Since I've talked about some of the locales in Banff in my previous posts, I figure it's a good time to talk about my trip there in 2014. I'll preface this by mentioning there was a huge forest fire that occurred just before my trip, and unfortunately for me, this also made for some hazy photographic conditions.
I went with my cousin, Nolan, and his wife, Sylvia, to Banff in the summer of 2014. I actually did very little research about many of the attractions there as Sylvia is an excellent trip planner, but had I done so, I would have immediately realized that part of what makes Banff such a great place lies with its hiking trails. This normally wouldn't be an issue, but on my trip to Sulphur Mountain, it definitely was. Why, you ask? I wore flip flops that day =(
Now, to be fair, I did have a chance to avoid hiking in flip flops as there's a gondola that takes you to the vantage point if you're willing to pay for it.
Of course, being the big spender that I am, I refused to pay the Gondola fee, telling myself that much of the satisfaction of the day would come from "beating the mountain" by doing the hike in shoddy foot wear.
Looking back, it obviously wasn't a good idea to do a 5.5 km hike in flip flops, but I assured Nolan and Sylvia I'd be able to keep up, and off we went. About 25% of the way through, I was already lagging behind, and at about 50%, I told them to just go on ahead without me. The climb itself shouldn't have been that bad (it's done through a series of switchbacks to help mitigate the elevation factor somewhat, although the same switchbacks also add to the overall distance of the hike), but footwear, coupled with lugging my camera gear, made it a much tougher proposition than it should have been.
That's really the only picture I took during the climb that gives a sense of the elevation - I spent the rest of the time huffing and puffing, and also cursing my lack of foresight. Eventually, I did finally make it to the top (probably 45 minutes after Nolan and Sylvia got there), and was treated to some amazing sights.
As I alluded to earlier though, the haze created by the forest fire did cause some issues with regard to photos as it was basically impossible for the camera to resolve all the detail that was veiled by the hovering smoke/ash. It may be cliche, but you know what they say - when you're given a lemon, make lemonade, and I did the best I could given the circumstances. The three of us spent a bit more time up there enjoying the sights, and we all snapped as many photos as we could, then decided it was time to go.
Luckily for me, Sylvia wanted to experience the gondola ride going down, and at that point, the mountain had convinced me it was worth paying the fee, so we took the gondola down, and that pretty much ended our trip to Sulphur Mountain. When I think about all the sights we saw at Banff, I'd probably rate Sulfur Mountain as one of the lesser ones (mainly due to the fact that the other locales were just incredibly scenic), with the hike itself being somewhat boring as you're just navigating through a series of switchbacks. That being said, the view is still amazing, and definitely worth experiencing if you're in Banff for an extended period.
As for beating the mountain, I'd call it a draw =P