It has been a long time since I wanted to hike up Prairie Mountain and that is not because it is a special hike. I wanted to do that because it is in a different area than Canmore and Banff. Besides that considering the weather, it should be fairly easy. So I woke up at about 07:30 yesterday and look at the window. I had known the weather and seeing it kept me back from going. But bu 10:30 I realized I would have not been able to stay at home for a whole day. So I grabbed my gear and headed for Kananaskis Country in Bragg Creek area after buying a few liters of gasoline.The road was not as bad as I had thought. Was even better than the City streets. i don't know whether it was because that it had snowed less or there were more plows. I saw one going the opposite direction on Highway No. 8.
I reached the Elbow Falls area around 11:45 and I was confident this time that I would find the trial head easily and go up with no difficulty as this was my second time I was there. The temperature was something around -12 degrees C but I had enough on, with no tuque and no gloves or mitts. I had everything in my backpack though. It was not snowing but the ground had anywhere from 2 to 5 cm of snow. The trial had been walked on so I did not have to exert too much energy by stomping on the snow especially when I was going up. There were a few vehicles parked but didn't see anyone around. I realized after a few minutes, maybe half an hour or so, that I was going down instead of going up. I thought perhaps I am getting close to the main trial but when I saw a guy with his dog and asked him if that trial was leading me to Prairie Mountain, his answer was a simple now! Apparently that was a loop which later on I learnt it was called Prairie Creek Trial and it's trial head is just a few meters from Prairie Mountain trial head!
I though that would not be a good idea to go back and find the trial head especially because I was not aware of it's location at the time. At the same time the guy told me that the trial length was 12 Km and I would probably be able to go back to the road, Highway 66, before it gets dark. I didn't want to take the risk so I decided to make it a 4-hour round trip.
I continued on the trial and I must say, its a very easy one. The fact that I was doing it in the cold winter and snow was on the ground made it a bit challenging. This trial would be child's play if I did it in summer or fall and only running make it worth trying. I saw a few other people who were well equipped with poles, Spikes, tuque and other requirement but I only had to put my gloves on on the way back as it was getting a bit cold. At the end of my going round after a sign which was read Prairie Link, the trial got a bit uphill and I guess it was leading to one of the mountains close by but I had to go back after 2 hours to be able to get to the vehicle because it gets dark. When the time reached a certain hour that I had been already on the trial for more than 3 hours I felt both tired and hungry, something barely had happened to me on more strenuous hikes such as Grotto Mountain. I did not have any water on me but i had two bars: An Elevate Me and a Nature Valley was home at about 17:00. I assume it would be an easy walk or hike, whatever you like to call it, in summer, good for kids and elderly. Looking at the information available on the Web, now I know what my mistake was and I'm hoping that I will be able to make it to Prairie Mountain one day soon.
(Photo: Winter view in Prairie Mountain Creek)