|From the summit of Cascade Mountain|
Yesterday was the first hike of the Big Mountain Challenge: Cascade Mountain in the Bow River Valley of Banff National Park. Dan and I were up at 4:45 am to get our gear together and headed down to the Castle Pantry for breakfast. We grabbed our bagged lunches for the hike and met the team who would accompany us on the hike: Jason Billing from Yamnuska; Nathalie, with Parks Canada; and Jeff from Banff Lake Louise Tourism and Real Banff. We signed the requisite waivers, and then we were off. Weeee!
|A beautiful morning for a hike|
|Dan, Jeff and I stopping for a photo op|
I’ve mentioned before that Cascade Mountain is the monolith that one sees at the end of Banff Avenue. It’s huge! The sun was rising as we drove toward the mountain, and I couldn’t help but think: Wow, the first hike of the challenge is here! Both Dan and I were pretty stoked about this.
|The hike starts in the trees before the scramble|
The hike itself was amazing. Once we left the trailhead at the Norquay Ski Resort, we walked through forests until the Cascade Amphitheatre was in view. Then it was all up from there. We scrambled over large rocks, traversed around a false summit, and then made a final push toward the top of Cascade. Along the way, there was much laughter and conversation.
|Mushrooms on the trail|
|Buffalo berries- extremely bitter, but bears love them!|
Dan and I learned lots about pikas, marmots, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. We sampled buffalo berries, which are a staple food for bears. Bears must not taste bitterness, because once the initial sweetness wore off, those berries were terribly bitter! Nathalie was great at explaining some of the history of Banff and Cascade Mountain. We powered onward. Our legs were tired, but we persevered, full of optimism.
|Nathalie teaching us about marmots and pikas|
|Scrambling to the summit|
|Jeff, ascending Cascade Mountain|
It was amazing to arrive at the top of Cascade Mountain and enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Mount Assiniboine was visible in the distance, while the town of Banff, the Bow River Valley, and Lake Minnewanka appeared tiny below. Jason pointed out Mount Temple, which will taunt us until we conquer it on Friday :). It’s still a bit crazy to think that once these hikes are completed, $26,762 will go to The Kidney Foundation of Canada.
|Panoramic view from the top of Cascade|
|I’m happy to be here!|
|We did it!|
|Kidney failure is not an option. www.kidneymarch.ca|
Cascade Mountain stands at 2998 metres. The hike had an elevation gain of 1325 metres, and is roughly a 16.5 km hike. Wow! It certainly was a long day. We began the hike at 6:45 am and reached the summit 6 hours later at 12:45 pm. After having lunch and several photo opportunities, we began descending at 1:25 pm, making it back to the car for 5:30 pm. The descent was brutal, and there were many aches and pains, but that’s pretty common after hiking up and down such an epic mountain.
|It was terrible descending these rocks. Especially with an injured foot :S.|
|There were many filming stops|
Yes, there were segments being filmed for Jeff’s show on Real Banff website (which required a few stops), as well as documenting segments for the Big Mountain Challenge, but regardless, this was the longest hike I’ve done in Alberta at 10 hours and 45 minutes. Crazy! Cascade Mountain, we’ve conquered you. Only two to go: Temple Mountain and Sulphur Mountain. We got this!
|Cascade Mountain- we conquered you!|