Charlie and took him to an Enterprise (car hire) office for a health check. He passed with flying colours. 

Lunch provisions were acquired and we set off to explore some trails around Canmore that we'd been saving for the rainy day that never arrived. There's a lovely trail beside the Bow River, and lots of good paths around the town to enjoy. The Engine Bridge Loop revealed a good number of Common Mergansers on this stretch of the river. To our surprise, toadflax was coming into flower on the banks.

Lunch was pretty luxurious today as we had a jar of mayo and some potato salad to supplement the usual goat's cheese buns, crisps and boiled eggs.

We passed Canmore's iconic sculpture 'Big Head' on our way to the high street, where Jason Leo Bantle's photograph gallery had some very tempting works of art. It was a struggle to exit without buying anything, apart from liquid refreshments next door at the Good Earth café.

Before we knew it, the time had come to drive to Peter and Cassie's house in Calgary, with the Rocky Mountains slowly disappearing in the rear view mirror. It was good to see Cassie again and we are happily ensconced in their spacious house.

Pictures:

• Yesterday outside the motel
• The Engine Bridge, from coal mining times that ended in 1979. Now part of the Town Trail
• View from Engine Bridge
• Engine Bridge
• Larches by the Bow River at Canmore
• Lunchtime
• Bow Valley Motel
• The Big Head

8 km around Canmore 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 48

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Not West Wind Pass, and West Wind Pass

A cold clear morning soon became overcast whilst we breakfasted and Peter, David and Richard drove up from Calgary.

Today's walk would be a short one, so tea and coffee were provided before the five of us set off up the gravel of Highway 742 in Peter's Subaru. (Sigh of relief from Charlie!)

It wasn't too far to the West Wind (named after a river, not after the prevailing weather) trailhead soon after the Driftwood turn.

We headed up a good woodland path that revealed glimpses of the reservoir behind us. A left turn was taken because we thought we should be going higher, whereas the more worn path headed down.

Up and up we went. This turned out to be the path to Rimwall, a summit of just over 2500 metres. On the way up we met an American girl from Pennsylvania. "I apologise for my country" she announced. We apologised for Brexit. It has become a habit. Most people just feel sorry for us. The Canadians are lucky, they seem to have a few politicians who command a morsel of respect.

After chatting for a while with the American, who was the only person we saw all day, and pausing for twelveses (it had been a late start!), we continued up steep ground on a vague path guided by cairns. At about 2220 metres we reached a point where the vertigo free members of the party could look down on West Wind Pass from above. Some bighorn sheep had the same idea before trotting off to easier ground.

An easier line of descent was taken before we left the path and bushwhacked down, via an excellent lunch spot sheltered from the wind with lovely views down to Spray Lake, to meet the correct West Wind path as high up as possible. Richard chose to descend from here as he fancied a snooze in Peter's car.

The rest of us enjoyed a sometimes airy but generally easy path that ascended 170 metres to the correct pass, a wide gap in the ridge at about 2070 metres. There were fine views and lots of photography took place.

Then we took the easy path back down to the car, passing what I recorded yesterday as being Spruce Grouse. I still think they are Spruce Grouse but David prefers to think they are the rarer Sharp-tailed Grouse. Sadly no pictures on the phone.

Lovely views as we descended, in particular towards Spray Lake.

Back to the Motel for tea and biscuits, rudely interrupted by a call from Karen who we met in Estonia. Peter, David and Richard went home and Sue and I stretched our legs by the creek.

The Thai Pagoda restaurant proved a good place to meet up with Karen and Erik. We had a lovely evening with them, and some good food. It was great to meet up at last!

Today's pictures:

•  An early view of Spray Lake
• Twelveses
• At the high point of 2220 metres
• Spray Lake from our high point
• Three vertigo free members of our group at the high point
• On the rough 'off piste' descent
• Two views at the West Wind Pass
• Descending
• Dinner with Karen and Erik.

7.5 km with 700 metres ascent, in 5 hours. Then 4 km by the creek in 22.15. Charlie had a day off.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 47

Monday 18 September 2017

Helen Lake, Lake Katherine and Cirque Peak

We decided to chance another visit to the Icefields Parkway. We've been up and down the road before, to comments like "boring road lined by trees". This morning there was no smoke, low cloud or rain to obscure the views, an example of which is today's first picture, of Castle Mountain from the car.

After a 115 km journey we parked opposite the Crowfoot Glacier that we couldn't see last time we stopped beside Bow Lake.

It's a 6 km walk up to Helen Lake, mostly out of the trees but even when in the trees there were peripheral views to the Bow Peak summits. There was also a short 'burnt' section, and another place where it looked as if the trees had been felled by an avalanche.

The cool wind didn't deter us and we enjoyed a cuppa by the lake with a chatty Dutch couple. Our broken flask has been redeployed given the cooler weather and seems fine as long as it stays upright. Otherwise the contents empty into Sue's rucksack.

We continued past some tame marmots to a ridge. Lunch was taken.

Despite the prospect of some wintry showers, Sue chose to climb to the summit of a nearby peak, Cirque Peak - 2993 metres.

Whilst she was doing that I continued along the ridge to a viewpoint where I met a trapper from "the north". He said he had been gobsmacked to see a wolverine on the way up. All we'd seen were marmots, the usual vermin, some small birds such as Black-headed chickadees, and an unidentifiable bird of prey (probably a golden eagle).

From the end of the ridge I descended over rough ground to Lake Katherine and on towards Dolomite Pass, which I may or may not have reached. Anyway, the scenery did look Dolomitic, there was no quick prospect of a different view, and I didn't want to keep Sue waiting.

A good path led back to our lunch spot and soon after that I spotted Sue near our Helen Lake rendezvous point. I dashed down, just making it before she had time to finish the tea. Her ascent had been successful, and a bar of chocolate disappeared by way of celebration.

Then we descended back to the car on the lovely path. Views were now limited as we were on the edge of a snowstorm. We passed some ptarmigan like birds that were probably spruce grouse.

Driving back, via dinner in the Irish pub in Banff, we passed through evidence of the snowstorm that missed us. We were glad to get home, but disappointed to receive an email suggesting dinner with Karen (Superwoman skier who we met in Estonia) and Erik tonight. The horse had bolted. We hope to meet up with them (they live in Canmore) before we leave.

Today's pictures:

• Castle Mountain from the car
• Setting off
• A typical trailhead sign
• On the woodland path
• Crowfoot Glacier
• Burnt forest
• Helen Lake
• Lunch (1)
• Lunch, with Cirque Peak
• Lake Katherine
• Avalanched forest
• On the Icefields Parkway

19.5 km with 650 metres ascent, in 6.25 hours. For Sue, 400 metres extra ascent but about 3 km less distance.
Charlie managed an impressive 230 km.