The line for the showers is ridiculous. I haven’t been able to shower with any kind of consistency for the entire trip and my skin is hating me for it. Between the sunscreen, bug spray, dirt, and sweat, I’m beginning to bear a terrifying resemblance to my less attractive, greasy high school portraits. My overly sensitive skin is screaming at me to take better care of it, but my impatience to get going wins out and I leave my place in line, opting instead to try to scrub my face furiously over the bathroom sink and hit the road.
We return for a third day to Sunshine Slabs to finish out the remaining routes. It feels good to have focused on one climbing area while we have been here instead of running around to a bunch of different places trying to do as much as humanly possible. Instead, we have been able to take our time, enjoy the challenge of working our way steadily around each of the walls, slowly checking off routes as we go.
West climbs strong today, pushing himself further, harder, faster than the previous trips. He finishes most of the Paddock Wall routes and finishes up the day on a gnarly 5.10a lead climb called Cadence, a face climb with a precarious overhung start that would have been nice to have had a stick clip for. The first bolt is the worst, but once he’s able to clip in, the rest of the route is super fun.
We take our time wrapping up at Sunshine as we know this is our last time here for this trip. We leave a little sad, but happy we got to spend so much time in such a beautiful spot with such gorgeous rock!
With the heat of the day fully upon us, we go hunting for a cooler activity in Canmore. Driving through downtown on our way to find parking, we see that an open air market has sprung up! We are lured in by the sweet smell of a crepe stand, the pungent scent of leather, soap, and wax goods, and the mingled sounds of people, music, and animals mixed together.
We meander our way through the throng with hungry eyes, taking in everything around us. West’s stomach growls as we pass a gourmet grilled cheese vendor. We take a hard right and in no time, our spicy Italian sausage is on the flat top, cheese oozing out the sides, a huge stone in place of a grill press holding everything together.
We sit to share the sandwich and people watch. The crowd here reminds me vaguely of a Bozeman crowd, but with more obviously out of town tourists mixed in. Bozeman still has that going for it at least. There’s enough going on there outside of tourism, that the full time locals still outnumber the visitors. Canmore seems to be much more a town driven by tourism in the Bow Valley; essentially a cheaper version of Banff. Even a large portion of the store clerks, wait staff, and other employees are clearly just seasonal staff, here to work hard and play harder.
We take one last turn about downtown, popping in for an ice cream, walking to a park and laying in the grass watching the clouds past, killing time in the best of ways. Soon enough it’s getting close to dinner time and West has his sights set on a place in Canmore called The Iron Goat. The views are supposed to be amazing as it is situated on a hillside overlooking the rest of the valley with the mountains all around.
We are immediately struck by the architecture. The mountain lodge vibe is strong with the exposed beam work and heavy iron accents giving off an air of rustic refinement. And the view is as promised. The lush valley floor rolls out below us, a sea of mountains rising up without warning, so large even from this distance that you feel as though you could reach out to touch them. Tonight they are brooding as a squal builds over the threatening a downpour.
We start out on the patio, but the wind quickly shifts and starts whipping us with icy rain and we hurt inside to finish our meal. The beer selection was fair, and the food was fair, nothing to write home about, but with such a gorgeous building, and a view to die for, I wasn’t too bitter.
Back at camp, it appears that we have gotten a good portion of the shower. It’s about ten degrees cooler and it’s only going to get colder. I get my bag liner out, my Smartwool socks on, and my Buff ready to go. It’s rough getting to sleep. The cool temps and dampness in the air creep into my bag no matter what I do. Finally I take some melatonin and that helps to me nod off and from there, I am dead to the world. Tonight I dream of cold places.
– to follow our travels each day visually, head over to @thebozemanite on Instagram