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.
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.
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.
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.
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..