K-Country and Crowsnest Pass

It’s been a week since I travelled down south to Kananaskis and Crowsnest Pass, and high time I write something here. I’ve never been through Kananaskis Country before, so I thought it would be interesting to drive through, and possibly do some hikes. I bought a guide book called “Popular Day Hikes”, which was pretty informative, and did a couple hikes in there. Being the crazy person I am, I left at around 9 in the evening and drove till 2 or 3 in the morning, and slept in the car in a visitor information parking lot in K-Country that had a sign saying it was closed between 11pm and 7am. So I got up at 5 and kept going.

Mornings outdoors are amazing. This is when all the animals are out, the light is beautiful, and everything feels fresh. That and almost no one else is around. So I made a few quick stops at Barrier Lake and Mt Lorette Ponds before starting my first real hike of the trip.

This was the middle of June, so the first hike I wanted to do, Centennial Ridge of Mt. Allan, was closed until the end of June so hikers wouldn’t disturb the young animals (such as goats and sheep), which are still at lower elevations. So I kept going down highway 40, stopping here and there to check out any roadside turnouts. I finally got down to Highwood Pass, which apparently is the highest paved pass in Canada. I parked in the parking lot there and started hiking up to Ptarmigan Cirque. The trail was mostly covered in snow, but the day turned out to be sunny and warm. It is a short, pretty steep hike up to the cirque, and then a pleasant walk around up there. A little stream flows through it, cascading over rocky outcrops (and under snow patches at this point). On the way down some (are they called a flock if they’re bighorns?) bighorn sheep ran up the slope past me.

I kept driving south, and stopped at the Mist Creek turnout to do the Mist Ridge hike. This trail is also used by horses, so it was wide and muddy in places. The first few kilometers were a little boring, through marshes and trees. A while after the trail forks, the trees start to open up a bit and there are some pretty nice views (which are great excuses to take a break). Then you go way down to cross a stream and curse the trail because you know you’re going to have to climb all that way back up again and more. But it’s not too bad, and the switchbacks across flowery and grassy slopes are very nice. Eventually the trail fades out, and you just climb the hill (and climb, and climb) and eventually you get to the top of the ridge. Well, not really the top, because the point you can see off to the north is the south peak. But by this point, the walking is easy, the mountains stretch out in every direction below and beside you, and you’re on top of the world. This part makes the whole trail worth it (not that the trail was that bad). You can walk along the ridge for ages – the north peak is quite far away. This is a great ridgewalk.

That’s my K-Country experience. I then drove down to Crowsnest Pass, but that story will have to wait for another post.

I should say why it’s taking me so long to get around to posting this too. I’m working on an update for the hiking / travel pages – again. (edit – this turned into TravelsAndTrails.com) Something much bigger this time, and I hope I can give you a peek before it’s done, because this one will take a couple months.

Leave a Reply