Sunshine Village, Banff, Canadian Rockies
If there’s one thing I always make sure to tell my dates and anyone that plans on hiking in Banff or anywhere else in the Canadian Rockies, it’s “Be prepared for the worst.”
Not that you should expect the worst from Banff or the Canadian Rockies or yours truly, but let’s just say the weather way up here in the mountains can be a little temperamental.
Take for instance a hike I did last summer at the Sunshine Village ski resort up the Healy Creek trail.
I was there for a one-nighter, just a quick retreat so that I could stay current on my Mountain Man credentials (in order to be certified by the Mountain Man Federation, Canada Division, you must spend a very specific amount of hours per year doing Mountain Man activities, such as camping or chopping wood).
The day could not have been more perfect when I started at the base of Sunshine Village, where the gondola usually goes up. The sky was blue, with just a few little tufts of white floating by lazily, birds were singing, the squirrels were chattering away.
I got into my Mountain Man hiking groove, and then about an hour into the hike it suddenly gotten dark. My first thought, as a Mountain Man, was that I had forgotten to set my clock for a couple years, and it was nighttime already. But then I heard a loud thunderclap, and the rain burst out of the sky with hurricane force.
Luckily I was prepared. The clothes I had on were made of synthetic fibers that dry quickly, so I wasn’t too concerned about the enormous rain drops hitting me as I took off my pack and dug out my rain gear.
Within a few minutes I was geared up and back on the trail. Knowing weather here like I do, I kept hiking toward my destination, a little campground a ways up past Sunshine Meadow, despite the driving rain.
When I finally got there, I noticed a few people poking their head out of their tents and looking at me like I was crazy, setting my tent up in the middle of a storm.
But a minute later I was inside, cooking up some pork n’ beans on my camp stove under the tent’s rain fly. I ate, took a little nap, and when I woke up, the storm had passed, and the birds were singing. I took a nice little stroll out to a nearby meadow, and watched the tail end of the storm as it soaked some poor saps a few valleys away.
The moral of this story, if it isn’t already obvious, is that, come prepared to the Banff and the Canadian Rockies, and you can take a lot of days that would have been throwaways and still have a wonderful time in the wild.