Hiking to Mt. Vimy Peak & Biking in a Hailstorm

I was so happy when my cousin Adam emailed me about hiking to the peak of Mt.Vimy on his most recent visit to Alberta. The first time I hiked this peak was in 2011 with Adam and his brother Quinton and I was carrying almost 25 extra pounds of bodyweight and was in terrible shape back then. I was super excited to do it this time around because I’m in way better shape. Newsflash- it was still super exhausting and difficult! Not as bad, but just as hard.

Biking In with Blue Skies

 13510755_10157064468300484_8704827176971819627_n
13521853_10157064468565484_694935668641957743_n
I always suggest biking to the base of Mt. Vimy on Wishbone because it’s a fairly flat ride for about 3 or 4 miles through the meadows of the Maskinoge. It’s a beautiful spot and there is rarely anyone else on the trail and it’s nice to zip to the base when you have a steady climb ahead of you. I had to beg friends for bikes for the three of us (Ryan broke my bike last year and still hasn’t fixed it) and then it took me 45 minutes of playing bike tetris to get them to fit into my Jeep Patriot.
I met Adam and his wife Amanda at the trailhead and we were enthusiastic to get going with a gorgeous sunny day and blue skies. On our last trip up we ran out of water so this time around we packed. I had two litres and then the three of us split up a twelve back of .5 litre water bottles amongst ourselves.
This bike trail is hard if:
a. the gears on your bike don’t work so you’re stuck in a single gear the whole time and
b. if you aren’t super confident on a bike.
A lot of times this trail is so arrow and deep that your pedals will hit the side of the trail and threaten to knock you over. It’s also a small but steady incline up as you approach the base. We were huffing and puffing and took a lot of breaks.
13532894_10157064470450484_3008260347136940209_n
Halfway through we came to the creek and Adam is so cute, he walked his bike through, then Amanda’s, then he came back and piggy backed her across so she didn’t have to get her feet wet. Is that too cute or what? I made sure to tell Ryan how impressed I was by Adam’s chivalry and he said “You’re an independent girl you don’t need me to that stuff for you.” Ha ha ha!

 13524292_10157064470265484_3610049203516039219_n

13606734_10157064469085484_2118856602009318844_n

Testing the Distance to go Up Vimy’s Peak

We finally came to the base and there was that sign that said it was a mere 4.8km to Vimy Peak. This time we were prepared and had Amanda set her fitbit so we could get to the bottom of this debate over whether the hike was only 5k or if it was double as I suspected the last time we went.
13599859_10157064467515484_2202551377341718305_n
And so we headed up, up, up. Adam loves how the ecosystem changes on this hike. You start off biking through birches, then you go up amongst a more humid environment with tons of vegetation covering the trail, then you come into alpine evergreens, then into the sparse hardy bushed before hitting open rock.
13592843_10157064467805484_8725233979599855841_n
I was super excited because the beargrass was out everywhere! Beargrass is a tough one to see because it doesn’t last very long but it was scattered all around the trail head.
 13524307_10157064467005484_7671138990258005857_n
Adam and Amanda were having a hard time with the elevation change because they are both from Kansas. e stopped often for 30 second to 1 minute breather breaks and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t ask to stop just as much as those two did. It is a long steady incline and I was sweating buckets!
We stopped for lunch while still in the alpine evergreens and I realized I was an idiot and put my sandwich on the bottom of the bag. Have you ever eaten a squished gluten free sandwich? I think there was more bread on the trail than in my stomach when I was done.
13567387_10157064466380484_8440121687967567609_n
We finally came up to the where the trail turns off to go to the point on Vimy’s peak. A look at Amanda’s fitbit told us we had gone almost 4km up so THAT is what the sign considers to be Vimy’s Peak! NOT the actual top of the mountain. Mystery solved everybody! So if you read that it’s 4.8km to Vimy’s Peak from the base, that is to Vimy’s pimple not the actual peak. Ha ha. Vimy’s pimple. I’m going to call it that from now on.
This is where I thought a self timer hiking shot would be great. But Adam and I are not very good at pretending to be hiking. LOL!
Bad self timer pic!!

Bad self timer pic!!

 

I felt like we would never reach the waterfall which is kind of like the halfway point of the climb. We finally did and sat down and took a long snack break and enjoyed the gorgeousness of the spring water cascading down the mountain.
13511968_10157064465675484_3138449137787206125_n
One of the prettiest sections of the trail

One of the prettiest sections of the trail

Just a little ways up from the waterfall we encountered our first patch of alpine snow.
First patch of snow but not the last!

First patch of snow but not the last!

I even got to recreate a photo from the last hike.
B89C5A34-86E4-4138-940B-0E900B4C48A0
This part of the hike is nice because you’re high enough that the air is cooler and the wind coming of the snowpack is nice and cold.
We finally came within sight of the peak and to the open rock and loose terrain. We opted to climb straight up instead of taking the winding path thinking that it would be faster- it wasn’t. Take my advice, the paths are there to make your climb easier go ahead and take them.
Approaching the peak

Approaching the peak

We went straight up! I even found a little tree I photographed last time to show how steep the incline was at this part.
C63270FE-15FA-43C5-ADE6-4BC92C415548
20160629_164144
Loo ma! I'm using my hands!

Loo ma! I’m using my hands!

