It's been a little while, but hopefully you have had a fantastic two weeks. I wasn't able to head out last weekend, which is why I didn't post anything last week. We are back at it again, though, so time for another adventure post. We were finally able to do the hike we had been wanting to do for the last two weeks, Pocaterra Cirque.
It's an out-and-back trail near the Highwood Pass area. The trail head is actually also the trail-head for Ptarmigan Cirque. The two hikes split off about 500 metres down the trail. That's a titbit of information we were missing two weeks ago when we ended up doing the Rae Lake trail.
The day started crisp and cold. We left Calgary around 9am and headed south past Okotoks, Black Diamond, turning off to Highway 40 at Longview. There had been a decent dumping of snow the previous day, which made the roads a bit slick, but apart from that, we never really paid it much mind. Driving up Highway 541 from Longview until it becomes Highway 40 wasn't too bad, but once we got into the park, the cleared portion of the road dropped to a little more than one lane. We took this section slow as you're constantly driving through sunny sections and sections covered in shadow. The last thing anyone wants to hit is black ice, which could easily form because of how cold it was.
Eventually we managed to get to the parking lot. We started hiking at around noon. The sun was up but the snow was thick in the mountains at about 20 cm. This wasn't bad, but it definitely made the trail really chilly. It also means that we were exactly the first, but one of the first to do the trail since the dumping of snow the day before. This was a bit of an annoyance because we ended up losing the trail a bit after 3 kms in. It is definitely easier when the trail is clearly marked.
It was an impressive trail, and walking between the fresh snow-covered peaks was an experience to behold. I don't think the pictures quite capture the majesty of the views we were greeted with. I would definitely like to redo the trail without snow as well, just so I can learn where we are supposed to go.
There are a few pockets along the trail where I don't believe the sun gets to during the winter months. You know these sections because they are significantly colder than the rest of the trail. I would definitely suggest dressing up in layers, though. You will definitely be wishing for more layers while walking through these cold sections.
We lost the trail after about 3 km, but we found ourselves in a winter wonderland filled with cotton candy trees. There were so many back-country ski trails that we could not find which way was the hiking trail. It had taken us about 2 hours to reach this point. We considered having lunch there, but we were in one of those pockets of cold that I mentioned earlier, so we decided to head back to the car and eat there.
The trail out seemed a lot longer than the trail back, even though it's the same trail. It's just that since we didn't know the trail out and spent time looking for it, it made it seem a lot longer.
I definitely recommend this trail. In fact, I think it's more beautiful and picturesque than the Ptarmigan Cirque trail.
If you want to do this trail in the winter, you have until Nov 30th, as the Highwood pass access closes from 1st Dec to June 15th each year.
Until next week, Stay safe and let us know what you do in the name of adventure.