20150302-Sulphur Mountain by Cosmic Ray

In the whole month of February, I went outside to play on 5 of the 28 days – this dismal count was due to being sick, and also being a bit down. So instead I spent some time with the treadmill (224km) and kept to my bed. My 5 days were spent as such: my running partner and I did Glenmore Reservoir and Fish Creek, I walked to and from the grocery store once (yes, I’ll say that counts, ha!), and the other two days I finally got out to the mountains.

Since it’s been a while I just wanted to keep it simple. Friday after work J and I headed to Cave & Basin (C&B) with T, T who is filming some footage for a journalism school assignment, which will be a 3 minute feature on me & my running goals this summer! I don’t know who would really want to watch anything about me. If you do watch, and the footage makes the cut, you will be able to tell that the running parts from Friday night are totally staged. I’m not even dressed for running. It was icy under the bumpy snow so my footsteps are teeny tiny. I probably look a bit in need of clothes that fit. Anyway I don’t look or feel the part of a hard-core athlete. Or of any sort of athlete.

The evening was fantastic though. Crisp and sharp and fresh with a dusting of new snow. Perfect. I was reminded of why I love the mountains.

Since the  filming took some time, by the time we hit the junction to Sulphur Mtn it was nearly sunset and about a half hour later, dusk came and the moon lit up the snow. We decided to turn around and headed for a dinner of beavertails (all), coffee (J and T), hot choc (me), sandwiches (J and T), and cranberry cheesecake (me, for tomorrow) in Banff. Of course during coffee we talked about everything and all the distance trails we want to do this summer and created an epic to-do list.

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Breakfast of champions, cranberry cheesecake. Saturday morning I headed back to C&B the “birthplace of Canadian National Parks”. The frost from the sulphur pools was incredible! And the rare view of the garter snake at this time of the year made me feel like I’d received a favorable message from the Headmaster of Nature, or something like that.

Early morning along the Vermilion Lakes
Early morning along the Vermilion Lakes
Cave & Basin by the Visitor's Center
Cave & Basin by the Visitor’s Center
Steam rising off the hot springs
Steam rising off the hot springs
Garter snake
Garter snake hanging out half on the ice and half in the water. The springs are its hibernaculum (wintering grounds), I found out later. Little black fish were swimming around it.
The gorgeous delicate frost
The gorgeous delicate frost.
The hideout
The hideout at the end of the boardwalk
Carved graffiti all over the hideout
Carved graffiti all over the hideout’s walls
Looking out over the lakes towards Cascade
Looking out over the lakes towards Cascade
Following the Sundance trail along the lakes
Following the Sundance trail along the lakes on a beautiful morning

The Sulphur Mtn junction is only 2.7km from the trailhead. Then you go up up up steadily along a now unmaintained1950s road 5.8km. The road was built to service the Cosmic Ray Station and was used until mid-1970s. So unlike most other trails, it’s wide and open and the switchbacks are few but long. There’s a view of the Sundance range and the lakes and its attendant mountains pretty much the whole way up. Unlike the gondola route on the other side of Sulphur Mtn this side is fairly quiet.

Full sun makes it a warm hike
Full sun makes it a warm hike
Looking back
Looking back
Snow caps in the distance
Snow caps in the distance
What is ice without sunlight to make it sparkle?
What is ice without sunlight to make it sparkle?
Connecting with the viewing platforms and gondola station
Connecting with the viewing platforms and gondola station
Stairs and boardwalk feel easy compared to bumpy snow!
Stairs and boardwalk feel easy compared to bumpy snow!
Cosmic Ray Station
The Cosmic Ray Station, built to study, well, cosmic rays (but don’t ask me what that means)
The official plaque
The official plaque, kinds of brings it a bit of dignity considering the other Parks sign is covered in graffiti and stickers!
The postcard-y shot of Banff
The postcard-y shot of Banff

I did think about taking the gondola down and then looping around on the road. But decided to retrace my route back.

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