That is the meaning of “Ya Ha Tinda”, Parks Canada’s ranch where they raise and train all the horses they use for backcountry travel. Besides a relatively small fenced area, the ranch is open to the public and there is a free campground which is usually filled with horses, horse trailers, and a few people. This is a beautiful area of open grassland spotted with trees, full of wildlife, and surrounded by mountains. There is a spectacular waterfall a short walk from the campground where the river cuts through the prairie creating a canyon.
The tourist information people in Crowsnest are very helpful. They photocopied exact directions for the hike up to the Chert Mines on Livingstone Ridge for me. It turns out that the directions mislead me slightly. So instead of driving around on horrible roads trying to find the spot, I stopped at the base of a big hill and started climbing. This was in the evening, so I was expecting to stop on a convenient rock, eat my supper, and watch the sunset. Well, my plan commenced flawlessly, but after eating supper the sun still wasn’t setting so I climbed higher. And higher. It actually wasn’t that high of a hill, because I got to the top before the sun set, and puttered around there for a while, enjoying the light on the mountains. From the top I got a bit better idea of where I was, and where the directions might have been pointing me. I headed back down after enjoying the sunset, and found a place to sleep that I’d scoped out earlier in the day.
In the morning I drove to the base of Turtle Mountain and climbed it. I took the wrong path at first, met some other people who also took the same wrong path, and together tried to find the right path. After a little bit of scrambling, we found the real path and continued up the mountain. It’s actually a pretty simple ridge walk to the north peak, although the loose scree over solid rock can be slippery. The top is great, and offers a good view of where I went (and was supposed to go) the day before. You can see out to the prairies on the east, and mountains all around on the other sides. From the north peak the trail to the south peak looked treacherous, but I’ve heard it isn’t too bad. But I was tired and had to get home, so maybe I’ll do that next time. The walk down actually seemed longer than the way up, which is kind of weird, but I got down all the way on the correct trail. I found out at the bottom that the trailhead is very clearly marked with brightly yellow painted rocks.
The drive home was uneventful and enjoyable. Holidays like this make you appreciate showers though.