With a beautiful day for walking promised us for this past Sunday, Jeff and I, and by association, MD, decided to walk the Sypes Canyon trail and continue on through to The M. This is a seven mile walk, with 2,135′ in elevation gain.
We left one vehicle at The M, our destination and with an already near-full parking lot, and drove to the Sypes Canyon trailhead, arriving and setting out at 9:00AM. I should mention that this was after our younger daughter, who shall remain nameless, but who’s prominently featured here:
…decided to rat out on her plan to come with us and stayed home, instead. Yeesh. After I’d made her sammie and everything. Some people’s children.
So, Jeff, I and MD started up Sypes Canyon, which we’ve walked several times in the past. The first bit is uphill and the entire first half of the trail is a series of ups and downs. Every foot in altitude gained is lost until one reaches the canyon creek bed and begins the second half of this walk, which is my favourite part – climbing the far side of the canyon up to the ridge.
And, this was the first time, in allllll the walking we’ve done, when I’ve thought: “Are we already here? That’s not to say that I didn’t stop along the way and even guzzle a bit of Cytomax, but I was astonished to find that when I paid attention, we were at the base of the last uphill to the ridge. It hadn’t been hard. I’d hardly stopped. My thighs weren’t tired. My calves were hanging tough. I wasn’t tired. Yeesh.
Beautiful wildflowers again, of course. Balsam arrowroot was still in full bloom at this altitude:
…and we came across glorious displays of wild lupin, larkspur (with an unnamed white flower), Indian paintbrush, and even an aster this early in the season…
And, the overlook featuring town looking south was as nice as always…
One of my favourite views from up here is across the next canyon and in today’s case, where we were headed, toward The M…
I really do like this scenery…it holds so much potential for walking.
In order to reach the trail that heads off toward The M, the walk continues along this ridge. Our destination was the large outcrop ahead of Jeff and MD…
The trail is more of that delightful shale. Often, it’s a matter of walking on shale turned up at 180 degrees, meaning that we’re walking on the edge of it. This is the part of this walk that I least like. Until Sunday. Even this went along “easier” than usual. I’m not sure I even stopped..
Looking back at part of the trail…
And, at our “lunch” stop; at the convergence of three trails.
We enjoyed our lunch of sandwiches, bars, tea and coffee, but it was too cool to bother with the fruit we’d brought. The breeze up here was definitely cool and we soon layered on. MD enjoyed her lunch of begging (successfully) for ours.
When we’d had enough to eat we began the next part of the trail – the descent to the floor of the next canyon. I’d forgotten how steep descent really is and more than once I resorted to hanging on to rocks and branches while inching my way down. Jeff seems to just take it all in stride. Here he is way ahead and gaining distance.
We were headed down this side of the canyon and up the far side, in the trees.
An idea of our altitude…we’re above so many trees…
Continuing on downward, I stopped to take rest my thighs, which were just slightly beginning to protest, under the guise of taking photos 🙂
Looking back at the rock wall this descent cuts down through…
(The outcrop just to the right of the middle of the horizon was our lunch stop and the path cuts down the rock wall to the right, from that point.)
The path eventually reaches the canyon floor before beginning up the other side. I have to say that this seems like great black bear country…low, full of willows and alders, quiet…I was quite anxious to carry on.
The path leads up one serious climb and then, for the most part, begins a slow descent and eventually joins The M trail. From here on until we reached The M trail, we enjoyed the beautiful assortment of wildflowers…
At one point we met a gal who was walking in the opposite direction. She was without a ride back to her car, left at The M, so we arranged to meet and take her back. This plan worked out perfectly…we were all ready at about the same time.
We also met some other folks, one of whom had been with me on my near death-march through Black Canyon in Yellowstone, last spring. She asked us when we’d started at Sypes and we replied: “At 9.” I hastily added but, we’d stopped for 45 minutes for lunch and we’d stopped oodles of times to take photos….thinking that it must be mid-afternoon by now…
Little did I realize that we’d made this walk in just over three hours, walking at 2.2mph. We were at our car at The M by 12:30. This meant that we’d had “lunch” at 10:30.
I couldn’t believe it.
I’ve been waiting and waiting to feel a leap in fitness. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve read of my many walks, but until this walk I haven’t really felt an increase in stamina. Today, this was all different. Both Jeff and I were surprised by how…dare I say this…“untiring” this walk was. I’m sure last week’s walk to Baldy did us both a great deal of good in building stamina. It was truly a pleasure to walk into the parking lot of The M feeling as if I could do it all over again.
But, I didn’t 🙂
MD fared well. Her comfortable walking distance is now around six mile. Given that this walk is seven with the last half mile or so in unrelenting sunshine, she took a day to recover. I’m pleased to report that she’s her old self again, bathed and rested. This little doggie is a big mass of muscle.