Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gondola & a bit of snow on the G8

Last Saturday was locals' day at the gondola on Sulphur Mountain in Banff.  As I apparently qualify as a local now - at least my Alberta Driver's Licence says so - I thought I would go & check it out as the passes were complimentary ("yeah, they were for free").  We'd had a little snow on Friday morning in the Bow Valley (quite a bit more out at work at Exshaw), but as the rest of Friday was pretty clear there wasn't a whole heap left on the surrounding peaks.  I joined the line & then played guess the accent as I shared a gondola car with some tourists.  I find I'm not so good at picking Canadian accents - as Megan said last week while we were watching The Trotsky, "this must be a Canadian film - they don't sound unusual" (or words to that effect) - but other accents are a bit easier.

I was a little under-dressed with only three layers on & it was chilly so early in the morning at the top.  There was a lot more up there than I expected - I think I thought there would be a food outlet of some description & not a lot else.  There was a bit of a paved trail to the summit, that took about ten or fifteen minutes & heaps of boards pointing out various peaks, flora, fauna & some history of the summit. 
There's Banff in the bottom left.  That small lump near the centre is Tunnel Mountain (the trail I rode the previous week, Star Warz, is on the back of that hill).  In the distance in the centre Lake Minnewanka - it's been a few months since Alex & I rode there a bit.   Cascade is the mountain on the left & you can see the Bow River running past Tunnel Mountain & off down to Canmore & then Calgary.

The light's not great, but that is Mt Rundle running from left to centre - Canmore is behind the far end of that.

Amusing Asian tourists obliged with this photo - up the Bow Valley on the left, the summit over my left shoulder.

After only getting a pair of cheap skates at the local ski swap, we mooched around town a bit on Saturday afternoon & I finally relented & bought Settlers.  So of course Saturday night was spent teaching Alex & Megan how to play, getting beaten a couple of times before I finally got on the board in resounding fashion.  It's nice having Settlers again - reminds me of many good friends in Pukekohe, Warkworth, Kenya, & London.  I wonder how long it will before Knights & Cities becomes necessary.

Returning home after a car maintenance & shopping trip to Calgary on Sunday, I finally remembered to pack my camera for a gentle loop of the G8.  This is easily the trail around here that I have ridden the most (up to eleven times now) - that's probably because it's usually the driest (gets more sun & is more open than the others) & it's the easiest to complete if you don't have a lot of time.  The first part of the 8 still had a fair few patches of snow lying around, but the far section of the 8 was really dry.  We had a cruisy loop (it's been a while since I've done just over an hour door to door on this trail) & it was very enjoyable stopping to take photos & appreciate the views.
 Alex riding off down the valley.

The other side of Mt Rundle - & me, of course.

Probably the jump I've hit the most in the Bow Valley (not that you can really see it) - just beside the path on the side of Benchlands Trail.

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