Mount Yamnuska, which is more formally known as Mount John Laurie, was an amazing experience and is arguably one of the most interesting hikes in Alberta (at least that I have done!). Though many hiking books and websites classify this hike as “easy,” I would most definitely classify this hike as moderate-difficult. I’m sure that hiking with a newly trained mountaineerer who basically ran up all 7349 feet of the mountain made this hike more of a challenge than it actually was, but the fast-paced adventure was certainly worth the trip.
(Photo taken from the top of Door Jamb (Yamnuska’s neighbour))
The hike begins right at the parking lot, and once you start heading up, you better get used to the incline as there are few points on the mountain that allow you to rest! This being said, the relatively flat areas to stop offer beautiful lookouts and words truly cannot describe how it feels to be at the top of a mountain like this. Wow, do we Albertans ever take this for granted.
It took us ~2.5 hours to reach the top of Yamnuska with a few short snack/water breaks but we managed to make it down the mountain in closer to 1.5h. Why the difference in time? Well, there is basically no way to hike down the mountain unless you slide down the scree. Scree you ask? Yes–Basically, scree is an accumulation of broken rock fragments. That being said, if you don’t run down the mountain, you tumble down the mountain. After nearly crying before having to run down the what seemed to be slope of certain death, I managed to make it down with lots of encouragement and had an absolute blast gliding down the mountain. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Perhaps Rhonda Scheurer can describe the “scree indulgence” better than I can:
“To run scree, you point yourself downward, and begin “running”, leaning back slightly, digging in your heels, and letting your weight and the rocks under your feet work together as a team to form shelves or soft temporary stairs under you. It is a most thrilling and unusual feeling, and you can gain momentum to where you feel like you’d be completely out of control if it were not for the magical rocks of the slope cushioning and supporting each step.”
Above photo: Compliments of alexofcanada.blogspot.ca
This scree excursion was truly unlike anything I have ever done, and while the sharp drop off the side of the mountain may be intimidating, the run down the scree is incredibly fun–as long as you wear gaiters to prevent the rocks from filling your shoes!