We kicked off our hiking season by conquering Ha Ling Peak a couple weeks ago. The rain finally let up for a day so we took advantage of the sun and pilled into my car to head out to Canmore for a day in the mountains.
Ha Ling is a great beginning of season hike. It's not too long and even with snow, it's hike-able. They used to list it as a beginner scramble, but the word beginner throws people off. It can be daunting for an actual beginner, so they've since changed it to a moderate hike.
You don't really get any breaks on Ha Ling. It's starts out pretty steep and never really lets up the whole way. The nice thing is that it's relatively short and the views are pretty awesome. You can see all of Canmore just before the final push to the summit. It really reminds you of how lucky we are here in Alberta.
We started out in the late morning and took our time, pausing for lunch before the summit and taking water breaks whenever we wanted. It probably took us about 3 hours round trip. It was a great first hike of the season. Since it's still quite early in the year, there's lots of snow once you get past the treeline, but we managed to find a way up relatively unscathed.
The next day I wasn't too sore but I could feel my muscles. For me, this is always a sign of a hike that I was well prepared for. It was definitely nothing like our beginning of season attempt at Middle Sister several years ago She left me waddling for days afterwards. (And yet, I still want to hike her again sometime soon. Masochist?)
I'd definitely recommend Ha Ling, even if you are a bit of beginner. Take your time and enjoy the awesome view at the top. It's well worth the burning calf muscles!