"I better get while the getting is good" was my thinking when I saw that double digit temperatures will soon be upon us once again. All that white gold that fell on the weekend was still plentiful high up and I wanted to be one with it. So, back to Banff and back to Sulphur Mountain but this time I would not be riding the gondola up the mountain rather I would be hiking up the switchbacks underneath the gondola. It's time to get back to gaining elevation and this is what I choose for my October kick-off.
I arrived at the parking lot near the trail head at 8:30am only to see it closed. I drove to the lower lot and I was so confused with the parking situation. Parts of it were closed and what appeared to be open was filling fast. I ended up in a 4 Hour Parking Limit zone. I took that into consideration when planning my time for the ascent, a visit up there, time to dine then the descent. Until October 15th, it costs half of the full price to ride the gondola down unless it is before 10:00am or after 7:00pm when it is free. After October 15th it is free to ride down. I have four hours to take care of all the business as I am not taking the gondola.
I donned my spikes right at the start and I was thankful to have them. There was loads of snow and the trail varied from hard packed snow to ice covered to a very tiny short section early on of dirt. It felt magical in the forest on the switchbacks. The trees were laden with the new snow, it was so very peaceful and I was so happy to be here.
I have hiked up under the gondola numerous times over the past couple of years but this was the first time I ever experienced the hoots and hollers and hellos coming from the gondolas. The sun felt hot and the air was so fresh, people had the windows open.
my first winter-wonderland experience of the season
I arrived at the former helipad and removed my spikes and put my poles away before going onto the deck that circles the Summit Building. I stayed outside today. This is the view looking towards Sanson Peak. I like the thin line of clouds sitting on top of the mountain peaks off to the left.
This is the view down to Banff with Tunnel Mountain in the center.
A fellow from Halifax captured this photograph for me. I said "this is my playground" pose. He said this was his first time out here and he said it's so beautiful. I said OhOh now you will be moving here. I said that happens to lots of people from the east when they come here. He said no, he is in the ship building industry and there would be no jobs for him here.
view of the deck, the boardwalk, Sanson Peak and Cascade Mountain
beginning of the trail back down just off the cement pad
I need to get down there!
I arrived back at my car with a bit of time to spare. It was at my car that I choose to dine before motoring back to the city. It was crazy busy now and people were lined up for my parking spot. I took my time though as I needed to refuel. Downtown Banff was busy too. This was the view of Cascade Mountain as I waited at a red light.
Of the numerous times I hiked up Sulphur Mountain under the gondola, this was the most enjoyable time. On the descent, I met about fifty people hiking up. I was surprised at how busy it was for a Tuesday in October. Up at the top the fellow from Halifax asked if I ever get tired of the views and this place, I adamantly stated "NO!"