Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sulphur Mountain Gondola, Banff

It's great to be surrounded by mountains again. I went up the Sulphur Mountain Gondola a few weeks ago and the view was absolutely spectacular. Sulphur Mtn. basically divides these two valleys so you're surrounded by snow covered peaks. The view was gorgeous, the sky was robin's egg blue and you could just see the beginnings of a storm starting to roll in over the mountains.

It takes eight minutes to ride up the gondola and there's a little restaurant at the top. Originally, before the gondola was installed, you had to hike 3 1/2 miles to the top on a switchback trail and at the top, as a reward, you were given a certificate. Also, in 1940, a tea room was set up at the top and all of the supplies had to be hauled up on horseback.

From the restaurant and gondola gift shop, you can walk up the Cosmic Ray Station and Weather Station. From the beginning Banff has been a tourist town and it was important to know what the weather was going to be like for the tourists. So, one man named Norman Bethune Samson climbed the mountain about once every two weeks from 1896 until 1945 to record weather observations. He got so used to hiking it that he could make the trek in about two hours. In his lifetime he climbed Sulphur Mt over 1000 times and on his 1000th climb the townspeople climbed up to the top with him before dawn. They watched the sun rise from the top and had breakfast up there. Man what I wouldn't give to watch the sun rise from up there. Samson was a pretty tough guy and in '45 he was still making the hike at the age of 84. Kind of nuts huh?

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