Monday, August 22, 2016

to banff and yoho we go

July 8 we flew to Vancouver to spend time with the Kutneys and see what British Columbia had to offer in terms of hiking, camping and nature in general. Spoiler alert: BC has a hell of a lot to offer in the nature department and everyone needs to experience it!!
First we drove to Banff National Park. We arrived the night of July 10, saw Lake Louise and slept in a hostel. On the morning of the 11th we rented helmets and began the Sentinel Pass hike starting at Moraine Lake. I got a glimpse of the unreal turquoise water at Lake Louise the night before and Moraine Lake further increased my amazement of the incredible blue water. 
Sentinel Pass was a series of steep switchbacks to the Valley of Ten Peaks (literally you could see all ten peaks it was gorgeous) which was a nice break before more switchbacks to the actual Sentinel Pass. We took a little break and proceeded to scramble up Mount Temple (enter hiking helmets) and got about a quarter of the way up before turning around. I was too cold and scared and there was snow at the top. According to the Ynna Hiking Scale and based on my fairly active lifestyle at the time, I would rate this hike a 6.5/10 for difficulty and 9.5/10 for reward. Elevation gain was pretty big and the first series of switchbacks was the hardest part for me. Views were really gorgeous though and worth the struggle.
Light scrambling up to Mount Temple before I got too cold.

Sometimes you need a mid-hike nap.

We camped in the Lake Louise campground the night of the 11th and 12th. On the morning of the 12th we took a shuttle to Lake O'Hara and began the Alpine Circuit hike. We had to reserve our spot three months before because the number of hikers is limited for this area. The terrain varied from straight up rock and boulder piles, grassy valleys and lots of little streams we had to hop across. Ynna Hiking Scale gives this a 5/10 for difficulty and 10/10 for reward. Truly incredible unobstructed views the entire hike. I got annoyed at how many times Preston had me stop so he could take panoramas.

I'm definitely not a hiking expert but my biggest tips are kind of no-duh but important:
1) Wear layers and avoid cotton. My biggest mistake was having a cotton tshirt/tank as my thinnest layer and the one closest to my skin. I sweat a lot and the temperatures on these hikes vary. Luckily when we went it stayed a pleasant 50-60 degrees but I'd sweat a lot going up steep inclines then cool down again and be stuck shivering with a damp base layer at a high elevation. Best piece of clothing I brought was my Outdoor Voices Catch-Me-If-You-Can hoodie. Perfect weight, great to wear alone or as an extra layer for more warmth.
2) Bring a raincoat! Check the forecast. We were lucky and only got some drizzles on the first day and got caught in the rain for about an hour the second day even though both days called for nonstop rain.
3) Bring snacks and water. Duh. I'm very obsessed with salty/sweet ratios so I had to have granola bars, gummies, pop tarts AND beef jerky, chips, nuts. I know there are fancy REI hiker snacks you can get too but these are just my faves.
Banff and Yoho were so beautiful and I recommend anyone who loves the outdoors to visit these parks as they are some of the most scenic places in North America.

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