On the road today heading back to Canmore, Alberta. Not that we need to research Canmore any further as we already have – but it will act, more as, a base camp for researching Banff.. which is my next adventure destination. The reason being is that camping in Banff is for rich people. I am rich in life but that does not work for payment in these modern times. Banff has the most expensive camping yet on our cross country trip. I could get a hotel room for the price of camping in most cities. So.. Canmore is more my style. Laid back, friendly and with some exceptional scenery.. wink wink.
Bro, on the other hand, is off to Jasper, Alberta to do his thing and get down and dirty researching.
So this morning I rolled into Canmore and scored a campsite quickly as it is Friday. One of two left, thank God. I can only attribute my good fortune to the fact I woke up early in a pool of sweat from the hot morning sun, forcing me to pack up and go real early. I left Lake Louise this morning at 7 AM.. still no shower and feeling a bit stinky. When I finished setting up base camp in Canmore the first thing on my agenda was a shower.. how good did that feel you ask? Real Goooood! But enough smelly talk – lets talk about something great like yesterday`s fantastic adventure – makes for better blogging.
Yesterday, I planned an incredible adventure to explore. The hike is referred to as the Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass Trails. It was going to be a two for one hike for this lad. The 12 kilometre hiking trail enjoys an elevation gain of about 1035 metres leading to one of the highest accessed peaks in the park. Anyone who knows me knows I am a mountain summit junkie. It was an experience I will never forget.
The entire trail was uphill. The first part of the trail consisted of 8-10 switchbacks exploring through forests, side stepping exposed tree roots and boulders. The switchbacks led me up and up and up until the trees parted and I landed in a lush valley surrounded by glaciers – the Wenkchemna and Horseshoe Glaciers. The valley was Larch Valley. There were fields of wildflowers, 360 degree views of the Canadian Rockies, glacier-fed ponds and creeks, a slight cool breeze, massive boulders left behind by the ice age and some level ground hiking. Good thing as sweat was dripping from everywhere. It was nice to give the legs a well deserved rest. But it was short lived.. as in the distance you could see the trail climbing up the side of the mountain to a peak. That, I pointed like Babe Ruth, is my destination.
The sight of the peak was an adrenaline rush. I was excited. Without me even knowing, my pace quickened. My legs felt like iron not rubber. My smile broadened. I was eager to get to the top.
At the base of the mountain was a large glacier pond. It was a major gathering spot for many hikers. It was here at the pond where many people decided to end their hike after looking at the trail ahead. I think many of the tourists just about had enough with switchbacks. The climb ahead was daunting for many. For myself it was heaven on wheels.
The first part of the climb consisted of navigating switchbacks over a large rock slide. Boulders, loose shale and patches of snow cracking under my feet with every step. It seemed like every move someone made above me was creating a mini landslide of rocks and shale in front of me and behind me. 6 or 7 hikers were coming down from the peak and I was the only one going up.. hmmmm.
After the slippery rock slope there was the head wall – not the real name but one I used as it reminded me of a hike in Jasper with a similar straight up trail my Bro took me on a while back. The trail looked like a drunk Zorro carved a “Z“ into the mountain – many times over. This portion of the trail looked exhilarating from the base. The air was cooler. The winds picked up. I felt like I was on top of the world. I like this Sentinel Pass Trail allot.
At the top of the pass, I was level with the mountain peaks around me. Temple Mountain next door and two glaciers out my front window. I was speechless. On one side of the ridge were hoodoos and vertical cliffs carved by snow, ice and wind. It was straight down. On the other side – the route I just finished crawling up – the people below looked like ants searching for food and the glaciers looked like I could reach out and touch them. There were only 4 of us on the ridge at this time. All in silence. All in awe. The hardy and the few.
Being moi, I wanted to take my adventure to the limit so I hiked to the highest point on the ridge. Instead of stopping, I continued my hike, higher and higher, until I could go no further. The wind, the chill did not stop me. The massive cliff drop did. But, to my surprise a friend was waiting for me. At the cliff edge a previous hiker erected a rock sculpture. My new friend! (main photo above)
Together – rockman and I sat at an elevation of 2651 metres on the edge of a cliff – not a word was spoken – the scenery did all the talking. My feet dangling over the edge and a grin so big it hurt. I began my dinner. Simple – just a sandwich, banana and gatoraid. But ohhh.. so good after the hike. I took some more pictures and relished the moment as long as I could. The saddest part of the day was leaving the cliff edge and my new friend rockman. The time to leave came way too quick. My fault I started too late as I hiked to Consolation Lakes in the morning. I will miss Sentinal Pass. I will be back to see rockman again!