A Hike To Remember
The journey to St. Piran
A Hike To Remember
On the last Saturday in September I was fortunate enough to be included with the Worley Parsons team and had the amazing opportunity to summit Mt. St. Piran in Lake Louise. A lot of people might wonder how a paraplegic could possibly summit the top of a mountain? But that is where Rocky Mountain Adaptive comes in. Located in the heart of Canmore, AB they provided volunteers and equipment to make this day a reality. The equipment that we used was very specialized. A TrailRider is the “wheelchair” that got me up the mountain. The best way to explain a trail rider is that it is a wheelchair crossed with a dog sleigh. Its very comfortable for the rider and makes it easy for others to push up the mountain trails. Due to the difficulty of this hike there was 3 people harnessed at the front that helped pull me and someone at the back who steered and helped keep the trail rider balanced. The volunteers were made of the most amazing group of individuals from Worley Parsons. They come together every year to give someone the opportunity to do an adventure experience that might not always be possible. This year was my turn and they made it epic! They were a fun loving, good time crowd. We also had Chris Ha, the muscle man and storyteller of the group, & Jamie, Matthew, & Sarah from RMA. I was also fortunate to have my friend Lou come along and share this journey with me.
We met bright and early at the base of Lake Louise and got organized. I got in the trail rider and Jamie (Director of RMA) thought of everything and he had provided a sleeping bag to be put on the trail rider to keep me warm as the conditions at the top of the mountain were snowy , for good sleep see this . Once I was comfortable we were off to climb the mountain. Mount St. Piran has a very high elevation of 2,649m so it wasn’t very far into the hike that we were going up hills and starting to climb the mountain. We had some of the crew in front of the TrailRider with ropes pulling me up and a person at the back steering and keeping the chair balanced.
As the hike progressed the incline got steeper and steeper but we made it to our first rest point the lake in good time. After our rest stop at the lake the hike definitely got more intense. The first sign of the intensity was that boulder of rocks started to become more frequent. I am not talking about boulders that you could just wheel over these were boulders that required a few men to lift me over. I knew then that this hike was going to be epic. As we continued, the mountain trail we were following would get really narrow and there was often bushes on each side. I sometimes wondered if we would get through. But the attitude of the group was “Wherever there is a will there is a way.” I don’t think a TrailRider has ever been through such narrow gaps. The team would than just lift the TrailRider up and we would climb over the boulder, tree or whatever the obstacle might be. Nothing was stopping us. But it wasn’t just boulders that were providing difficulty we were essentially climbing a mountain so the incline and the hills and the switchbacks were also very intense.
As we were going up the snow was getting deeper and it was getting colder. The Ptarmigan birds were changing color and it was so neat to see them. After all of the hard work we made it to the saddle of St. Piran and WOW what a view. There was lots of fresh snow and we had the perfect day to get a clear view of everything that surrounded us. You could see the turquoise blue of Lake Louise, the beautiful larch tress changing to the gold color, the sky, and the combination of the snow and I don’t think words are adequate to explain how awesome the view was. It was incredible! We enjoyed our lunch and the Bernard Caliber chocolates that Matthew had so kindly packed. At the saddle it was determined that it wasn’t safe enough to summit to the very top peak, which was fine because the view from the saddle point was gorgeous! We of course got some pictures of the group at the top and we took in all scenery.
The way down the mountain was just as much of a workout as the way up was. We had to climb over the same boulders! But the fresh clean mountain air kept us all going. I would say that going down was a little more intense than going up just because we had to go down all the steep parts. But I had the best time.
It was an unforgettable day and I want to thank every one who was a part of it for making it such a great experience. I appreciate the mountains so much more because of the effort it takes so many for me to see one. Cheers to RMA and the Worley Parsons crew and everyone who joined in for making Mount. St. Piran such an amazing experience. It was a day I will never forget!