This month marks a year and a half since our local area got caught up in the global pandemic that, among many other things, made world travelling near impossible.
We’ve made up for this by trying to find some room between the bad news, ever-shifting-work-life, and many cancelled plans to get away on some local escapes.
This summer was no exception, and over my blogging break we found ourselves in Canmore, a small town nestled into the Eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, where numerous small adventures were had, including a certain last minute attempt to climb a very tall mountain.
for whatever one photo is worth:
Stand on the main street of Canmore, Alberta and look towards the towering range of mountains standing to the south of town and you wont help but see a prominent jag of rock protruding high into the sky, standing with a sentry-like pride over the valley below.
That peak had borne many names over the years and stirred it’s share of controversy for the same, but locals now almost uniformly refer to it as Ha Ling Peak.
We spent the better part of a full week in Canmore in July.
We’d rented a small hotel room near the center of town.
We wandered on foot to grab groceries or breakfasts or beer or silly thing tourists buy when they visit small towns on vacation.
We loaded up the car to drive into the wilderness to tackle family-friendly hikes with the puppy and the teenager.
We hiked, relaxed, and ate, avoiding the heat and smoke as much as possible, while trying to make the best out of a local vacation in an admittedly beautiful place to be trapped during a global lockdown.
On the last night of our trip, sitting on a patio eating an early dinner, looking down that same main street, my wife asked me if I’d done everything I’d wanted to on our little family getaway.
”I’d like to climb Ha Ling … someday.” I replied. “But I guess we’re out of time.”
Most people set aside a full day, starting early to climb to the eight hundred meter saddle, and a further slog up to the summit and peak. It was just after five pm and we had at best four hours or daylight left.
“How far could we get tonight?” She asked.
”I’m staying at the hotel with the dog.” The teenager objected.
”We could go up as high as we can and give ourselves an hour to come back down before sunset.” I suggested.
Shortly after six my wife and I were standing at the trailhead in our hiking boots.
There are inherent risks in trying a new trail of moderate difficulty outside of the normally travelled hours. If something goes wrong while you are up and alone on a mountain with an encroaching night… well, that’s bad news.
We knew we wouldn’t reach the summit, but being fit and adventurous we gave ourselves two hours to go up as far as we could then come back down. We agreed: we’d hike until my GPS watch read exactly one hour then we’d turn around and hike back down leaving a good thirty to forty-five minutes of cushion for the sun to set behind the mountains.
And off we went.
About thirty minutes in we’d reached the first viewpoint.
At exactly an hour I could see the second a hundred meters or so ahead on the path.
We reached the half way point up the mountain and a few minutes over the half way point of our agreed time. We took a blurry selfie with light failing on the the smoky vista behind us. And we hiked back down along the slippy path, found the car, and were back at the hotel before the last sliver of sun had vanished behind the rocky crags in the distance.
It may have only been half a goal but it was easily a full adventure.
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