8 August 2011
After a restful night, rather than take the train from Calgary I took the Brewster shuttle to Banff for a pre-rail excursion to the edge of the Rocky Mountains. Banff is a small but quaint town which must at least triple in size during the summer with the many visitors that come to see this village nestles at the foot of three tall mountains that flank its three sides. Apart from walking the streets that were bustling with tourists buying souvenirs dotted along the main street, I couldn’t help but resist a visit to the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel sided in beautiful sandy brown and grey slate. This old hotel is wonderfully maintained while maintaining a unique character that fits well into its surroundings. Around the hotel are a number of country walks including one to the waterfalls down the steep slope to the river below.
I chose to take a hike up to the top of Sulphur mountain. It was an easy hike for the 2.3km to the top but I was sure glad that I had brought my mosquito repellant with me. I chose to hike right from my hotel on the edge of town which ended up taking about 1 hour to the top of the mountain. From the top there were incredible panoramic views of the town of Banff and the mountains that bordered its fringes. I also had great views of the Banff Springs Hotel, the Gondola to the top of the next mountain over as well as the valley to the opposite side of the mountain with its riverside golf course. It was almost 8 pm by the time I arrived at the top of the mountain which used to house a home and fire watch tower. I have to say however that it was disappointing to overlook the tranquil setting over Banff only to hear the noise of the town below. I could hear the pounding of construction and a trumpet player practising from somewhere down in the village. It was much more peaceful so rest and look over the East side of the mountain to the river and valley below. It was far enough away from the highway in the distance that it did not penetrate the solitude of the view. I took a leisurely walk back to my hotel as I was told it would not get dark until around 10pm. Not in a rush I took more time to go back than I did to climb up.