Pictured above: Cliffhanger inspiration with Grassi Lakes in the backdrop.
A couple of weeks ago Meagan’s mine at Fording River had a shutdown for a week so we though it was the perfect opportunity to go on a little road trip to the Rockies. Initially the plan was to go for 7-8 days but after realising how expensive camping is with reservation/park fees it had to be cut to 5. Sacrifices to be made when on the Fernie wage haha :p
The first stop was Canmore, about a 3.5 hr drive North West of Fernie and home to Nakiska ski resort. It’s hard not to be impressed by the mountains as you drive in, I mean I’m used to living in and being surrounded by them daily but the peaks up there were amazing! We wasted no time in exploring them, driving straight to the trailhead of Ha Ling Peak aka Chinaman’s Peak, named after a Chinese cook who won a bet that he couldn’t summit the mountain in under 10 hrs (so Wikipedia tells me).
The 3.5 km hike, although short in distance was very steep with over 700m of elevation gain up to the 2400m peak. We made the journey up in just over 2 hrs in muggy conditions and were treated to some fantastic views of the valley below. After a quicker hike back down, we made our way back into town to pick up some supplies before spending the night at Wapiti campground, a quaint little spot off the highway and relatively serene despite being located a stones throw from the golden arches and a Timmy Horton’s.
The next day we decided to give the legs a relatively lighter day and hike around Grassi lakes and have a game of frolf (frisbee golf for the uninitiated) at the Olympic Nordic centre. Although the weather was overcast, we were still able to see the beautiful colours of the lakes and enjoy a snack whilst watching some locals rock climbing. The game of frolf was also enjoyable however extremely challenging with the course being much more technical and difficult than the one we’re used to in Fernie. We called it a day after the rain came and Meg had a little stack on the path haha.
After another night at the campground we rose early to head to Banff, only a 45 minute drive away, directly to Sulphur mountain just outside the heart of town. Serviced by a gondola that takes you to the top, we decided to hike the mountain from the car park instead and reached the top in just under 2 hrs, unfortunately my coffee mug didn’t make it all the way with us due to a steep fall off a cliff (RIP, and it was full!). Coffee thermos accidents aside we enjoyed the view at the top and after a quick snack ran down the same trail in about 30 minutes. The cardio was purely to offset the amazing Indian dinner we would have at Masala restaurant later that night where Meagan enjoyed her first Lamb Saag.
After an interesting mornings breakfast at Two Jack Lakeside campground (highly recommended) we made our way towards Morraine Lake and Johnston Canyon. I say interesting because, as we were eating breakfast by the lake, we saw a black bear on the other side slowly slink into the water and then swim across to our side. It was only 100 or so meters away and once it disappeared into the forest we high tailed it back to our camp, worried it would be attracted by the muffins we were eating or the bacon our neighbours were cooking up.
Morraine Lake (above left) was a bit of a mission to get to, not because of the distance but by how busy the carparks were. We were told to wait as they were full and after being told the same thing at Lake Louise just up the road, we tried our luck 20 minutes later and luckily landed a spot right at the front. The lake itself was pretty impressive with its still water and the giant peaks surrounding and you can see why it’s one of the most photographed spots in Canada. It is however very touristy and to get away from the crowds we hiked the short Consolation Lake trail which was also a nice spot (above right).
Unfortunately our next stop on the trip Johnston Canyon was closed due to a fallen trees/debris that had damaged the boardwalks. This was a shame as it was also right next to our campsite for the night. To fill the rest of the day we went on a few smaller trails to some lookouts spots and enjoyed a cuppa on an evening drive through the scenic parkway. It was a nice drive through some areas that had been ravaged by bushfires in previous years but were now flourishing with young evergreens and wildflowers. It was a nice way to our trip as we drove back to Fernie the next day.