23 June 2009
Mount Sulphur rises 7,500 feet above sea level. It's peak is above the tree line, one mile above the streets in downtown Banff. The hike to the top takes nearly five hours. The trail winds and turns, runs over tree roots and rock outcroppings. It is a donkey path without the donkeys. We arrived at the summit exhausted, panting and sweating, worn out by the effort.
Thank goodness we rode the gondola to the top. That was bad enough!
The views were amazing. It was cold and windy at the peak, and the thin air had us breathing hard after climbing the stairs to the observation deck. We took photos, asked strangers to photograph us, then did the same thing for them. We rode the gondola back down after lunch and hiked throughout Banff Town.
Everything is expensive in Banff, and not just the tourist-y stuff. The local Safway grocery store charges $2.69 for a small bottle of Aquafina water ($1.09 at home) and eight bucks for a jar of mayo. No wonder the people here are thin.
Speaking of the people here, we spent part of the day looking for places where the local people live; the bartenders, waitresses, cooks, etc. who make the place work. We found a few neighborhoods of old houses and apartment buildings, all showing age and neglect. Also found a copy of the local free newspaper with ads for service worker parties, free bands at run-down bars a few miles out of town, stories about naked hiking parties, and so on. There's an invisible underbelly here, a culture kept private from the tourists.
Posted by Michael Haz at 4:53 PM