Ha Ling Peak
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 8 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 737 m
How to Get There: From Canmore, follow the signs to the Nordic Centre on Spray Lakes Road, go past the Nordic Centre and into Kananaskis Country for 5 km. Park at the Goat Creek Day Use Area. Cross the road, and walk up the gravel road, and cross a bridge over a channel. The trailhead is marked by a large rock with a plaque at the tree line.
I started 2016 with a great hike! Ha Ling Peak was the first hike of the year and wow was it ever a tough one. In order to get to the top of Ha Ling Peak, there is a lot of elevation gain in a short amount of time. I did this hike with my boyfriend, Matt. We decided to do this hike on the way home from Radium (we were celebrating our 4th anniversary). We were lucky enough that the cloudy skies parted way to the sun just as we were parking at the trailhead. The temperature was even in the plus degrees which is saying something for winter time in Canada. The trailhead itself is across the road from the Goat Creek trail parking lot. You have to go up a hill and then across a bridge before starting at the trail which quickly enters the trees.
Once we had our gear and microspikes on, we set off. Right away, the trail begins to go upwards at a quick pace. It meanders up through the pine trees until it finally curves off to the left into a couple of very steep and long switchbacks. About halfway through, the trees begin to thin out a bit and the snow started to get a bit deeper. I was loving every moment of it! We were surrounded by blue sky and fresh snow. I couldn't believe the amount of people that tried going on the trail without microspikes or even proper gear! Needless to say, not many of them made it very far. One guy even almost ended up sliding right into me as he stumbled halfway up a switchback.
The end of the last switchback spit us out above the tree line. It was so awesome to be able to see our destination from that point. Of course, just as I told Matt the wind wasn't that bad it picked up (which he blamed me for).
The rest of the hike was an uphill scramble to the top of the peak. We took off our microspikes after a bit to make sure they didn't get damaged on the rocks. There was another couple up on the peak by the time we reached it and we were able to take pictures for one another. I absolutely loved the view! You could see for miles up there and it was really neat to actually be on top of a more pointed rocky mountain.
Matt was cold and hungry so he began descending before I did. I would have stayed up longer but I didn't want to get separated from him. I eventually caught up to him at the bottom of the scree where we both put on our microspikes again, he had a cliff bar and then we continued on. We only lost the trail once but all we had to do was cross through a bit of snow to get back on track. I snapped a few more pictures on the way down and enjoyed the tranquility of being on the mountain. My legs were definitely shaking by the end of it though! All in all, it was a wonderful and grueling hike but definitely a great one for the off-season. Ha Ling Peak trail faces the west so it gets more exposure to the sun.
I would definitely do this hike again!