Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deb vs Yamnuska

This one isn't my picture, as I forgot to take one before or after the hike.

This past weekend, my husband and I got to do something that we haven't done in years: go on a child free hike. My husband's parents are visiting and both kids are now old enough to be left for an extended time period, so we took a day to ourselves.

We decided to hike Yamnuska. Chosen partly for it's proximity to our house, Yamnuska is a famous mountain. It's been featured in films such as Legends of the Fall, Open Range, and Brokeback Mountain. A true test of the strength of my knee, Yamnuska is a hike followed by a scramble, totaling about 900 metres elevation gain and around 10 km return distance. (The 10 km return is not an exact amount. It was tough to find an actual distance since there are multiple routes that can be taken for the scramble.)

Upon leaving the parking lot, you start off on fairly level ground then pass over what is a creek sometimes, but was dry on this trip. Then you start going up. And up. And up.

This is one of the easier sections

Some of the trails in the rockies have a mix of ups and downs, but there's very few downs on this trail. What that means is a lot of work... and spectacular views.

I had to stop to catch my breath quite a few times, but always felt like I could keep going. My knee felt normal. I was trying to really focus on it, but while there was an occasional twinge on some really big steps, there was never pain that felt like a warning of something wrong.

We did this trail last summer, while carrying both kids. That time we had to turn back before even finishing the hike portion. I just felt like I was out of energy and had nothing left. This time, we reached the point where we had turned back before and I was surprised that it came so soon. We kept going and got to the point where it turned from a hike into a scramble.

The scramble begins by climbing up through a crevice.

Then you carry on over loose scree, up over bigger rocks, using our hands as well as our legs, and going up, up, up. Even in this section, my knee didn't yell at my me. We did have to stop and put bandaids on our feet in spots where our boots had started to rub. (On a side note, always tend to your feet before you get a blister.)

We stopped numerous times to grab a drink or have a few bites of trail mix. We made it almost to the top.

I say almost because we didn't research the scramble section of this hike, since we hadn't decided to do it before hand. We got to a point where we weren't sure which way to go. I took a few steps to look around an edge and was at the edge of a cliff. My husband took a look and his fear of heights kicked in.

Turns out, if we continued, the next step was to cross along a ledge holding onto a cable.

photo source

A wee bit of a drop off here, and not for the faint of heart. We're hikers, not mountain climbers, and only occasional scramblers, so we turned back at this point.

The downhill trip was the final knee test and I must say it passed with flying colours. We weren't carrying a load (aside from fairly light day packs) on this trail, but with the extreme elevation, it was a great workout and a fabulous day.

Two days later, I'm still feeling it. This time though, my muscles are all that's sore. My knees (and other joints) are feeling fine. Muscle soreness I can handle. :)

This day was just what I needed. We're planning a backpacking trip in a month on a trail with a similar amount of elevation gain. Knowing that we can handle this now sets us up well to do our anniversary trip with the added load.


  1. So glad to hear that your knees held up and the muscle soreness is something you can handle. You must have been using muscle fibers that you didn't even know you had. What a cool way to get a great workout.

  2. Wow, you are adventurous! That is quite a hike. Very beautiful from a distance, a little rocky up close.

    You rock! Really!