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Published: February 9th 2013
Beautiful start to our walk
An extra-quick drive to Home Road got me to the Montgomery Community Association parking lot by 7:45, well in time for the bus arranged by the Skrastin’s Outdoor Club. Of course there were already other people on the bus, i.e., even earlier than me, and quite a few more came shortly after me. On the dot of 8:00 we left, driving to the Canadian Tire parking lot on Richmond Road. Here Joyce joined me on what became a full bus.
We promptly left at 8:15, taking the Bragg Creek road out of town, then onto the Transcanada. After a while, the president of Skrastins Outdoor Club welcomed us and introduced the organizer, Wolfgang, who described the three hikes on offer today. Joyce and I (and most others) had already read about them on the website. At my request we signed up for the easiest and according to Joyce the most scenic hike, to Sundance Canyon from the Cave and Basin parking lot in Banff, with a total of 11 km.
The bus ride presented a visual feast. Huge cumulus clouds with dark bottoms and soft white tops floated over the bright spring-green fields, still wet with the frequent rain
Bright spring colours startled my eyes.
storms this year. On the horizon, growing ever larger, the mountains gleamed in purpley-steel greys tipped with gleaming glaciers.
Clouds were heavy in Banff, particularly on Sulphur Mountain, where the other two hikes were situated along the gondola route. At last, the bus drove us to the Cave and Basin parking lot, only to discover that the road is closed due to the renovations of the facility. A short extra bit to walk in didn’t seem too onerous and arrangements were made to meet us later at the bus station in town.
After walking on the road for a bit, we were happy to move onto the pathway through the trees. The air was fresh, the temperature was worthy of a jacket, and the greens were a delight to the eye. Fairly soon, however, the rather muddy trail was churned up by horses that had been on it. After a really mucky stretch and a slippery little bridge, we found a way back up to the road. All the rest of the way was on pavement. Still the birds twittered, and a few people searched with their field glasses. The sky developed more blue and the sun shone
Tumbling water accompanied us.
through the trees and bushes. Indian Paintbrush was the most prevalent flower.
The end of the road was marked by a picnic site and biffies. We walked along a supposedly closed pathway right along Sundance Creek, up to a picturesque bridge. With all the rain, the Creek dashed along at a great rate, foaming white for its whole length. Joyce and some others thought hiking the “Loop” was worthwhile, even if it might be a bit wet.
Our personal packed lunches were now welcome, accompanied by gentle conversation. (Ham on a bun with little carrots from Ontario, peanut butter and jam, and an apple) About half of us decided to walk the “Loop” with Joyce.
The “Loop” path was stony and a bit steep but not particularly difficult. The views of the Creek stopped me many times – rock overhanging the foaming waters, black trunks and limbs stuck at odd angles in the creek bed, and rich green lichen reaching right down to the stream edge. The distant views featured the classic mountain panorama as the backdrop to the tumbling waters. The return part of the loop was forested rather than rocky, and even more precipitous despite
Sun and shade on our pathway
the switchbacks that returned us to the picnic site.
Our extra walk took almost an hour, during which time the others had started meandering down the road to meet our 3:00 target for the bus. Even with several good conversations, we were able to keep a fairly good pace to meet the others at the beginning of the “Marsh Loop” without their waiting too long. Our leaders decided this “Loop” was also worth exploring in spite of dampness. Indeed it was beautiful, following the banks of the Bow in full flood. Green on green shadows delighted my eye although photos really didn’t capture the reflections. In a few places the river was possibly less than a foot below the path.
The path came to a closed section, again forcing us up to the road. From there we walked into Banff, passing large new houses and residential complexes. Some people wanted to avoid Banff Avenue shoppers, so we marched along the back street to the bus station. Due to some mix-ups, the bus didn’t pick us up until 3:45. I didn’t care as the exhilaration of the day stayed with me for hours.
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