Hiking Up Baldy Pass

Yesterday, I mentioned in a post that we had gone hiking…..We decided to go to Kananaskis Country, the place where we do most of our hiking.  A didn’t want to come with us this time, she stayed at home with the dog and cooked dinner (a ham from the pastured half pig that we picked up at the farmers market yesterday).

In the car park, waiting to go hiking

In the car park, waiting to go hiking

The hike that we decided to do this time was Baldy Pass, a fairly easy, 8km hike, with about 570m elevation gain,  that usually takes no more than 4 hours.


After leaving the car-park, which is on the east side of Highway 40, aprox 1km beyond the southern end of Barrier Lakes, you cross the road to find the trail head.

Baldy pass viewed from the car park

Baldy pass viewed from the car park

Initially, you are walking along a fairly good path through a wooded area.


There were quite a few flowers in this area despite the lateness of the season, although some of the leaves on the bushes were starting to change colour (the trees were mostly conifers):




Eventually, you come to a junction in the path, and you turn left, passing a signpost:


This path is not as good the first, it is rutted and has a surprising number of sinkholes – the result of the dramatic flooding that Southern Alberta suffered in July of this year…  Kananaskis was badly hit, and there are still some roads and campsites that are closed.


Eventually, this path gives way to what was a scree/dried up river bed – lots of gravel, lots of stones and rocks.  It is pretty hard going at this point – good footwear is needed (although Hubby and I were wearing our Vibram five fingers and they stood up to this terrain very well!)\


Here too were signs of the recent flooding.  The following picture shows what it looked like before the flooding:

Image from hikingwithbarry.com

Image from hikingwithbarry.com

And this is what it looked like after the flooding:


You can clearly see where the flood waters gouged out a new river bed, creating deep gulleys.



The following picture shows the remains of the path that has been destroyed by the floods:


Despite the damage, it is still passable.  My recommendation is that you stick to the left hand side as much as possible on the ascent in this section (and stick to the right hand side on the descent) as for most of the way there is a fairly usable path.  But despite this, this section is the worst part of the entire trip.

Eventually, you come to a small inuksuk that forms a marker where the trail leaves this section and heads back into the woods.


Hubby stopped at this point and took the following panoramic view looking back down the valley:


In this wooded area, the trail is very much steeper than the first section, with lots of tree roots and rocks in the path.  It became quite hard going at times.



This wooded area is much damper than the one down below and it is far more shady.  There were very few flowers and even a few mushrooms/toadstools growing by the path:



And eventually, you come to the top of the pass, where there is a small cairn:


The view from the top looking back the way we had come:


The gaps in the trees you can see in that photograph are the ski runs for the Nakiska ski resort.

This is the view looking the other way:


Hubby took a picture of me at the top – the problem with being the one behind the camera is that there are never any photographs of you!


But I did manage to get pics of Hubby and the girls:





Thee return trip was pretty much retracing your steps – it was much easier and faster going down however…

And by the time we got to the car, we were more than grateful for the homemade energy bars that I had brought along!

Grassi Lakes – April 10th 2011

A few weeks ago, we took the kids up to the Canmore area to do some hiking.  Having perused the guidebook we had bought (Popular Day Hikes 1 Kananaskis Country and Canmore & Kananaskis Country, short walks for inquiring minds, both by Gillean Daffern), we decided that a walk up to Grassi Lakes was a firm contender.

Both feature the 3.8km return hike, listed as being easy and suitable for late spring, early summer and fall (ok so maybe it was a bit ambitious for the beginning of April but…) in the first book, it is hike number 1, in the second it is on page 17, the second hike in the book.

Having taken advice in the tourist information office in Canmore (where we were helpfully given an additional map), we took the easy route, which was the walk up the Transalta road – not as exciting as the official path maybe, but far easier going given the snow and icy conditions.  It was very slippery underfoot.  So bad in fact, that when we attempted to return via the more difficult route (under the mistaken belief that it would be easier going down), I slipped off the path at one very steep bit and fell about 10 feet, catching myself on a tree.  At that point we realised that we were being stupid trying to take the kids down this path and decided to return the way we came, promising ourselves that we would return in the summer and walk the official path when it was less hazardous.

The scenery was stunning and we took several pictures before the camera battery ran out of oomph and died on us.

I can’t remember exactly what the above mountain was called although I do remember we identified it from the map while we were there.

At one point, I got artistic and started taking pictures of some tree roots:

Then we got to the lakes, and oh my goodness were they stunning!

And finally we circled round the top of the lake to the cliff face where there were 2 climbers.  There are a number of caves (more shallow depressions) in this cliff, and I and the kids decided to climb up to one to investigate:

The Intrepid Climbers

I and A got there first

The whole gang together

It was great to get out in the open air, and we had a really fun day with the kids: