Oh, Canada: Friends in High Places

Jess overlooking Banff on the way up Mount Rundle

Facebook is a strange phenomenon, but it is useful for some things, like connecting with long lost friends in far flung places. Last week, after posting a photo from Banff, I got a message from my childhood pal Jess, who had recently moved from South Carolina to Calgary.

Jess and I met up at the Wild Flour coffee shop in Banff. I studied every brunette that walked into the place, wondering if I’d know Jess when I saw her. Of course, I did. Not only did we recognize each other, we seemed to pick up right where we’d left off 20 years ago!

Jess & Cypress above Grassi Lakes, near Canmore

The last time I saw Jess, we were just a couple of rowdy outdoor kids. Lo and behold, we’ve both grown up into rowdy outdoor adults! The fact that my tastes in friends and pastimes hasn’t changed since childhood makes me feel like I’m doing something right!

Jess had brought her dog, Cypress, a young pointer mix and mine were ready (as always) to do something fun so we headed out for a rainy hike up Tunnel Mountain. From the top of Tunnel Mountain, we had a great view of neighboring Mount Rundle, the slanted, pointy limestone massif that towers over the town of Banff. Of course, I wanted to climb it and after practically skipping up Tunnel Mountain in the rain, it was clear that Jess was game for something a little more epic.

Mount Rundle from Tunnel Mountain

So we climbed Rundle! Well, most of it. We got chased off the Dragon’s Backbone – the last knife edge ridge to the summit – by hail, but making it up 4,000 vertical feet out of 5K ain’t bad. Climbing mountains isn’t about making it to the summit. The summit is only one point of many along the way. We didn’t stand on top of Rundle, but we spent an hour lying in the sun on the Dragon’s Back, reminiscing about the forts, lemonade stands and adventures of our childhood. Ah, the Glory Days!

Dio emerging from tree line on Mount Rundle

Getting steep!

Jess & Dio negotiating the Dragon’s Backbone, a narrow ridge with big drops on both sides.

Jess chillaxing on the Dragon’s Backbone, summit in the background. Bright blue skies overhead, but within half an hour it started hailing. Ah, mountain weather.

Me & Jess enjoying the sun on the Dragon’s Backbone

Mount Rundle D.O.G.

Mount Rundle Self Portrait, looking down towards the town of Banff

Jess surveying our route up Rundle, clouds looking iffy to the west. I made the call to turn back. I don’t mess with mountain weather!

Descending Rundle, incoming hail storm. Hail in August?! Yep.

Jess crossing the gully that borders the Dragon’s Backbone. Blue skies overhead, again. If you don’t like the weather in the mountains, descend and wait a few minutes!

After spending a month of summer in Canada, I want to come back to experience winter. I’m sure it’s a totally different place! Now that I have a friend in Calgary, I might have to hop on a plane sometime this winter! Here’s to having old friends in high places!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently traveling the backroads from New Mexico to Alaska, writing and living out of a tiny Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
This entry was posted in Beyond the USA, Bowie & D.O.G., Hiking!, Photography, Road tripping!, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Oh, Canada: Friends in High Places

  1. JB says:

    Sweet! Say hi to the “Motherland” for me. Beautiful country up by Banff! Waterton National Park (http://www.watertonpark.com/) has some great hiking too. It’s the north (Canadian side of the border) end of Glacier National Park.

  2. Gunta says:

    Friendships that go back to our youthful days AND can pick up where they left off are the best! Nothing quite like them.

  3. Tiffani Baum says:

    When I was a young teenager , I was lucky enough to visit a great aunt who has a horse farm in Priddis, Alberta not far from Calgary. She took us to all around Banff Park. I remembered being amazed at the beautiful color of the water in the streams and Lake Louise among other things. I hope to get back some day. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I just recently found your blog a few months ago, but look forward to every post and the beautiful pictures.I think I’m becoming closer to nature as I age. I actually hiked the long trail at Mammoth Cave in KY with my adult son and daughter just last month. I still can’t believe I did it. Your pics make me want to do even more. And the fact that you have dogs with you, touches my heart even more.

    • Hi Tiffani! Thanks for the note. One of my main reasons for writing this blog is to inspire more people to get out and see more of the world! I’m thrilled to hear you made it down the long trail and are ready for more! Keep hiking! This world is a beautiful place! :) M

  4. Chris Major says:

    Stunning photos, thanks for sharing another cracking adventure

  5. Enjoyed the blog and the beautiful photos. I’d love to go see these places that you are exploring. I’m keeping a running list of “Places to Visit”.

  6. paul says:

    Wow! Looks like a wonderful journey. The scenery looks great from the top.

  7. Holy crap – that’s a beautiful place! BTW, I’m going to Bisti Badlands in a few weeks – saw it on your blog and just have to do it!

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