Friday, October 5, 2007

Tunnel Mountain - Banff - September 9, 2007

The weather around here has taken a turn for the winter. It's not snowing in the city yet, but all my weather reports have been talking about 35 cm of snow for the Kananaskis/Canmore areas. I think my next hike will likely include packing my Yak-Traks in case we run into snow (I'm aiming for a hike up Sulphur Mountain sometime this weekend, but Stoney Squaw or the Cascade Amphitheatre work for me too, if we're feeling adventurous. I just like Sulphur because it finishes near the Hot Springs and that gives me a chance to try to talk D into going again -- hint hint).

The cooler weather isn't surprising considering the time of year, and we've had signs the fall weather is coming for about a month now, especially during the second Tunnel Mountain hike.

I'd raved about it so much to N, we wound up heading out one September morning. This might have been the morning of some of the most unusual weather I've ever seen. The drive from Calgary to Cochrane was normal. I could see pockets of clouds in the valley, but I figured they'd burn off as the sun got stronger.

As we hit the edge of the mountain by the turn off to Hwy 40, the clouds took on a whole new look. They were hanging low to the ground, but there was only a thin layer. Above the clouds there was still clear blue sky:

Even this wasn't terribly weird, but as we entered the rockies and passed the first corner, the most bizarre sight greeted us. The clouds were falling over the edge of the peak like a waterfall. It's the only possible description -- the clouds were moving like water spilling over the peak of the mountain down to the base:

After the highway wound around the other side of this mountain visibility dropped to zero. Nevermind the blue sky, we couldn't even tell we were driving through mountains.

When we arrived at the trailhead, there wasn't much to see, but we figured we'd hike it anyway. It didn't take long before we were lost in the mist:

I felt bad for N since she missed out on the amazing views from Tunnel Mountain, but like our hike to Grassi Lakes , the weather made this hike as memorable as any view could. Despite the fact we saw some ice at the top, we didn't even get cold. Another great day.