I wasn’t sure if I should bring the dogs or not. I was off to the Kootenay Lookout on Sentinel Mountain with Ben but not by the route we took on Monday. I wanted to explore the Blue Trail, which I’d been told was very steep. The pink trail is fairly steep in spots and if this was steeper – could the dogs do it?
Last night I settled on not taking them. This morning I changed my mind. They’d already missed out on some good trips this winter, both because of depth of snow and because the KMC doesn’t allow dogs – why have them miss out on this one? Besides, I figured if it was really steep, between Ben and I we could get the dogs up. You know, a judicious shove or boost here and there.
The morning was grey and chilly. What happened to our promised 26-degree temperatures? They came soon enough. Ten minutes after leaving the house, I was driving into sunshine and warmth. I regretted not wearing my shorts – but only for a little while.
We parked at the trailhead and were heading up by about 9.30 a.m. The dogs leaping effortlessly over the steep initial bit of the trail. And so up we went, peeling off our layers minutes after setting out until I was down to my T-shirt. Yay! First T-shirt hike of the season!
Shortly after that we got to the nice bit – the not straight uphill, easy up and down bit – I heard Shanara bark – and then a noise – another bark – big crashing noise – something moving. What? “A bear,” Ben said.
Oh great – Shanara’s barking at a bear. Wonderful. Happily, it moved off and let us be. Minutes later, Abby dashed off and came back with a deer femur in her mouth, which she periodically chewed on but mostly carried. All. Day. (sigh).
And then we came to the blue trail. Next adventure. The trail was sketchier than the pink but there it was. For ten minutes. We looked – goddess knows we searched. But failing to find any more signs of blue, we bushwhacked in the general direction of where we thought the trail ought to go. Ben thought I should lead. Ha! After a good deal of climbing over rocks, blowdown and escarpments, I suggested that we abandon the quest, which was becoming dicier by the minute, and climb straight up because we would intersect again with the pink trail. Then, from the top, we could pick up the blue on the way down. Maybe that would be easier.
Sure, Ben said. So we headed straight up and quickly found the pink trail which we followed to the lookout. What a day: sunshine, clear skies, warmth. It was bliss. And Abby didn’t even try to steal Ben’s snack!
Next: find our way down. We followed the blue along the ridge until we came to a massive blowdown. But we found a blue marker below. Aha! The trail! But to get to it? That was the rub! We looked at it for a while. “I’m not married to the idea of taking the Blue Trail down,” Ben said.
I eyed the flagging a bit more. “Me neither,” I said. “But I tell you what – I’d love to go to those two other lookouts.” I pointed to two rock faces above us.
Sure, Ben said.
And so we headed up. What I hadn’t been able to see from my vantage point was the blowdown between us and those viewpoints. Holy cow! We clambered and scrambled. It was about this time I was very grateful I was not wearing shorts. Ben, however, was clad in shorts – bright orange and flared out above the knees. Yeah – flared. Don’t ask. I didn’t.
After getting through a particularly rough section where I was stabbed even through my pants we also decided to abandon that trek and head back cross-country to the pink trail. Thanks to Shanara who picked her way along the clearest path – we got there and headed back down.
Naturally, I call this a very successful trip – we explored, we bushwhacked, we reached the destination, we explored some more and came back only mildly injured. What could be better? And when we got to the road at the bottom and I told the dogs to wait while I dug out leashes, they did. Stood still as stones, not even tempted to step onto the road. How wonderful are those girls?
I think they’re thoroughly flaked out now on their beds. Me? I’ve had a bath and the sun is pouring in and making the house warm and cozy. No fire needed today.