One of the primary reasons that I came to Calgary this summer was to spend time in the mountains. I really love the mountains! I lived in Kananaskis, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies for a year and have also enjoyed living in or near mountains in Japan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. I figured that part of this year’s shake up should involve some mountainous experiences. With only brief visits to these mysterious mammoths in recent years I’ve missed them. Today I’ll talk about a recent hike I did with some fantastic outdoor enthusiasts in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains.
It should come as no surprise that it took just 17 days from my arrival in Alberta for me to get on a hike with a group of new friends who I met through Meetup.com. I found the group called, “CORA” – The Calgary Outdoor Recreation Association – and saw that they hosted multiple hikes and events. This particular hike looked challenging enough to be really interesting to me, so I registered and was put on the waiting list. I was impressed to see that the organizers require that you prove your experience level before being allowed onto the more challenging hikes. They seemed well organized and they were.
I graduated from the waiting list to the ‘RSVP’d’ list and met up with the group at 8 am on a very rainy Sunday June morning at the University of Calgary. We carpooled out of the city and got to know each other a little on the drive.
Although I’ve done some moderate to advanced hiking in my life, I didn’t come to this one completely prepared. To date, all of the hiking that I’ve done in snow has been by surprise. But I covered the essentials with a new pair of hiking shoes and by bringing 3 litres of water, protein snacks and enough food for a horse. I was told to bring gaiters but didn’t own any (or even know what they were). I was told to bring waterproof clothes, but left my jacket in Ontario. I was told to bring micro-spikes, but also didn’t own any. How much snow could there be? After all it’s already June! It turns out that doesn’t matter at 2500 metres in the Canadian Rockies. There was plenty!
Fortunately, the group of friendly, advanced hikers were happy to share equipment and I was all decked out and ready to go.
Even before starting the hike I felt invigorated. It was exciting to drive towards the mountains, to see them getting larger, and then to finally be on a windy road that lead to our secluded trail head. There is just something about mountains that brings me to life no matter what the weather is saying. And on this day, the weather was crying! Yes, we were going to be getting wet on this hike but it didn’t matter. Everybody shared their enthusiasm for the opportunity to get to the top of Tiara Peak. It took us just 2 hours and 10 minutes to arrive to the top of Belmore Browne Peak, but then we had to decide if we could continue along the ridge and up towards Tiara Peak despite the poor weather…
If you can’t view this video, click here.
This was my first hike since Table Mountain in South Africa last year and I didn’t know or really even think about how my body would respond. From past experience, I have found that if I just feed the machine, it will produce. It did.
Without too many more words about this hike, I’ll just invite you to view my video about it. This video is a slideshow followed by some video clips of our adventure. We got thwarted very close to the summit due to some thunder and there was quite a bit of snow. Of course we wanted to summit, but when someone’s hair stands up – because the cloud that you are hiking in the middle of is so charged with static electricity – it’s time to head back down! So that’s what we did.
And by doing so, we were rewarded with some really fun glissading – sliding down some snow – as part of our descent. We enjoyed this so much that all 11 of us actually hiked back up part way to do another run, as the video will show.
Long story short about 750 words later: I know what invigorates me, it’s mountains. What invigorates you? Find what inspires you and GO DO IT! (or at least take the first step by signing up to that course / class / program / [fill in your blank] that you’ve been avoiding starting). It’s not selfish and it’s not wrong.
Exploring your interests leads naturally towards allowing you to make your greatest contribution on this planet.
Now get out there and PLAY!