Contrary to popular belief, Valentine’s Day is not a day to buy commercialized heart-inspired things (though even in my purist world, chocolate is always welcome)…rather, it is a day to be spent with a loved one… hiking and scrambling up a HEART-SHAPED mountain! Let me interrupt the Tofino holiday account with a glimpse back at last year’s sweetheart of a day….
I have always enjoyed a scramble that includes a ridge walk (a narrow path that connects 2 mountain tops with drop-offs on either side). And Kananaskis has fantastic Heart Mountain, which fits the bill perfectly, with its connection to Grant MacEwan Peak and a third, unnamed peak, with beautiful ridges.
The scramblers’ route can be accessed virtually year round, thanks to the Chinook winds that have a warm, drying effect on the outer mountains of the area, and can be done in an interesting day-long, horseshoe-shaped, loop hike.
Heart Mountain’s name comes from the dramatic geologic dropping of the layers of rock at its peak in what is known as a syncline, that forms an almost perfect heart shape. (It still blows my mind every time I look at a feature like this and imagine the incredibly powerful forces at work that can warp and bend such a massive slab of the earth’s crust, heaving and shoving it skyward in the process with apparent ease!)
The trail is spectacular! A real thrill. Sometimes we were scrambling, using both our hands and our feet… and Seamus simply found his way. It’s amazing what dogs can do to get up a rock face, with no ability to grip and grasp with their paws, and with hard & sharp claws making contact with hard rock a slippery endeavour.
At times, we had to use all 4’s to climb. At the “crux” of the trail/route, Bill had to lift Seamus from below while I hauled him up by his collar to get him up and over a rocky ledge! Poor guy. But he loved it! Sorry… no pic as my hands & feet were tied up!
Climbing, hiking and scrambling our way up Heart Mountain was so much fun!!! We were SO exhausted by the end, as it took us almost 7 hours to get back to the car at the Heart Creek parking lot. But what a thrilling experience it was, and such a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!
Trekking up a mountain’s shoulder, hiking through a flowering alpine meadow, snowshoeing through a dense pine forest, or taking in the 360 degree views from a ridge top vantage point make me feel alive. The experiences in these places give me a profound sense of space and place.
Travel does a similar thing, pushing me out of my comfort zone, exposing me to new experiences, new people and new ways of thinking; it also gives me that sense of space and place in this world.
I believe that life is lived in the contrasts: when you experience simplicity and complexity and life's ups and downs, whether they be physically in this world or mentally in your own personal inner landscape, you know that you are truly living.
The bigger they are, the more there is to explore!