Five gals from the GiG joined five gals from the Canadian hiking group for a fabulous 13-mile day in the Snowy mountains.
The day started at 5:30 a.m. meet up at 4Bs, driving tot Eddie's Corner for a quick break, and then getting on trail at 8:30 a.m. The hike up the 2500 feet of elevation at the beginning of the day over four miles got our heart rates going and made some of us wonder if we could finish 13 miles when the first few felt daunting, but everyone made it the whole way without too much difficulty.
From the first few steps to the last, we were treated to hosts of flowers (see list at right). The larkspur, lady slippers, white Richardson's geraniums and bluebells really stood out. However, the Pipsissewa (otherwise, known as the Prince's Pine) did elude us all day.
Besides a brief break out to a scree field, the first part of the hike is in the trees until we reached the top of the ridge, that has 360 degree views and on a good day, one can see nine mountain ranges, including the Rockies in Canada and the Wind River range in Canada.
Today, the broad ridge walk, while pretty, didn't produce the usual stunning views, due to the smoke coming from the 113 wildfires in Saskatchewan. But we still enjoyed what we could see, especially the glances we had of Crystal lake.
The Ice Caves didn't disappoint, as the formations were stunning, if a few had fallen, either due to warm weather or vandalism. We explored the cave for about 45 minutes, taking pictures of the icy stalagmites and stalactites.
We only saw four young men right after we left the ice caves. Otherwise, we had the trail to ourselves, with no one on the Grandview Traverse side.
After the caves, the hike follows the broad ridge, going up and down, revealing more views of the surrounding island ranges and the plains. The ridge then gives way to switchbacks as you descend at a more gentler angle than the climb. About halfway down is the Grand View pinnacle, where we all posed for pictures overlooking Crystal Lake on a bit of a precarious ledge.
The last four miles is a bit of a slog going down the rest of the mountain and swinging to the east side of the lake and then back again. By the last mile that has some uphill, we couldn't wait to spy the cars; however, the brush had overgrown the trail, so our leaders overshot it by a half mile, so Mary and June walked even more than the 12 miles.
We arrived back at the cars at 7 p.m.--what a welcome sight-- and headed to Eddie's corner for dinner as we were all tired and hungry. We got home around 10:30, so we didn't leave any daylight on the table.What a wonderful day with friends and meeting new friends.
Who went: Gig--Mary, Susan, June, Gail,Colette,Katie; Mountainview: Linda, Lorna, Laural, Laverne, Laura