Location visible to members
This hike will not be for the faint of heart, people with a fear of heights, or people who are afraid of steep ascents and descents on loose rock and scree. No beginners. I am not a baby sitter and will not hold your hand. Wear over the ankle boots for this hike - you will break your ankle if you show up in low hikers. Gaiters may be good for keeping the rocks out of your boots during scree runs.
Distance: 10 - 15 km RT depending on how far up the lateral moraine we walk
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous depending on your fitness
Elev. gain: 650 meters +
Time required: 6 hours
Directions to trail head:
From Canmore, follow the Smith-Dorrian Road to Spray Lakes. Turn south over the dam. Follow the Spray Lakes West campground road for about 1.5 km. Where the road makes a sharp left turn and goes slightly uphill, turn right. There is parking hidden behind some vegetation. The trailhead is a bit difficult to find. Turn around if you can't find it. There are no signs!
A true gem in Kananaskis Country! The hike offers opportunities to take great photos of forest floors with lots of greens and moving water. You also get a chance to see a real glacier.
After walking along a creek through dense forest for about 2 km, the trail reaches the base of a steep rock formation. To your right is a beautiful waterfall. In spring and summer you may have to cross a creek (need waterproof boots) and some snow (need gaiters). Follow the trail through very dense bush vegetation. There are some orange ribbons indicating the trail. Aim for the steep, open area to your left.
The trail gets very steep now. It is mostly loose rock here (hiking poles are highly suggested). Up the first steep section and hang to your right. A flat area opens up which is good for a little break. Follow the trail further up for about another kilometer. The trail becomes less defined from here on (off trail portion of hike). My suggestion would be to stay on top of the left lateral moraine. (A lateral moraine is the big pyramid shaped pile of loose rock that a glacier leaves behind as it recedes up a valley) Tracking on the map stops here and we will be route-finding from this point. Keep walking for another kilometer or two, and you will reach the foot of the glacier. Again, be careful. We will be up pretty high on a pile of loose rock for a couple of kilometers. Beware of the dangers of loose moraines and glacier crevasses! Do not walk on glacier. People have gotten killed here as recently as 2 years ago.
A note: This is a nice hike as long as people don't do silly things. People caught walking on the glacier will be banished from the club. Glaciers are very dangerous. The foot and sides of of the glacier will be covered by loose rock and will not look like ice - falling into a crevasse is deadly and we will not have ropes with us to get you out.
Come prepared for hot, cold, sun, rain, hail, snow, bears and bugs.
You will be required to sign the waiver at the trailhead.
I will be attending the group picnic at bow valley provincial park near Canmore after the hike - if it is moved to Sunday.