The Incredible Mist Mountain Hike and Conquering Doubt
One year into staying at home has given me the opportunity to explore Rocky Mountain hiking trails throughout all of the seasons. It has been a great opportunity to grow by trying things that I never saw myself doing.
Every time I am surrounded by the Rockies, I have to pinch myself to make sure that it's not all just a dream. I love the gorgeous jagged mountain layers capped with snow, the exhilaratingly cold lakes that wakes every cell in my body when submerged. I also love the hikes. A chance to get away and surround yourself with trees, paths, animals and sounds of nature - from leisurely walks along paths carpeted with evergreen tree needles to more challenging hikes along terrain that tests my mettle and reminds me just how far removed from the city I am.
The latter is how I would describe the Mist mountain hike.
Tamsyn and I started just after 7am. The morning was cool and clear, which I like when hiking. I had read the reviews about this hike and had spent time learning more about this place in an effort to prepare myself. I was excited and psyched out all at the same time. I've done a number of hikes, but nothing quite like this. Armed with hiking poles, water, snacks we were finally at the trail head and ready to live and experience this place.
We had heard that the trailhead wasn't easy to find but luckily, we saw cars pulled to the side of the road and a white road marker with the words Mist Mountain crudely scrawled on it in black marker. We had arrived!
The plan was to get to the hot springs tucked into the side of the mountain. Getting to the summit would have been a bigger challenge due to all of the scree and false summits - aptly named because you think that you've reached the summit but SURPRISE! you actually haven't. False summit, so we decided not today! Getting to the springs was going to be our goal.
The hike started off hot from the start with a steady incline. We walked through a canopy of trees on that initial steep incline with only the cadence of our hiking boots, the sound of little woodland animals and our own breathing. We stopped to enjoy the sight of the sun peeking through the thick brush of trees, to catch our breath and to slam back huge gulps of water.
After we made our way through the forested area, we came to an open clearing that looked like a meadow surrounded by mountains. We could see the first part of the hike behind us and what lay ahead. Sprits were high as reached the first peak and then lost our bearings and path. We were lost. Ugh. Thankfully not for long. After that short 'detour', we found our way back to the path. From the distance, we could see our goal; the hot pools nestled into the side of the mountain. It was like a desert oasis and we kept going.
Next up was scree. Before that day, I actually didn't know what scree was, but I quickly found out. Loose, slippery rock that caused me to fall three times, bruising only my ego and my lungs from laughing so hard. My lesson: tread slowly because once you've fallen, the loose rock makes it hard to stand again. Even with hiking poles. After the scree and before the hot springs we found ourselves at a water fall. A small trickling waterfall, but a waterfall nonetheless! We climbed down to sit by the water for a bit, dipping our hands in the cold, cold stream. After hanging out there for 30 minutes or so, we climbed back out and like a beacon, we moved towards our hot spring goal. We went through another treed area, following the trail lined with knotty roots, across more scree and we were there. Totally no big deal at all (haha).
The hot springs weren't busy with just a few other people around enjoying the place, sitting on the rocks soaking in the sunshine and enjoying the water (2021 note: The Mist Mountain hike is trending this year and I suspect that there will be a lot more visitors than last year, so go early!) The moment I had been waiting for; the first step into the springs was beautiful. It felt like such an accomplishment to get there and for me. There were squeals of happiness, hugs, and we finally sat back to savour the sweet taste of the moment. And then we took a shit ton of pictures.
the view from the hot pools was gorgeous. The mountain ranges, and seeing how far we had come was incredible, it was also sobering for me when I started thinking about the journey back. Down is easier than up and we dried off, put our hiking clothes back over our wet swimsuits and began to head back in the direction that we had come. (2021 tip: Bring a large towel or something to hide your modesty when changing if you plan on not wearing your swimsuit before or after your dip as there are no suitable change areas).
Been there, done that - the trek down was a lot easier and my hiking poles certainly helped my knees as we scrambled around and in some spots - ran down hill. When we passed the scree, we stopped to enjoy a cold and delicious alcohol free beer as we sat on the grass and checked out how far we had come from the hot pools.
When we got back to the trail head where we had begun, just over 5 hours later, I think - no I know I screamed with relief. It was a great feeling to get my hiking boots off and slip into my little pineapple flip flops before the drive home.
This was absolutely the most incredible hike I have done so far and I felt triumphant upon completing it, even though my legs would be rendered nearly useless for the next day or so afterwards.
(2021 tip: I was a complete hiking novice when I first did this hike, so even though it is rated as a hard hike, it's not impossible for newbies to take on. I am really looking forward to seeing how it feels this year!)
I was nervous about this experience but was able to step into and go through the fear that I felt. Completing this hike was like a metaphor for conquering self-limiting feelings that I get when I let my mind get lazy. Despite any reservations, walking thorough fear and doubt gives me the opportunity come out on the other side knowing that I am a stronger person because of it and gives me the momentum to apply that principle to other areas in my life.
Pro Tip: Let's talk about hiking poles for a second - I never thought I wanted or needed them. I wholeheartedly admit that I was wrong. They are a lifesaver and I love them. They made my hike so much easier, helping me get up the mountain and saving my knees on the way down. I will never hike again without them. These Eddie Bauer ones are the ones I bought. Regular price CAD $60. Get them. Seriously.
Feeling inspired? Here are some more spots to enjoy in and near Calgary before winter comes!
Elbow Falls and Beaver Lodge walking trail
St. Patrick's Island located in Calgary's East Village
Bottling spring water in Canmore
My name is Nicole and I am a Calgary based lifestyle and travel blogger with a focus on alcohol free living. During this period of self-isolation and physical distancing, like many others, I've been more focused on lifestyle than travel. This time has given me the opportunity to slow down and find ways to stay inspired, have fun, stay fit and eat well without travelling too far from home.
While I am inspired by beautiful Instagram pages and blogs that feature nomad travellers living and working from beaches in enviable locales – but that’s not my reality. Even though I don’t normally travel for extended periods of time, I have always had great times and made amazing memories on my getaways.
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