Saturday, October 10, 2009

This rarely fails

Dreary day, pessimistic mom, kids testy and unambitious, aches and pains, chores needing done. The solution? A hike. We went up Payne Bluffs. It's a short hike of 5 km, but with pretty unrelenting verticality. It starts a mere five minutes from our house, so the drive to the trailhead was short and painless. There was a fair bit of snow, and we were under-dressed a bit considering the lack of muscular ambition we were suffering from. But we weren't uncomfortable. And there was lots to see.

Bear scratches show up beautifully on the birches. They're like cats, bears are. They have their favourite scratching posts.

As we ascended we climbed through various types of forest and differing stands of trees. Some were ghostly and skeletal, with dead limbs, lichenous Old Man's Beard, dried twigs and cones.

Some areas were lusher with hardy deciduous trees. The birch, hazel and aspen have turned yellow and at higher elevations are dropping their leaves already. The larch will turn brilliant yellow in another month. The first few fallen leaves are always worth admiring. Especially the unusual worm-like patterns on these ones:

The reward came once we reached the railgrade up at Payne Siding. There was more snow, but the trail was flat. Thrillingly, an hour off a remote secondary highway, a thousand feet up a mountain, signs of history were everywhere.

We eventually reached the location of a famous photo ...

and were rewarded with a view overlooking a thousand-foot sheer drop.

And then we turned for home. Despite bad cases of jellylegs on the way down we were glad to have got out and about in the mountains today. A hike in the mountains rarely fails to lift our spirits and energize us.

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