Thursday, August 08, 2013

Lost! On Tunnel Mountain!

(The title of the post is intended to be read loudly, with dramatic flair, in a deep announcer voice.)
What with one thing and another I hadn't managed to get out of Calgary to go hiking at all this summer, so last Monday we headed to Banff for the day with a couple of friends. I wanted to hike Johnson Lake again, to see it without all the snow, but when we got there, the road in was closed due to a grizzly sighting. So we heeded the sign and went to Tunnel Mountain instead.
It started out beautifully - the sun was shining and the view of Banff through the trees was lovely.

I'm the only one without an iPhone...
The Banff Springs Hotel
By the time we got around to the other side of the mountain, looking east (-ish?) it had started to cloud over a bit, and the cool breeze was nice.

Not to mention the fact that the light rain was still clearly far away. I wasn't prepared for such an uphill hike - Johnson Lake is rather flat - so I was pretty winded, and when it started to drizzle and we heard a crack of thunder we thought about turning back. But someone coming down said that the top was only about five minutes away, and since we'd come so far we pressed on.
My plan had been to eat our picnic lunch at the summit, but by the time we got up there it was POURING rain so hard I was soaked to the skin. I didn't really mind cooling off, but it wasn't exactly picnic weather, and then the hail started, so we booked it back down as fast as we could go, which wasn't very fast, because it was so slippery.
Drenched at the Summit!

Somehow in the downpour we managed to miss the proper path and ended up on a goat trail that stopped a steep slope that was clearly not the way we'd come up. Frustratingly, we could still see Banff, but not the main path. We bushwhacked around for a while, trying not to slip and break any limbs, and eventually met up with the path again, and by that point the sun was back out and except for the lingering damp, it looked like the storm had never happened. Welcome to Alberta...
I was talking to someone later who knew someone else who'd gotten lost and had to spend a night up there, so at least we didn't get THAT lost!
I was disappointed to find that there isn't actually a tunnel in Tunnel Mountain - CP Rail was going to build one, and then they didn't.
The view of the mountain from Banff.
The rest of the day involved a picnic in Banff, in the sunshine, a hot, crispy, sugary BeaverTail, and a lightening-delayed dip in the hot springs. The storm came back just as we were in line to pay for admission, and they waited half an hour to be sure the lightening was over before they opened the pool again. And on the way back we chased a rainbow from Exshaw almost to Calgary.
Such an adventure-filled day. :) Hopefully there will be more hiking this summer, but likely not till we get to Jasper later this month - stay tuned! This weekend I'm going to the third annual When Words Collide convention, and I'm very excited. I always learn so much and meet interesting people. I went to the first one in 2011, and last year I even blogged about each of the three days. Not sure if that'll happen this year or not, but watch for something about it sometime next week.

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