Monday, September 17, 2007

Headwall Lakes

14km 6265ft trailhead 7675ft upper lake vert gain: 1400ft

This weekend we went to Headwall lakes, a series of tarns in the southern end of the Kananaskis range. The walk up the valley was more than pleasant with much of the understory turning colors. The fireweed was at its zenith for color.

about 5km from the trailhead is a fairly steep and gnarly section that demanded total care and attention but after about 100 feet of vertical, the trail evened out into a fantastic Karst landscape of weather eaten limestone cut into fantastic shapes. At about 7000 feet, just above the treeline, the landscape becomes quite lunar.
One of the many oddities above the treeline was a chirping sound that seemed to change direction. It was as though there were pan-dimensional chimpmunks trapped in eddys in the space-time continuum. Suddenly at a moment of interphase, the probability wave collapsed into what looked like a cute rodent with big ears and no tail.
Our friend google explained that this critter was a Pika and that they are renown for their ability to throw their voice in every direction. This same rodent, also found in Japan is the inspiration for the Pokemon character Pikachu. Luckily we weren't aware of this at the time for an encounter with living anime would have had deleterious consequences to our mental health.

At left Suzanne pauses at the top of the upper headwall. The range in the background is the continental divide. All told, the trip was 15km roundtrip with 1500 feet in elevation gain. The cirque guarding the tarns has a very wild quality about it. Suzanne gave this trip 7 chewy bars out of 10 but I was more fascinated by the karst as I would give it an additional scoop of gatorade powder.

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