Today was much bigger than I expected it would be! Distance was bigger, elevation gain was bigger sunny weather was bigger, temperature was bigger, even the love was bigger. The hike up to Aylmer Lookout from Lake Minniwanka in Banff National Park is known for being open for smooth sailing business earlier in the season. Today had two major purposes for me. Number 1 - I was keen to end this day feeling pleasantly depleted. Number 2 - It was time for me to pay it forward. A few years back Adventure Designer and Agent-X took me under their way. I am thankful for what they did for me then and the guidance they still pass on to this day. They showed me the way and I learned and grew and flourished. It is now my turn to pay that forward and today I donated.
On this May long weekend I knew the National Park would be busy so we went for the early start. My sense is as the summer weekends approach, the early start will need to be earlier. We geared up and got on our way from the Lake Minniwanka parking lot. The view was pretty nice right at the get go.
entering the canyon
Stewart Canyon Walls
The first eight kilometers are easily accomplished as there is no great elevation gain, just many minor ups and downs. Most of the trail is open to views of the lake. I knew we were in for a nice day weather-wise and I was surprised how warm it got even though it was still a morning in the mountains.
at the junction and where the steady steep climb begins
We were slower yet persistent in gaining the elevation through the forest. When we popped out into the open I felt a burst of energy and was happy to finally arrive where the views go on forever.
my Aylmer Lookout summit shot
The weather and scenery were glorious up here. I spent more time admiring the views than I did being settled down and dining. I fueled up enough and then took some time to let the child within come out to play. A few of my friends found ticks working their way over their gear so we hung our packs on one of those scraggly ugly beautiful trees.
When all was said and done on the summit, we began the descent back down to Lake Minniwanka. As we were descending many hikers were making their ascent. I am glad we went for the early start and did have 100% ownership of the summit for the majority of our time there.
We passed through the campground and walked to the edge of the water.
It was a refreshing place to hang out for a few minutes on such a hot day.
at Lake Minniwanka
After completing just over 25 kilometers I was able to smile and be happy again when we arrived back at the car. I wanted those boots and socks off my feet and that bar-b-que beef wrap in my stomach. Then it felt so nice to sit down in the car on the soft seat and lean back. I feel so pleased with how today turned out. There was much to be thankful for so "Thank You Very Much" for this day!
Note: I read on a number of sites and in a guide book when I was doing my homework to prepare for this day where the elevation gain was posted as being approximately 570 meters. I completed this event a number of years ago as a bike & hike and was quite sure it was much more. The 570 meters is the distance from the low point to the high point and does not take into consideration all the ups and downs which makes the total cumulative elevation gain much higher.