I have just arrived at the first bench on my ride up Hyperventilation Trail on Castle Mountain, and a stillness comes over me as I contemplate my next moves. This location and place in time is a much anticipated reward after pumping my lung-powered thighs up this spectacular trail.
To arrive at this feeling follow these directions: After ascending from the Coal Creek barn on Coal Creek Road following through the Montane trail network, I arrive at the River Road Extension crossing. This is where the climb starts, unless of course you have driven your truck here (not recommended, will ruin level of satisfaction). The smoothly graded, and re-routed Roots Trail snakes up to the Hypervent trailhead. This is an excellent place to unload all of the money that has been weighing you down, into the Fernie Trails Alliance donation bank. (Trails do not get maintained for free.)
The trail is graced with a seasonal show of wild flowers including Mariposa Lilies, Indian Paintbrush, Balsamroot, Silky Phacelia, Shrubby Penstemon, and Harebell to name a few. They offer a calming effect as I re-group and psyche myself up for the challenging climb ahead. As once noted by a legendary Fernie rider, “do not stop until you see colours.” The flowers may be a good alternative.
My heart beats intensely as I work to sustain the climb while the natural surroundings create an atmosphere of tranquility. I love this feeling.
After conquering some of the technical switchbacks, I can sense the relief station just ahead. The bench is located on a pronounced rock outcrop overlooking the expanse of Fernie’s Elk Valley. Stillness surrounds me as my oxygen starved mind works to piece this visual magnificence together. There’s more climbing to reach the choice destinations of Hyperextension, Castle Rocks, or Southern Comfort further above, so I linger to absorb the fresh mountain air, and enjoy a peaceful easy feeling.
Trails like dendritic extensions emanate out in all directions from our small mountain town. They are great conduits for us to connect with the landscape we live in. They lead us into the wild where there is peace, beauty and belonging to be found.
Moments like these solidify one’s reasoning for our existence. Being part of something much bigger than ourselves, the larger ever expanding universe gives some context to our minuscule presence, as does sitting on this bench, looking over the expanse, and upcoming trail users. Nature’s garden has a way of providing a certain calmness, even when faced with impending challenges ahead. Breathe deep.
Then Fernie Trails Alliance keeps the balance between over exertion and complete serenity. Have a great summer and respect all trail users, closures, and yourself.