We’re pretty lucky here in Calgary to live so close to the mountains. I definitely don’t take enough advantage of our proximity to the gorgeous Rockies, so when Julia asked me to join her for a little hike up Baldy Pass I was game. We were lucky to have a gorgeous blue sky day and relatively warm temperatures as we set out on the 45 minute drive to Kananaskis. I couldn’t believe that we’d be able to climb to the top of a mountain without snowshoes in February, but that’s what a warm winter and relative lack of snow will do!
The first part of the hike was a pretty straightforward climb through the trees, up a dirt pathway that wound progressively higher in the forest. Because of the damage caused by the floods in 2013 we lost the trail after a little while, but we picked through the trees and found traces of what we thought were a trail as we went up. The slope started to turn into steep scree, so we figured we’d stop for a bite to eat and find the trail after we’d replenished our energy reserves.
We never did find the trail again on the way up, though, and things got a lot more difficult as we got closer to the top. The scree got steeper, and at certain points I felt more like I was rock climbing without any equipment rather than going on the leisurely stroll I had bargained for. There were moments of despair when I thought we might never reach the top, and even more dramatic moments when I thought I might never see Zevi again. I may possibly have overreacted just a little bit, but I’m no pro rock climber, and some of what we were doing felt a bit riskier than I would have liked. We had no choice but to continue, though, because going down would be even more terrifying than pressing on. Luckily I had Julia to lead me to the top and reassure me that I (probably) wasn’t going to die on this mountain.
Once we made to the top it was pretty easy to forget how traumatic the way up had been. It doesn’t get much better than that view! It’s amazing how being on top of a mountain can make you feel so insignificant but so powerful all at once. It’s one of my favourite feelings, standing on top of a peak I just worked hard to climb up and looking down at the beautiful part of the world we’re so lucky to live in. If it happens to be with one of my favourite people, even better.
The way down was significantly easier than the way up, and sliding our way down snowy hillsides and gravely slopes felt like a breeze compared to what we’d gone through on the way there. A couple of weeks later, the feelings of terror that were so acute as we struggled our way up the mountain are all but forgotten, and now all I have left are memories of the amazing views from the top. Usually when you push yourself to keep going when all you want to do is stop, you end up stronger for it. And sometimes, you end up with some pretty gorgeous photos ;).