October 11, 2012
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Route map and elevation profile.
With a glorious long fall in Alberta, we attacked Pocaterra Ridge. I had to make a run to Canmore to pick up my trekking poles first (glad I did), so after that and a fill-up I drove out to the trailhead at Highwood Pass. We had eight people in our group – a pretty large group! The advantage here is that we had enough cars to do this as a point-to-point hike; we weren’t forced into an out-and-back. I ate a Subway while I waited for the other folks to show up and set up the shuttle, and then off we went.
A beautiful hike through meadows that were full of wildflowers not a month ago led to the base of the ridge. The smell of fall was everywhere, with the damp, moderately pungent but still refreshing odour of disappearing vegetation omnipresent. The ridge itself climbs out of the meadows with a bit of a trudge, but when you reach the top you’re rewarded with a valley view on the left and hwy 40 on your right. A technical – but spectacular – traverse of the ridge leads you to a steep and long downhill through trees to the north end of the trail, where we’d stashed a car for shuttling. This descent is really made easier with trekking poles. On the south end before the ridge, the Larch trees were still full of yellow needles, while on the north end they were bare. Just awesome.
It’s fair to say that when I was on top of the ridge I was in exactly the place on the planet I wanted to be at exactly the time I wanted to be there. That should be evident from my grinning like an idiot in the video, below. I’ll get some photos up of this eventually, but here’s what Garmin and Strava had to say about the hike. Even the drive in and out was spectacular and relaxing – given the lateness of the season, there was very little traffic; not a motor-home to be seen on highway 40, which can be a bit of a slow drive in the peak season!