Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Black Prince Trail and the rise to the top
As usual we got up and took our sweet time getting ready.
Once we decided on our hike, we packed our things and headed out to Kananskis country, arriving around 1:30 pm
This trail started out sweet and easy with a pretty trail walk to this lake. We walked around the lake to find that the trail head snakes it's way through an avalanche rock bed full of cairns. And then the trail heads up. It's a bit of a grind making your way up out of a lovely valley. There is a waterfall to convince you to keep going up. The part of the trail over by the waterfall would likely be quite treacherous in wet conditions so we kept that in mind in case of rain. The forecast for the day was 60% chance of rain. The light was quite flat at the waterfall and I opted to keep going rather than take photos. Keep going up that is. This trail was pretty steep we were thinking. but thankfully we knew it was not very long (only about 8 or 9 km to the cirque round trip ).
When we reached the top of this part of the climb we were in a nice big bowl (cirque) with views of the soaring Black Prince Mountain and Mount Warspite. Also the view from whence we came was lovely. So we found a nice big rock and took our lunch there. I had curried quinoa with spinach and chutney, rhubarb crisp and a couple of my hiking bars. When we arrived, there was another couple that had been just in front of us on the trail, taking their lunch as well. Also a young woman resting in the sun with her dog. I started taking photos and eventually got out my gitzo tripod that I carry and took some headless self portraits. Ken took a nap in the sun. By the time I was done shooting all of the other people had left the area to head back down.
This is when I decided we would push on to the top of the ridge. This would add quite a bit of distance and time to the hike. We chose a route on Mount Warspite that was grassy and was a low point in the ridge (col). From the ground the pitch looked do-able enough though experience had taught us to multiply by ten our expectations. haha. None of my photos show how steep it really was. It took us about an hour to make it up that final climb. I expect it was at least 400-500 m. It was the sort of steep, that you would need to scramble a bit with your hands as well if you didn't have poles with you. Thankfully we carry poles now. Our cardio wasn't tested so much as our leg muscles were.
And then we made it! It was really beautiful. It didn't rain. The kananaskis range to the east was amazingly impressive and imposing as we were viewing the highest part of the pass. The light was beautiful for taking photos. This is partially because Ken and I always start our hikes so late in the day. I expect it was around 6:30 pm by the time we made it to the ridge. It wasn't freezing either! Half the time the ridge walks have such a howling wind I curse myself for forgeting my gloves! Ken and I ran all over the ridge, snapping photos and having fun. We enjoyed the MOST delicious apple ever up there. It was quiet and there was not another person around for miles. Such a reward for our hard work!
Going down. Heading straight down a mountain is often as challenging as heading up. Ken found a nice scree area and we scree skiied down much of the mountain. Once the rocks got to big for my comfort level I picked my way down the grassy slopes while ken kept finding the rock to slide. The rest of the hike was a total picnic to descend compared to this section. By the time we got down to the cirque again, the mosquito's were out and after us. We moved as quickly as we could to hike out the rest of the way. When we reached the lake finally we overtook a family that had done the hike to the waterfall area only. We stopped to chat with them and their nice girls for about a 1/2 hour once we all reached the parking lot. You meet the nicest people in the great outdoors. Their daughters were around 12 and 8. My favorite age of children! I had a great time chatting about photography with the girls while Ken pointed out more great hikes for the saskatchewan vacationers on his topo map.
And at 8:30 pm we left the parking lot. Home by 10:30. A quick spinach omellete for dinner, a warm bath and bed. It's now 2 days later and the sore muscles are recovering nicely and we are starting to plan our next hike.
Posted by Lori Andrews at 9:05 a.m.