Ha Ling Peak & Miner's Peak
Technical Difficulty: Advanced
Endurance Difficulty: Advanced
Type: Out & Back
Time: 2.5 - 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 896m
A popular hike located near Canmore, Alberta, this trek seems to be catching many people off guard of late in regards to its difficulty. There seems to be a common consensus that the hike is moderate or even easy, due to the reviews floating around stating that the hike is "easier" thanks to the construction of several staircases; it is however, far from an easy hike. I saw many families with young children on this hike, often asking others or myself "how much further is it?" This hike is straight up a work out. From the beginning you are confronted with moderate to steep incline which doesn't seem to let up for the duration of the journey.
It is certainly possible to pump this hike out quickly, but fitness level must be high in order to do so, otherwise you're looking at a strenuous hike that will ultimately test your fitness. When you get up to the top of Ha Ling you will note that you can chill out and admire the views from a lower section, or push on further to the peak. I would suggest checking out the peak if fitness and confidence at this stage of the trek is high. The view is incredible, and it's pretty cool to look off the edge of the peak as it is a sheer drop (not ideal if you're afraid of heights). Be wary there are most likely climbers beneath, so avoid knocking any loose rock off the edge. Getting to the peak is certainly a grind, and scrambling will be necessary. Scree Ski on the way down if you know how, it will make you're life a whole lot easier. I saw lots of people with the wrong footwear struggling on this hike, so I would highly recommend appropriate hiking footwear.
Once you've taken in the views of Ha Ling Peak, you can turn around and head back the way you came or push on toward Miner's Peak. The trek to Miner's will only take you roughly 15 minutes depending on pace and skill, and I would highly suggest it. If you've made it that far, you may as well. The view of the surrounding mountain ranges from Miner's Peak is incredible, and you may have the opportunity as I did to spot climbers ascending Ha Ling Peak. Not to mention you can really appreciate the incline you just hiked to make it to the summit of Ha Ling!
Once finished at Miner's Peak you can head a little further along a rough, rocky trail toward the edge of the mountains. This is worth the 5 minute trek as the view down the valley is phenomenal. Take in as much as you can! Once you've had a bite to eat and feel ready to descend, make your way to the original Ha Ling Peak trail for the way down. If you feel up for it, you can pretty much run the way down, just be careful as rock is loose in sections (I had to catch myself from falling several times), otherwise take it easy and congratulate yourself on conquering a demanding peak.
As for equipment I took both lenses up - Sony 28-70mm 3.5 and Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8, and utilised both efficiently. If you're looking to use just one, go for a lens that will allow you to capture more of the landscape, eg. 28-70mm, you'll be glad you did. Pack relatively lightly; I would suggest eating a meal an hour or so before and then just pack light snacks for the trek. There is a lot of exposure at the top so expect high speed winds and a beaming hot sun depending on weather. Bring sufficient water supply. I would not recommend this trail if it is raining, as the way down could become very slippery and dangerous.
Be sure to bring bear spray as the day I was visiting there was a black bear spotted on the trail; this is not uncommon. Hiking Poles will certainly make this journey less of an effort; I left mine in the van and was regretting it in several sections (especially useful for scree skiing on way down).