Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ha Ling Peak - May 25, 2014

Conor and I hiked up to the summit of Ha Ling peak on Sunday.

Ha Ling
Conor on the Summit of HaLing peak. Rundle mountain is in the background

The weather was calling for clouds with scattered rain showers. On the drive out we passed through a couple shower pockets but overall it was dry.  Ha Ling Peak is a pretty popular hike near Canmore. The parking lot is up on top of the hill at the Goat Creek trail head. We got to the parking lot and made our way across the road to the Ha Ling trail and started up.

Ha Ling
Starting out at the parking lot.. We're all smiles as we begin our journey

As we walked into the forest I immediately loved the trail. I didn't really know what to expect about the terrain or the views so I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty it was right away. The path starts in the trees and is heavily worn with many exposed roots to navigate over. There is a bit of a gully so the trees had a nice mossy enchantment about them. We were soon hiking up switchbacks that have been well maintained to account for the heavy use that the area gets. The trail was always climbing but wasn't overly steep and there weren't too many folks to contend with. Our late start (2:15pm) and cooler weather may have saved us from the hoards.

Ha Ling
Loopy trees on the switchbacks. Nice spot for a rest.

After climbing up five switch backs in the forest we started to clear the treeline. Snow and ice on the trail appeared around the end of the fourth switchback and was gone as we reached the scree slope. Once we had the summit in view we decided to make a beeline straight up the hill rather than following the path with it's less-direct-route. It seemed to take a while to climb up the loose rock but I think part of that was because we could see our objective but couldn't judge how far away it was. For a while it didn't seem like it was getting any closer as we trudged up the slope.

Ha Ling
On the open scree slope with the wind picking up, time to put the jacket back on. 

Eventually we made it to the top. Conor had a few snacks while I tried to make some photos. The wind had picked up and it was spitting rain so we didn't stay too long as it was starting to get a bit chilly. With the dull overcast sky and low visibility I lost interest in taking photos. We left the summit and made our way over to the col between Ha Ling and Miners Peak on the main trail. We followed the path back down to the tree line while slipping and sliding on some slushy snow. Once in the trees the wind was blocked and we were soon warmed up again.

Ha Ling
Conor having a snack on the summit.

As we got to the end of the trail we came across a helicopter that had landed on the road. As we watched the helicopter lifted a SAR person up, by rope, and dropped them on the hillside where we could see someone who looked to be stranded on some steep down-sloping cliffs. It looked like the SAR person was going to rappel the stranded hiker down to the ground.  We left before the rescue completed but it serves as a reminder that being out in the mountains isn't without risk.

After a satisfying dinner at the Grizzly Paw restaurant in Canmore we drove home. According to the GPS app on my phone we hiked 6.5kms over 4 hours 10 minutes. I've read that the elevation gain of this hike is around 700m.  Any other photos from the day can be found here

NEW: A short video of our trip..

And a small map that shows the path we took. IMG_5697.PNG Thanks for looking.

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