Saturday, 4 August 2012

Easy Hikes To Kill The Time

The Banff area has lots of small easy hikes that you can easily do in a day, when you’re just a bit bored and want to get to now the local area better. I’m not going to give you a boring trail description that you can get from one of the many the hiking folders you can pick up at the info centre. I’m going to describe my first attempt on these trails/hikes.

Tunnel Mt.

The first couple of weeks I was trying to get use to the altitude here in Banff, compared to my 80 meters above sea level at home in Denmark. I see my self being pretty fit, but that appeared false, when you bring me up to 1300 meters above sea level. My roommate who have lived here in Banff since the winter season start in October was going to hike Tunnel Mt. and I was keen on going with him, because Tunnel was one of the few hikes that I didn’t get around to, when I lived in Banff the last time.

Tom Bob and I were just hiking at a normal pace, towards the trail start. Tom Bob was explaining to me how the start of Tunnel Mountain trail probably would scare some people of, who aren’t used to hiking at higher altitudes. That comforted me a bit, when we got to the upper parking lot. I was already dying, if it was because of the 30 degrees heat on that day or just the 200 meters walk from the lower parking lot to the upper parking lot, I am not sure (I blame it on the altitude and heat now that I have hiked it a couple of times, and easily get to the top without breaks). But that day I had to take several breaks whenever we got to a nice shady place on the trail. When I look back on it, it is a bit embarrassing that I had to stop every 5-10 minutes to have something to drink and catch my breath. It normally takes half an hour or so to the top, that day I think we spent 45 minutes.
When we FINALLY made it to the top we had a nice break in the sun, had a little sunbathing session, and enjoyed the amazing view over Banff town and the surrounding mountains.

The walk down of Tunnel Mountain was easy and I enjoyed it compared to the hike up that day. And I on the way down promised my self that before I leave Banff in November I will be able to run up that little mountain, that took my the breath away from on my first hike. (I can tell you already now a month later I can easily hike it without needing any breaks – and in a pretty good pace, so I hope that I will be able to run it before I leave!)
But I’m looking forward to hike Tunnel Mt. with some of the coming seasoners for the winter season 2012-2013, and know that I will not be judgmental, because I can still remember my first time. 

Sulphur Mt.

The first time I hiked Sulphur Mt. was in March 2011, there was still a foot of snow on the trail, but my best friend was here visiting from Denmark, and I wanted to show her as much of Banff as possible, so of course she had to see Banff from above.
I remembered Sulphur Mt. being so hard, that I would probably never do it again. But the two of my roommates were hiking it 3 days later than I had hiked up Tunnel Mt. and I could not resist walking with them, when they agreed to wait for me, if I felt like dying again.

Again it was a stupidly hot day, 27 degrees, so we brought lots of water, and got ready for the hike. We walked downtown to take the bus out to the start of the trail (only because we’re lazy, but I would recommend doing that), it is a long walk out to the trail and gondola.
The first 2 kilometres/30 minutes of Sulphur Mt. did not cause me a hard time at all. It was hot, yes, and we needed some breaks to just drink some water but we were not exhausted. After the 2.3 kilometres we came to a little detour trail, we could see people walking around out there and decided to try it out, we were in good spirit, and I had not been complaining a bit about the hike yet. Actually I was doing really well. When we got to the end we saw a little spring, where we filled up all our water bottles with icecold spring water, SWEET, and we put our heads under to cool down a bit from the heat that was surrounding us.

After the little break we were more than ready for the rest of our hike, we were close to be half way, if we should believe the trail sign in the bottom that says 5.4km to the top.
I remember the last half an hour out of the 1 and a half hour being the hardest. So we have done a 3rd part of the trail we concluded and started hiking again. Easypeasy hike the follow half an hour, but when we hit that 4km point, where the trail has a steeper point we all started to get tired, and I was for the first time in the need of a break to catch my breath. It was good to know that there was only 1.4km left, and we could continue in high spirit.
I started a trail tracker/GPS when we started the hike at the gondola/bottom of Sulphur Mt. and I am still not sure, if my GPS is fucked or the trail sign at the bottom is telling the wrong distance, because the sign said 5.4km my GPS said 7.03km to the top. No matter what, we got a bit frustrated when my GPS passed the 6km mark, and we were still not at the top. But no way that we were turning around now, we could at least see the top, and it only took us another 15minutes to get up the last 1km. So my second time on Sulphur Mt was a good hike and definitely easier than the first and than I remember it.
When we got up there we walked around to the different viewpoints and just enjoyed the view and sun, just chilled out. We spent a bit less than 1 and a half hour on this 7km or 5.4km hike, and I’m gladly doing it again, know that I’ve erased the first horrible time I hiked Sulphur from my memory.

After we had enjoyed the sun for half an hour and got a bit to eat in the cafeteria at the top of Sulphur Mt. we decided to walk down on the opposite site of Sulphur Mt. to try something new. (Again the sign isn’t really that correct if I should believe what my GPS says. Sign: 8-something, GPS 10km to down town Banff, 11km to Cedar House.)
It is a REALLY beautiful way to walk down, there’s no trees around the trail like on the opposite site, where most people hike Sulphur from, so the view is just amazing. It is harder to walk down then you would think though. After our little spontaneous “let’s hike Sulphur Mt.” and then ended up with hiking Sulphur Mt. and walking down the other site, in total 7km of hiking up, 11km of walking down, plus how much we walked around on the top…… I was DEAD! I went straight to bed at 9pm., fell asleep and the day after I was so sore. But I will definitely do it again, if anyone is up for it!

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