Hiking Cory Pass Loop

I did this hike on July 23, 2016.

My favorite hike in Banff National Park was Cory Pass Loop. It had two splendid things going for it; it was challenging and a loop. I definitely like hiking loops much more than going up and down on the same trail.

I’d planned on an early start based on the information from the ranger I’d spoken to at the visit center, who recommended I account for 6-7 hours to complete this hike. To help with the early morning start, I had relocated to a different AirBnB, which afforded me a shorter drive to Banff (40 minutes instead of an hour). Unfortunately, the roommates of the owner, who was out town, decided to have a small house party my first night there, and they kept me up past midnight. I actually had to go tell them to quiet down.

This led to me falling asleep and waking-up later than planned and not as refreshed as intended but I still headed out for my hike.

The trail head for Cory Pass Loop is at the Fireside day-use area, off the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A). You take Tran Canada Hwy and go past Banff before taking a right unto 1A. Everything is well marked to find the trail head. There’s ample parking and bathroom facilities at Fireside.

After a short walk in the wooded area the trail quickly steepened and became rockier. I actually ended off trail hanging off the face of a mountain and quickly realizing there was no way this was the right way. I turned back around and found the trail.

It eventually evened back out in a semi-forested area before becoming a trail along the mountain side where the view was incredible.

Wooded area after steep climb
Wooded area after steep climb

I encountered some mountain goats where I stopped to have some lunch before making my trip back through the Gargoyle Valley.

Cory Pass trail along the mountain side
Cory Pass trail along the mountain side

Just around the bend from where I had my lunch began my descant through loose rocks and gravel. The change in landscape was drastic—very little vegetation, almost complete disappearance of the colors green and brown. The terrain was all rocks, boulders, and various shades of grey. The path eventually merged into a field of large rocks that was tricky to maneuver and absorbed the trail. Once out of the rock field, I was able to get back on the right path and the rest of the hike was in the woods.

 Cory Pass return trail

Cory Pass hiking trail

The entire hike took me a little under 5 hours.

Length: 13 km loop
Hiking time: 6 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 915 m
Trailhead: Fireside day-use area, off the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A

Pukaskwa National Park: The Beauty of Lake Superior

The drive from Sault Ste-Marie to Pukaskwa National Park was a pretty one. Most of it was riding along Lake Superior. I had no expectations of what Lake Superior had to offer. Besides knowing it was an immense lake, I knew little else about it, and had no idea I would find myself in such magical settings, once I got to Pukaskwa National Park.

As I mentioned in my other post, I Bought a Tent, this was my and Little Man’s first camping experience. We rolled up to the campsite, which overall was as I expected. I setup camp, made sure Little Man was alright and headed out to explore. Unfortunately, the hike I wanted to do (White River Suspension Bridge Trail) was too long of a hike to do in the few hours I had left of daylight, so instead, I did some of the hikes closer by.

I was blown away by the magic in the forest, everything had some sort of moss growing on it, giving the woods a look I had never seen before. Next, I was stunned by the size of the beaches and the large trees that clutter their shores. The vastness of Lake Superior, in that I couldn’t see the opposite shore, also surprised me.

Magical Forest

Shore of Lake Superior

I love finding myself somewhere that doesn’t remind me of anywhere else. That’s how I felt, as I explored the trails of Pukaskwa National Park.

Pukaskwa National Park a dawnt

After my hike I returned to the campsite to eat and waited for the sun to set so I could go watch it. It got much cooler as the sun went down, and my fire building skills left me without much of a fire. I also felt lonely…would camping leave me feeling this way? With nothing to do in the evening, in the solitude of the woods…would loneliness creep in while on this trip?

Eventually I crawled into the tent and tried to get some sleep. I didn’t sleep very well, but none the less, in the morning, I did one more short hike…regretting I wasn’t here for two nights so I could do the longer hike.

Next stop. Thunder Bay.

Road Trip: Off to Sault Ste. Marie

The drive from Ottawa to Sault Ste. Marie was excruciatingly painful. There wasn’t much to see (the picture is from the following day) and while I broke down and finally downloaded an audio book, I picked a particularly boring one. The story was in need of some serious editing—it had way too many irrelevant details and lacked actual suspense. It was supposed to be a thriller. To make matters worse, the voice of the narrator was hitting a nerve. I kept having to turn it off, as it was putting me to sleep, instead of keeping me awake.

Speaking of assistance keeping awake. What happened to all the Dunkin Donuts in Canada? They appear to all have been replaced with Tim Horton’s, which dispenses dish washing water as coffee. This added to the difficulties of this drive.

The highlight of my day was driving through the small town of Spanish, which only had a few streets, but of those streets, one was called Ann Street and the next one over, Bernard Street. Wish I’d stop for pictures.

I made it to Sault Ste. Marie around 7pm. After unloading the car and grabbing some dinner, I was ready for bed.

In the morning, I found a grocery store and picked-up all the food I needed for the day and night/morning. This was it—my first night of camping awaited me and Little Man!!

Road Trip: Quebec to Ottawa

I left my mom’s house, or I guess I should start calling it my stepdad’s house, on June 29th and headed to Stoneham, right outside of Quebec City, to spend some time with my cousin and to visit with her parents (all family on my mom’s side). I had visited with my other cousin while in St-Georges where I finally met her four children. As I looked at her children, I recalled what an awesome time we all had (my brothers and her siblings) when we were their age—and how much time had elapsed since we last spent time together.

Anyway, at this point, I had an outline of my travel plans and most of my reservations were made at the way to Calgary.  However, I still needed to purchase my tent and some other equipment. I figured I would have more store selections in Quebec City over St-Georges.

My cousin offered me to stay at her house and it turned out to be such a blessing. Growing up, we were known for looking alike, and had spent time playing together. As an adult, I saw her when she made a stop in Baltimore, while I was stationed in Virginia, many years ago. But, we hadn’t spent quality time together in way too long and I had yet to meet her daughter. Spending time with her was like being with a long lost best friend.

She took me mountain biking at Mount St. Anne, I went shopping for the camping gear I needed, I visited my aunt and uncle (and other cousin), and overall had a nice stop with family in Quebec City. However, on July 4th, it was time to hit the road to start making my way West.

View of Lac Saint Pierre

I had a 4.5 hour drive ahead of me, which I didn’t think was bad, but turned out more painful or rather boring, than I’d anticipated. I arrived in Ottawa mid-afternoon.  I checked-in to my hotel and then headed out on foot to start exploring the city.

Since being in Canada I’ve heard this saying a few times now and witnessed it to be true: “We have two seasons in Canada. Winter and construction season.”

Ottawa from Bridge

There was major construction going on in Ottawa, which took away from being able to see the city in what would be its full glory. I took the lazy tourist option and toured the city on the large red double decker hop on and off bus. I was the most impressed with the massive bicycle lanes/network. The entire city is covered by independent bike lanes. Taking a bicycle tour of the city would have been a good option, had I arrived earlier.

Ottawa Parliament

I had dinner in the Byward Market which is full of bars, restaurants, shops and a farmer’s market during the day.  I even had Tinder “date” at an Irish pub before calling it a night.

I woke in the morning, had a workout at the hotel fitness center then headed out to my next stop: Sault St. Marie.

If you plan on going to Ottawa, I would wait until at least end of summer 2017.