I hope you had a great week and, if you're in Canada, a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. Some unfortunate events happened in my week that made it tough, but I was very grateful to be able to get out to the mountains on the weekend. It was needed very much.
This weekend we decided to do the Tent Ridge Loop. It looked like it would be fun and the few pictures people have posted looked great. It was supposed to be the hardest trail we have done this year with an elevation change of 850 meters. Alltrails lists it as a 10.9km loop too, which was way off according to my Garmin watch. We decided to do the trail clockwise, which means that we climbed the scramble rather than went down it. Watching the people come down had me very concerned about having to come down that way. There is significant exposure on the scramble, so if you are scared of heights, you might want to avoid this hike.
We left Calgary at around 8.15am because it is near Mount Engadine Lodge, which is a long drive, especially since I take the Smith-Dorrian Trail road slowly as it is a gravel road. We started hiking at about 11am then. There was some snow on the ground, but the trail was mostly clear at the start. After walking about 2km, the snow got a little thicker and the hill got a little steeper, so we pulled aside and put our micro-spikes on, which ended up saving us throughout the day. In fact, the micro-spikes stayed on until we got back to the car, so I definitely suggest using them.
The trail starts with about 2.5-3kms of walking through some woods to get to the ridge itself. Then it opens up into a wonderful meadow that is surrounded by the ridge. The trail then moves to the left and you go through a short stroll back through some trees before opening up again. This time, however, you are lined up along the ridge and have the scramble ahead of you. With the spikes on, it wasn't too much trouble. I was able to do it without the use of poles as I had my camera in my one hand most of the day. Once you get up to the first hump, we had to try and find the trail. One of the guys in another group found "a" trail. I'm not too sure if it's "the" trail, but it had a decent amount of exposure up to the next hump on the scramble. However, at this point, you start getting an idea of the views you will see once you reach the tower at the first peak.
We took the first portion of the tower pretty slowly, making sure we weren't stepping wrong. The wind was howling as well, so I definitely recommend taking a windbreaker. The original plan was to stop at the first peak by the tower and have lunch, but the wind was just too powerful and cold, so we decided to take a couple of pics before moving on. Once you leave the first peak, you descend along the ridge. The decent is a lot more steep in person than it seems from the rest of the ridge or even from the ground. You follow short switch backs as you go down. As the ridge goes lower, you almost get to the tree line on one side, but on the right, the side you came from, is a barren bowl with a steep drop off. Once at this point, though, there is a pretty steep uphill again to the next peak. Again, this portion feels a lot steeper than it looks from the rest of the ridge and even from the trail at the base of the ridge.
We stopped half way up this point because one of the group started crashing and needed some time to rest. We found out later that they were experiencing a fear of heights for the first time. After that, we just took it slow and made sure not to push anyone to go faster than they were comfortable with. Making it to the second peak opened up a whole bunch of other views. We could see Watridge lake in the distance. We could also see the trail-head for Burstall pass on the ridge, which was great. The views were phenomenal from up on the peak.
Once you leave the second peak behind, you follow the ridge down the opposite side from the scramble you did earlier in the day. The sun was hanging low over the other peak by this point in time. It was great because we were able to get a great soft light to photograph the views in. Eventually, after being buffeted by the wind for about 40 minutes to an hour, we reached the end of the ridge and the expanse of view that opened up was breathtaking. Everyone agreed it was easily the most stunning view we had seen on any of our hikes this year so far. (It's this blogs cover photo).
I would definitely do this hike again. Although don't be fooled, it is definitely not 10.9kms as AllTrails says. My watch died at hour 5 and we had done 11kms at that point. We still hiked for another hour and a half to get back to the car after that. We feel we must have done closer to 15 kms after all said and done. Also, make sure you take micro-spikes! There were a lot of people that had slipped and hurt themselves on the trail.
Until next week,