Sulphur Mountain
via Cosmic Ray Road, plus Sundance Canyon detour


Ascent Distance - 8.5km, Elevation gain - 880m
4hr ascent / 2hr, 25min descent
Sundance Canyon detour - 5.5km, 1hr, 30mins


Sadly, at the beginning of May, the mountains remained in a state of total winter. Thus, a snowy trip up Sulphur Mountain to prevent leg-atrophy.
We took Cosmic Ray Road, just for a change from last year's hike up the gondola trail.
(note the significantly less snow in March 2008.)

We started out from the Cave and Basin parking lot, and saw (and smelled) the runoff from the warmsprings at the beginning.
The first part of the trail (once we rejoined it, after an early forest traipse), is actually a paved wheelchair-accessible stroll along the river.

Trail sign!

Warm water keeps this vegetation green despite the snow.

Meanders of the Bow River.

Looking upstream towards Bourgeau.

Shortly after a sign pointing you towards Sundance Canyon, the old road rises to the left, and the ascent begins.
The first tiny switchback was largely dry, and then we started off on the 5km SE-bound straight ascent for the top, meeting snow quickly.

Axle and Aleks start up the trail.

Last bit of dry trail and different view angle.

We start into the searing snow.

Rachel trudges after Aleks.

This trail was brutally boring. We endlessly continued in the same direction along the same slope, around the side of the same mountain.
Very near the top, there are two switchbacks, which we watched for carefully, but were fooled a few times by minor turns.
The only more boring trip I've done was the Barrier Lake Lookout. This time, I luckily had company to alleviate the boredom.
I'm not sure why, but the switchbacking trail under the gondola didn't actually seem near so bad.
The slushy snow we had to wade through, and the hot sun coming from above and reflecting from below probably contributed a lot to the fatigue.

Anyways, we continued on, and finally met that elusive switchback that signified the proximity of the summit.

A turn? The switchback?

Nope, still heading up in front of Mounts Cory and Edith.

At last! the switchback! and trailbreaking.

Rounding the last turn below the summit.

Axel and Aleks in front of the Massive Range.

I amuse myself by creating pinwheels with each polestrike.

Eventually, we made it up, and took a long break and casual lunch at the observatory.
The way down was no more interesting (with even slushier snow), but did go more quickly.

Lake Minnewanka, Mount Aylmer, and all are white.

Cosmic Ray station on Sanson Peak.

Aleks and Axel on the descent.

Returning to the junction, I convinced the others to take the (according to sign) 0.8km detour to Sundance Canyon on obvious rationale -
it might be worth seeing, and would it possibly be worth walking all the way along the wheelchair trail just for it's own sake? Good to just see it now.
Well, the entrance was longer than 0.8km each way, the canyon loop was 2.4km, and I got to re-hike a third of it to recover a dropped sweater...
It's a neat little canyon, (probably better with more flowing water), but definitely not worth a hike if you weren't there already.

We missed the length sign on our way in..

Different ways across an icy bridge.

Sundance Canyon.

Cascade in the canyon.

Aleks and Axel check out the icefall.

Probably cooler when flowing..

After our lenthened detour, we took the paved trail back to the parking lot, and enjoyed the view of a strikingly snowed Cascade.
I stopped to take a look through the gate at the old pool, and was informed that the police were now on their way due to my tresspass...
...they never showed up, despite my deep transgression of being near a fence.

Reflections in the river as we return.

Cascade looks striking in the evening sun.

Warning! It is illegal to look at this pool!

Photos taken by Axel and Rachel.

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