We had originally planned on heading to Lake Louise to hike this morning, but our reluctance to get out of bed, and the crummy weather forecast made us reconsider our plans. We decided to try something a bit closer to home, and settled on hiking Wasootch Ridge. We’ve been there before, in October of 2005, but figured we’d give it another try. It’s only about an hour from Calgary, and about 11 km round trip.
The weather wasn’t great, but it was still a good hike. We had trouble, again, finding the start to the hike, but once we got started there wasn’t anywhere else to go but along the ridge. The hike was steeper than I remembered, or we’re more out of shape, and several water breaks were required for dogs and people before we’d even gone a few km. It turns out it’s a good thing the weather was cool and cloudy or poor Patches would have over-heated. We knew there wouldn’t be any water on the hike, so we (meaning me) had to carry all of Patches’ water too!
And it’s a lot of up hill – I’d been remembering it more like Northover Ridge, but there were quite a few ups and downs along the way. Having not checked the elevation gain before starting out, we were surprised when we pulled out the guide book at one of our water stops to find that we had about 1000 m of up to do.
It hailed briefly at one point, and we considered stopping where we were and calling it done. But, once the hail passed over, the weather actually improved for the last half hour of our up hike. You can spot the cairn marking the end of the trail about 15 minutes back, so, tired of carrying our packs, we ditched them in a sheltered spot along the ridge and did the last little bit of elevation gain without.
While up at almost the top of the ridge (the actual ridge summit is a 1 km scramble further than the cairn) the clouds moved over, and we had a brief period of sunshine.
So we stopped for a few minutes to admire the view, and take cheesy photos.
We’d figured on the mountains being busy, even on a Friday, but we saw no one outside of the parking lot. The absence of people on a well-marked trail is rare, so we took a lot of joy in having the whole ridge to ourselves.
It’s only our second hike of the season, and we were both bagged on the way back down. The few ups on the way back were killer, and I was lucky that Patches was a very motivated hiker and dragged me up everything. We had a few rain clouds roll over us, but luckily the biggest storms seemed to stick to the mountains further west, and we could watch them as we hiked back down.
Total trip time was about 4 hours (excluding our wrong start). Our guide book has it as a shoulder season hike, but it made for a good “off weather day” hike as well. It’s dog friendly, as long as it isn’t too warm out, you carry enough water, and your dog is OK with a few rocky ledges. Patches seemed to enjoy himself, but was also super excited to see Wasootch Creek at the end of it all.