Hikes: Old Baldy Ridge (x2) & Plain of Six Glaciers

As usual, Dana and I have been hiking up a storm as we get conditioned for the West Coast Trail (we leave on the 29th!).  Really, it’s like comparing apples to zucchinis because hiking up a mountain in Kananaskis has nothing in common with beach hiking on an island, but I suppose cardio is cardio?

Back on May 14th, we attempted to summit Old Baldy Ridge in Kananaskis.  It was a gorgeous blue bird day out in K-Country and as Dana drove us out to the mountains, I read the hiking book and figured out our game plan.  Based on online hike reviews, bloggers had noted that the trailhead for Old Baldy is a little hard to distinguish.  I can now confirm this is accurate.

We parked in the Evan-Thomas Creek parking lot and headed off down the old forestry road (I threw the hiking book in my pack for good measure but left the map in the car. Smart.)  We were meant to look for a small cairn which would mark where the trail for Old Baldy started.  Unfortunately, my eyes did not distinguish the small cairn and we blew past it, eventually ending at a very rocky creek bed where the road picked up on the other side.



Of course there was some arguing about which way to go, since the tiny illustrated map in the hiking book didn’t help us much. We worked our way up the rocky creek bed a bit, but I was convinced it was the wrong way, so then we went up the forestry road a few kilometers as it got more and more overgrown.  When we stumbled upon a big bear footprint and some scat, we elected to turn back and call it a day.


Oddly, I was the one convincing Dana that we should keep trying to find the trailhead, so we crossed back over the rocky creek and started bushwacking our way up the mountainside through an area where there had been a preventative burn. It was there I saw the largest bear scat I’ve ever seen in my life. No picture because, well, no one needs to see that much poop.


Still, not deterred, we struggled on in the heat of the day to summit the so-called mountain. It got steeper and steeper, and finally Dana took pity on Penny and carried her.  We finally called it a day when it became completely obvious that we were not getting any closer to our goal.

We bushwacked back down the mountain and found the forestry road, then followed it back to the car (passing the cairn on the way, marked with a tiny cute pink ribbon. #sarcasm)

Once back at the car, Dana checked the map and determined we were on an entirely different mountain bushwacking so it was probably a good thing we turned back when we did. Although it was an Old Baldy fail, at least we got some exercise and it was a beautiful day out in the mountains.

Distance hiked: 13 km / 525 m elevation gain
Two weeks later, on the 28th, we attempted Old Baldy Ridge again with our friends Laura and Adrian.  They are avid hikers/backpackers and I was nervous about keeping up with them.  Luckily, with all Dana and I’s hiking lately, I managed to keep up with the gang just fine.


Dana and I were both wiser about the cairn this time, and once we turned there, the trail up Old Baldy was much more obvious. Old Baldy is a lung burner for sure!  Thankfully I had Penny to pull me up the mountain.  She may be a small cocker spaniel, but her tiny legs and lungs are powerhouses!

There’s a section where the trail disappears and a rockslide takes over. Penny and I were less fond of this section.  Navigating through the slide and boulders took quite a bit of time going up.


We enjoyed lunch looking out over the valley, and got a bit of sunshine too.


After eating, we carried on with the hike and worked our way up a bit of scree, then found ourselves up at the top of Old Baldy.  It was incredibly windy and started lightly snowing, so we decided to skip the ridge walk and head back down.


The rockslide was even more challenging going down, but Laura and I managed okay and Dana carried Penny for a bit. From then on, it was a relatively easy trip back to the car.

All in all, a fun shoulder-season hike and a great day with friends!

Distance hiked: 13 km / 925 m elevation gain

This past weekend, the so-called “Three Best Friends” were united for another hiking adventure. Haley is back from her post-graduation trip now, so she is available for weekend hikes now!

We knew it was going to be a hot day, so we intended to get out to the mountains a little earlier than normal. Unfortunately, due to a late start and construction near Banff, we didn’t get out to Lake Louise until close to noon.  We had thought about doing Lake Annette/Paradise Valley (again), but due to the shortened day, we thought a less lengthy hike might be better.


This might sound strange, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been up to Lake Louise before. Turns out, it’s gorgeous!  #newsflash It’s also incredibly popular with tourists.  Surprise, surprise.

The parking lot was nuts and Dana almost left in a mad rage, but we parked on the side of the road down near Deer Lodge and got started. There were a lot of slow-moving tourists to get past, but once we got down to the far side of the lake, it was a bit quieter.  We were all in awe of the amazing blue color of the lake, contrasted nicely with the red canoes out on the water.


We elected to hike up to the Plain of Six Glaciers and the accompanying teahouse as the hiking book we have highly recommended them. It gave 0/4 stars to the Lake Agnes teahouse so we skipped it.  On a less hot day, we might have considered taking the Highline trail back to the Lake Agnes teahouse and circling back that way, but we were all tuckered out by the end of the day.


We all got a good workout in, and sweat plenty with the very warm weather. The strangest hiking apparel we saw on the trail was a woman wearing a full-length black Canada Goose parka, and a man wearing Birkenstock sandals.  Ah, tourists…

Despite the crowds, Plain of Six Glaciers was one of the prettiest hikes I’ve ever done and I’d recommend it! As for the teahouse, Dana sampled some chocolate cake and highly enjoyed the sugar rush.

Distance hiked: 17 km / 500 m elevation gain


Amazingly, we’re skipping our usual weekend hike this upcoming weekend in lieu of a bridal shower on Saturday. But we’re going on a one-night backpack on the 18th/19th so I can remember what having weight on my back feels like again.  Then no more hiking (likely) until the West Coast Trail on June 29th!  I’m looking forward to our trip so much!

What hikes have you done lately?  Any Kananaskis/Banff/Lake Louise area hikes you’d recommend?

 

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