I always feel a bit awkward popping in on people's logs - I don't know if you remember meeting at a STORM race or two...
I'll be in Alberta for orienteering at the end of next month and have 4.5 days (afternoon Mon 7/25 - Fri 7/29) between events. I'll need to get from Hinton to Canmore, but other than that the time is open. Any suggestions for sightseeing, scenic drives, hiking, mountain biking, ...? I'll have a car and camping gear (but no bike, so I'd need to rent). Unfortunately the Canmore Nordic Center is embargoed until after the last race and I'll need to leave promptly afterward, since that looks like a great place. People who want to do stuff would also be great since I will likely be on my own.
Arthurd would be an A++ navigation coach if you want to go play in the woods one day after work. And I'll bet you and Amik could teach her a thing or two about indoor rock climbing!
And I hope Arthurd doesn't mind me poking my nose into this conversation and offering advice. THE most amazing drive in the world is the IceFields Parkway, highway 93. This is actually the route that Google maps recommends as the most efficient for getting from Hinton to Canmore. bring your national parks pass if you have one or can borrow one becuase it will be required for driving on this section of highway.
This will take you past the Columbia Icefields. Highly recommended. You can hike out onto the glacier a bit, or take a big bus with massive tires that drives right onto it. There is also a new skywalk, a platform that extends out over the glacier for a scenic aerial view (this is fairly new, I haven't even had a chance to see it yet).
Anyway, that is a fantastic road trip!
Then, when you reach Lake Louise, it would be worth stopping in on Moraine Lake (ideally, see it in the morning for the best colour of water in the lake, although this would require staying in Lake Louise overnight. There is a hostel there with reasonable rates, they have dorm beds or private rooms, see if there is availability. If not, the Lake Louise Inn is probably your next best price). From Lake Louise to Banff, take Highway 1A, the Bow Valley Parkway. Slower, more scenic, than the TransCanada Highway.
You can stop along the way at Johnson Canyon for an easy but pretty hike up to the lower fall and then the upper falls. You can continue beyond these and go up to the ink pots. I think it is only about 6 km to the ink pots at the top, or to just see the falls is a short trip.
In Banff, there is a lot you can do. You can go up to the top of Sulphur Mountain for good views of the mountains. There is a gondola for about $30, or there is a smooth easy hiking trail (free) that climbs to the top in about 2 hours or less (a really fast runner can do it in about an hour). You park in the same parking lot as for the Upper Hot Springs if you want to hike up. And there are the hot springs to soak in if you wish.
How much time do you have? I can add more ideas if you want :)
I forgot to mention that if you are in Lake Lousie, you should also drive up to the lake (Lake Louise) and see it, but I would still see Moraine Lake first because it is more spectacular and it is especially beautiful in early morning light. At Moraine lake, take the hiking trail to the top of the rock pile for a great view and photos.
For hikes in the Lake Louise area, Bash might be the best advisor because she lived there for at least one summer and knows it well.
For hikes and scrambles in the Canmore area, you should have Myka take you to Ha Ling Peak or Mount Lady Macdonald (although I see that you are here during the week, so that might be tough with work schedules). I am usually in Calgary for work during part of the week, but am usually in Canmore Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings (plus the weekends) and could help you get out. There are some great trail running groups that do group runs on Saturday morning, Tuesday evening and Thursday evening. The Thursday evening run may be intervals, so you can get an intense workout if you want, with some fun company that makes it more enjoyable than just training on your own.
The Canmore Nordic Centre rents really nice mountain bikes and road bikes and has great trails, I'm not sure if you are allowed to mountain bike there before your race, it sounds like you are not supposed to be there before your event? If you have a vehicle you can put a bike into, you could drive up the Spray Lakes Road to the High Rockies Trail if you want a trail that isn't too technical. If you are up for technical mountain biking, let me know and I can recommend some other trails.
Wow, you are good at tourist advice!
I just love the area, so it's easy to get me talking about it :)
Wow, I have nothing more to add;) ....except that, sadly, I won't be here the last week of July! I am taking a road trip to Victoria. If you could only get here a bit earlier or later! I am pretty sure that if Carbons are around, they would be amazing tour guides!
(and yes, I do remember you! :)
Wow, amazing advice - thanks! I need to sit down with a map and look at it more carefully, but that's exactly the kind of suggestions I'm looking for. I was around Cranbrook 6 years ago but haven't been much farther north - I love mountains and lakes, so I'm looking forward to it! I'll be driving up to Hinton on Friday 7/22 (looks like on the Icefields Parkway route) so I'll get a preview but won't have any time to stop then since I'll be coming from Spokane WA. Then things are completely flexible Mon afternoon through Friday, other than wanting to get to Canmore before too late so I can check in to the campsite. I will actually also be free Sat and Sun (mid-to-late) afternoon and evening (7/30 and 7/31) after the Canmore races. The Nordic Center is completely embargoed from July 1 until after the sprint on 8/1, so can't go there at all. (Presumably picking up a bike is OK.) The High Rockies Trail looks like a nice option - I enjoy not too technical off road, especially if there's scenery. :) (My MTB skills are perhaps approaching intermediate - I ride our local singletrack fairly often, have now embraced the world of clipless, and can handle some rocks and roots but am not a fan of uphill logs, narrow bridges, pointy wet rock gardens, slippery roots, or steep corners.)
Sorry to miss you, Myka - sadly, no flexibility in the timing. :(
You wouldn't see any of the course at the Nordic Centre by visiting the shop to pick up a bike.
High Rockies Trail has nice views of mountains and lake and isn't technical, it sounds like you already ride stuff that is harder. It has many short climbs that will keep the lungs, heart and legs working. Park at a trailhead parking lot called "Driftwood" (there is a sign along the road) and the trail begins from the other side of the highway. From there, ride as far as you like (the trail currently goes to Buller Pass trailhead, I believe; they are still building the rest of what will be a 70-km trail). I think this will give you about 20km one way, so you could have as much as 40 km return of biking or trail running if you wish.
Peyto Lake is another pretty stop with a viewpoint of the lake, along the Icefileds Parkway. That's fantastic that you get to drive it twice (it is worth it) and will get to see the scenery in both directions.
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