Elev.” Is a four letter word.

So is “hike” for that matter. So why do we go up?

We like the feel of the leg muscles working, the heart pounding, the lungs working to their maximum, and the fresh mountain air. Yeah, that was ten years ago.  Now, an escalator would be appreciated. Our real goal is to reach the top so we can see spectacular views (we have come to expect this).  Most hikes in the Rockies do not disappoint. Every once in a while, it is more work than its worth.

Our last hike of our vacation was the C-Level Cirque near Lake Minnewanka in the southern part of Banff National Park. It is roughly 2.5 miles of steep trail through lodge-pole pine and spruce up over 1500 feet of elevation (here’s that word again). After much shortage of breath and many heart-pounding steps, we were rewarded with a brief view about a third of the way. With this interim view (see below), we presumed the top would be marvelous.

Overlook, a third of the way up the trail.

Overlook, a third of the way up the trail.

Except for the occasional scent of fur and pine, the rest of the trail was just like the first third – an unremarkable trudge. Half-way up we came across a couple descending who assured us the hike was worth the effort.

We finally made it to the top where we had to change our sweat-drenched shirts. We looked around for our marvelous views and found this.

C-Level Cirque view

C-Level Cirque view

Not marvelous. Not exceptional. Just a big rock and a cloud.

For those of you not familiar with the term “cirque”, Cirque is a French word you will not likely find in your English dictionary—a term used by geologists to describe a semicircular, bowl-shaped depression created by an alpine glacier. C Level Cirque is a miniature example of the phenomenon. Though the glacier that produced the basin has long since disappeared, snow often lingers in the basin. (…from the official Banff website: http://banff.ca/?nid=639).

Note, when we indicate “trail end” this is usually where we stop. That is because on almost every hike there there appears to be a scraggly trail that continues upward for those needing more “Elev”.  An example is visible on the right side of the C-Level Cirque View photo. Note, Jeff and I no longer require extra elevation to feel that sense of accomplishment at trail end.

When we returned to the bottom, we were rewarded with a nice view of a sunlit field and mountains.  In our opinion, this was much better than what we experienced 1500 feet higher.

View from the carpark.

View from the car-park.

So do you think the hike was worth it, or should we have just stayed in the parking lot?