Zombie Walk

This is where Adam and Amanda changed my life by introducing me to the ‘Zombie Walk.’ Basically, when you’re hiking steep terrain your instinct is to take large wide steps to get you up as fast as possible. This gets your heart rate going like mad and it’s exhausting. the zombie walk is when you shuffle up like a zombie. You take small steps as you go up and it’s not as difficult as the large steps and you take less breaks. Blew my mind away!
We were nearly to the top when we stopped for a snack and a chipmunk came to say hello. I know the Bears Hump chipmunks are used to people but I was surprised to see one so used to people on a more seldom hiked trail. And I KNOW you’re not supposed to feed the animals but I couldn’t help giving him a couple unsalted sunflower seeds to munch on.
13592378_10157064458210484_8789284181217738221_n
As I was feeding him a crash of thunder started in the distance. Adam managed to capture my face when I heard it.
You can see the concern in my face!

You can see the concern in my face!

 

The storm seemed quite aways away but I knew the last place I wanted to be was the top of a mountain in a storm so we booked it up the last little bit to the peak.
And the view was worth every step, every drop of sweat, every loss of breath. It was stunning.
13532817_10157064454705484_4218462904817257440_n
20160629_173004
13516680_10157064456785484_6667567051141717916_n13532938_10157064454985484_1928249246480855490_n
We signed the registry where I blatantly promoted the blogs URL, ha ha ha! And we stopped to take pics all around us.
13516623_10157064456845484_528332583634658199_n
This is where Adam proposed to Amanda two years ago so I snapped a few photos for them. But alas, the thunder was still rolling in the distance so we had to book it down. I wouldn’t feel safe until we were in the treeline.
The way down on scree is a lot of fun and we kind of surfed down the loose rock until we found the solid trail again.
13567369_10157064453425484_3648861773105711489_n
On the way down the snowpack I decided to try my hand at skiing and have this hilarious video to show for it. I crack myself up with my complete dorkiness!

But my balance wasn’t always good. I did slip and fall and slide down the snowpack- twice! Ha ha ha!
13566928_10157064450470484_9203767655636406774_n
As we came down I eyeballed the storm that seemed to be staying on the other side of the lake from us. We did watch a crazy crash of lightning hit the side of the mountain opposite us and I was very happy to get to the base.
Storm off in the horizon

Storm off in the horizon

Biking in the Hail

I think I cursed us when we got to our bikes and I said “I think we might just beat this storm.”

The mountain on the other side of the lake from us

The mountain on the other side of the lake from us

That tempted fate because as soon as we pulled up to the stream it started to rain. No big deal we popped on our coats, put the cell phones in my waterproof Mountain Hardwear bag and continued on.

13567252_10157064449170484_7255798861596287312_n

We had just gotten on our bikes after the stream when we rode right into the storm and began to be pelted with hail! It stung as it hit me in the face and legs and to make matters worse I was on a bike stuck in one gear and exhausted from a difficult climb. It was nice that we were going at a slight decline but soon we had to start walking our bikes big time because the hail gathered in the bike trails ankle deep and I found my bike coming to an abrupt stop because it couldn’t make it through the thick hail.

Hail on the trail

Hail on the trail

As we sloshed through freezing water and pushed our bikes through trails filled with hail all we could do was laugh! I laughed and laughed and actually enjoyed my time thoroughly. While the thunder was loud we didn’t see any lightning so I didn’t have to worry about a lightning strike. It felt so real to be IN the storm. Normally we watch storms from the safety and comfort of our homes or vehicles so to be IN it with the hail pelting my face and the thunder crashing around me was incredible, almost spiritual.

13592378_10157064446650484_3856927012125681527_n

13524297_10157064445005484_3937744129272425590_nWe walked our bikes more than we rode them because of the hail filled trails and when we finally got to the car I was so relieved- my legs were done. Pleasant surprise, I had left my car window rolled all the way down and my drivers side was completely soaked. I just laughed! Thank goodness I drive a Jeep because those cars are meant to be beat up.

We capped off the perfect day with dinner at Vimy’s and the steak sandwich (minus the bread) and sweet potato fries never tasted so good!

We three had such a good time and Adam and I decided we need to get a permit and hike to the peak of Old Chief Mountain in Montana next summer when he comes up for a visit.

If you’re looking for a difficult hike that is doable and safe, Mt. Vimy is for you!

Let me hear from other Vimy conquerors! Favourite part of the hike? Least favourite?

6 Comments

  • Hilary July 7, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Wow! What a view! Looks like you had quite the adventurous day. 🙂 Keep hiking & biking up there in BC!

    Reply
    • Betty Livin July 7, 2016 at 10:06 am

      It was such a blast! I wish I could spend every day adventuring like this. I’m actually in Alberta, but this spot is just a short ways away from the BC border! 🙂

      Reply
  • Clare July 9, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Looks like you had quite an epic adventure! The scenery looks amazing!

    Reply
    • Betty Livin July 10, 2016 at 7:57 am

      It was such an adventure! I love the mountains so much, they’re a magical place!

      Reply
  • Andy July 10, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Fantastic day out and a great and funny write up 🙂

    Reply
    • Betty Livin July 11, 2016 at 7:26 am

      Thanks! I love misadventures they make for lifelong memories!

      Reply

Leave a Comment