Mountains of Fun
Trip Start Feb 16, 2011
113Trip End Jun 11, 2012
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The start was moderately steep, but we tackled it at a cracking pace (mainly because I was feeling tired and I just wanted to get it over with). We stopped at Mirror Lake in the shadow of the Big Beehive before continuing on and diverting to have a look at the Little Beehive. The day was warm and we were all in need of a rest so we were glad to see the teahouse appear on the lakefront
After 11 hours sleep I got up still feeling tired, but still ready to go on the Grand Nature Club for the week. This week we were heading to Paradise Valley which lies between Moraine Lake and Lake Louise just down the Moraine Lake Road. I had 3 passengers jump in the car (nice little 2011 Ford Focus) and we drove to meet the others at the car park. It was quite a big group this week and it included a few people from out of town. The hike up the valley was pretty easy, but there were hiking restrictions in place due to bear activity so we had to stick together as a group. The first stop was Lake Annette halfway into the valley and after 2.5 hours we reached the end of the trail at the Giant Steps. It was a nice place to stop for lunch alongside the river so we had an international exchange of various kinds of jerky and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the Chicago couple
Because the couple were only in Banff for one more day they were keen to go up and over the Sentinel Pass to Moraine Lake instead of returning via the valley. So Tom a backpacker from Gloucestershire and myself joined them to make up the numbers and made our way through Horseshoe Meadows to the start of the rock scree which marked the beginning of the pass. The trail which presented itself to us was a 500m scramble up through patches of snow to a 70 degree energy kicker climb to the ridgeline. The scramble was slow, but steady as we paused to take in views of the valley disappearing below us. Needless to say we were overcome with joy to reach the top which was a saddleback separating Mount Temple and Pinnacle Mountain.
The distinction between the two sides of the valleys couldn't be more different in contrast. While the hillside we had just scrambled up was a giant rock scree, the other side was more of a steep alpine meadow with a few lakes below and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. We paused for a well earned break and took in the wonders that surrounded us. The route down was much easier and the well established switchbacks allowed us to stretch out our legs. Once we reached the bottom we entered the Larch Valley Forest and made good time down to Moraine Lake where it had started raining. We stopped into the cafe for a well earned drink and I got a lift with a nice Italian couple back to the car so I could pick up the others.
Tom was only in Banff for one more night so I offered to take him out for a few beers at the Elk and Oarsmen after we stopped at the Community Hub for a free hot dog.
This morning I got up to return the car and do a few errands before meeting a few people from work and around Banff for a packed lunch ontop of Tunnel Mountain. Its funny that now I've done bigger mountains, Tunnel Mountain doesn't seem so big even though its around the same height as Mount Lofty. It started raining a little, but luckily it didn't pour down while we were on top. I had the first practice of Dragon Boat racing on Lake Minnewanka at 6pm, so I rode my bicycle around 10kms to get there. It was hard work, but good fun to get 20 strangers into a longboat and try to syncronise paddling at different speeds. The festival is this weekend and there is one more practice which I'm looking forward to as long as it doesn't rain again!
Time to relax?
Lake Agnes Teahouse including Little and Big Beehives
Distance: 12 km return
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 367 m
Time: 6 hours
Paradise Valley and Sentinel Pass
Distance: 18.4kms one way
Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Elevation gain: over 700m climbing the pass