maraoutside

Good morning, you beautiful people! Today you join me on a walk down memory lane, where great hiking stories are abundantly present. I found these gorgeous pictures from a magical late-October 2017 hike. I was also lucky enough to find a journal entry I had written to accompany the pictures from that day!

October 29, 2017

I was out at a Halloween party until 3 a.m. last night, but that didn’t stop me from hopping out of bed at 6:45 am to go HIKING!! I hadn’t been able to tackle them mountains since the beginning of August, so it was a very much needed day out. I was so freaking pumped…do you know those moments when you are so happy/excited that you scream? That was me! Driving out to meet Rachel and Cat, I had an excited bounce the whole way and couldn’t help but let out a few screams!! I literally can NOT contain my joy.

I met the other ladies at Rachel’s house and then we headed out! We had a few misadventures on our way…i.e. we planned on filling up with gas in Mountain View, only to realize the gas station is now in fact CLOSED on Sundays! SO we went all the way back to Cardston and filled up, and then were once again on the road to Waterton. It set our hike behind a bit, but I didn’t mind, because along with hiking I also LOVE drives. So it was a win for me! 

Our timing had yet another complication when we realized that the trail we were going to take to Mt. Vimy (our goal of the day), was in fact closed due to the recent forest fires. So we went back out of the park and onto the Chief Mountain Highway to start at the Wishbone trail. 

There was some kind of magic to the day, and all of us ladies would testify to that! The hike definitely seemed to have a theme…which was…The Lion King. Crazy, I know, but it’s sooo true!! So many of the trees in the flat lands had burned down, and it felt like we were walking through the elephant graveyard! 
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The day was so incredibly beautiful; there was a light dusting of snow, and it added so much definition and Christmasy feelings to the mountains! The trail sure was muddy though! We all almost fell on our faces multiple times…it was so slippery! The coolest thing about the mud was that we could see so many animal footprints! We could easily identify the elk, moose, and some uncomfortably fresh black bear prints, and we also saw COUGAR prints, which I had never seen before! There was also a recurrent print that looked like an elk’s but had 3 toes! My theory: forest spirit from Princess Mononoke. 

 

 

Geeky confession: a part of me loves hiking because I feel like I’m in real-life Skyrim… *Sigh* if only I could wear the vampire lord armour…

 

Because of our timing problems, we decided that we couldn’t do the whole mountain and be back before dark, so we decided to take the offshoot trail to the Lion’s Head…a.k.a. Vimy’s Pimple, as Rachel has lovingly dubbed it. It was a gorgeous little scramble and once we got to the top…our jaws dropped! The view was absolutely insane! The snow looked like a twirly blanket over the mountains, and everything was so bright, crisp, and sparkly!

We took a few pictures and had our lunch. Once we had stopped moving the cold really started to settle in, so it didn’t take too long before we were back on the trail.

Our way down was so much fun. It involved a lot of slipping and sliding down the mud! One of the coolest experiences ever…like ever ever….was when we got back onto the flatlands and as we were walking through the fields we started seeing elk. Soon there were hundreds of elk all around us! Rachel kept saying how they are so beautiful, but even more delicious haha. We kept walking and they kept looking at us like we were definitely on their turf. (Well, because we were). We stopped for a little just to take it all in… they were everywhere! The cows were making this sound that reminds me so much of monkeys! So not what I’d expect. Then the bull came strutting through…what a big guy…with absolutely ginormous antlers! His bugle was fascinating… It was echoey and had such a crystal clear sound to it! The noise in that place was unreal, I mean, with the elks’ monkey calls, and there were tons of geese around us that sounded like they were having a pow-wow! We kept walking and the elk herd moved as we pushed forward… by the way, they have the smallest poops for such big creatures-it’s a scientific anomaly!

As we walked through the heavily burnt areas something caught Cat’s eye, so we went to check it out…and found a partial elk skull with the antlers attached! There were also bits of bone and teeth everywhere…and snail shells… weird!

Because all of the plant life was gone, it made it easy to spot numerous sheds! We finished our hike as the sun set; it was the perfect close to a magical day.

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