This hike was done on Saturday August 13, 2016. Curtis and I did this hike.
The day started off rough. I woke up with a slight sore throat but figured it was because we slept with the fans on… Little did I know it was the start of a cold. I was dragging my feet from the start of the hike; I had no energy to do much but I forced myself to do this hike (after an attempt last year left Sandy and I in the Amphitheatre). It was a brisk morning at Norquay. They were setting up for a wedding when we parked, so there were some chairs etc to avoid; nothing major. We followed the path like last time. I remember the switchbacks being longer for some reason. Within 2 hours, we were at the Amphitheatre fork.
In the Spring, Sandy and I missed the shortcut to the ridge due to the snow but this time, we found it easily (it’s a very well worn path). The trail up the ridge to the rock field was fairly easy but quite steep. We lucked out and had tree roots most of the way up that we used as steps; it definitely made things easier. Once we passed the tree line, it was mainly rocks (large, large rocks). It was around this point where the trail ended and we had to find our own way through, using the Cairns for markers. There are two routes: one is up over the peak and down the other side, the other is around the right side. If you want to conserve your energy, choose going around the side. If you want a nice view, go up and over.
Once over, you are faced with a few rock bands to navigate around. The trail is easily visible, so there is no difficulty there. Then up the side of the next peak (when I first saw it, I thought we had to go up and over again, but turns out the trail only goes around the side). There are some sections where it’s both steep and loose rock, careful footing is key here. We stopped and had some food on this side before making the turn to the saddle. The wind started to blow at this point, so we were constantly taking our jackets off and putting them on. Once we crested the corner, the wind died and the sun started to cook us. We were still hungry so we ate our lunch (a B.E.L.T from Tim Hortons…..). By this time, my cold was very evident it was here to stay and my feet were bleeding (note to self: cut toenails before every hike, my nails ended up digging into the side of the toe next to it), AND we were both getting tired. With about another 1.5 hours to go (only 2km roughly), we decided that it wasn’t worth pushing ourselves to the limit. We walked up to the saddle and looked out over the Amphitheatre behind us and the valley in front of us. It was amazing to see both Banff and Canmore in the same view.
After lunch we started to make our way down. My feet were sore and Curtis’ knee was bothering him, so it was good that we didn’t push higher… We made it back to the car in one piece, but had issues walking. I should note that there were lots of bear warnings. There had been a few grizzly bears spotted in the area and so everyone was on the lookout for them. We didn’t see them, but we did see signs (mainly scat and lots of it!). It wasn’t until Tuesday after that they decided to show themselves to some hikers. This hike is prime territory due to the amount of berries in and around the mountain.
Even though we never finished to the peak, I am nearly satisfied with this hike. It was about 19km long and 8 hours without the peak. It was a difficult hike.