Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mt. Allan (Kananaskis)

I'm happy, not proud, because it has nothing to do with pride, it's just a challenge, that I reached the second summit of this year just past weekend: Mt. Allan in Kananaskis. And why am I happy? Because achieving a summit gives a great sense of accomplishment. In addition to that it is very frustrating to wake up early in the morning of Sat. or Sun, drive at least for hour and a half, gear up and go up for at least 2 hours or more and not being able to reach the summit. This has happened a few times so far including the following attempts in the current year:

  • March in Arizona a failed attempt to Flat Iron Mountain due to extreme heat which was the result of late start. 
  • April in Alberta another failed attempt, this time to reach the summit of The Wedge in Kananaskis due to extreme ice and snow. Bad timing was selected but it was a good exercise. 
  • Early July. A good hike up The Wedge again but was not able to recognize the trail in rocky area and climbed back. 
Anyways my original plan was to start the hike very early but due to family commitments I reached the trail-head almost at 10:15. I checked a fella who looked a nice guy just to be sure that I was not going the wrong way and together we figured out, after looking at the maps and notes, that what is called Hidden Trail is the path which will take me up to Centennial Ridge and then the summit of Mountain Allan. Although it was late but I didn't see anyone on the trail until I left the jungle and the steepness increased. That's where I noticed two girls were going up. They didn't have any backpack or anything but they said they were heading up to the summit as well. I left them after a short chat and enjoyed the beauty of wildflowers and nature around me. But the joy was not without pain! This was were I had read about it: Where the bugs attack you! I was surprised as how disturbing these bugs were! They would not go away by any means. Eventually I took out my bug spray out and sprayed a few times. It helped a little but not as much as I had expected. I thought the flower-bedded area is what that attracted them but then why would they go to humans instead of sucking the nectar out?! The good is they almost disappear as soon as you reach the main reach and the sign for the ridge is the meteorological instruments that Government of Alberta has installed. From the ridge you have a rock/pinnacle garden in front of you and the route is easy until you have almost half an hour to the summit. 
Red Paintbrushes were everywhere in Mt. Allan trail and together with other wildflowers gave a special beauty to the route
Before I get to the last half an hour of the hike, I would like to mention that I encountered 3 other parties on my way up to the summit rather than the two girls that I have already mentioned. The girls never continued. I guess they realized that they needed a little more stuff or something like that. Then there was a group of 5 or 6 people, comprised of 2 women and a few kids. The stupid thing is that the women were chatting and looked like were walking in a shopping mall while the kids were wandering around unsupervised! The fact that these idiots don't understand is anything could happen in mountains. From a loose rock that you step on and fall to a sudden thunderstorm which might hit you by a lighting. This actually was not the first time I saw these useless human-like creatures. I saw similar ones in Grand Canyon and Moose Mountain but what can I do/ Idiots are everywhere. Then there was a small group of two and another group comprised of 4 teenagers. The old-timers of firstly mentioned never made it to the top but the teenagers where coming up when I was heading down but they were struggling really badly. 
Now let's leave others to themselves with their selfies and chats and talk about the last half an hour of the hike: It was really hard the last 30 minutes of the trip. I was tired and thirsty and I had this Slept Steepness or Hidden Steepness ahead of me. I had been walking and going up for the past 3 hours and it was hot. I continued dragging myself the last part until I reached the summit. From the summit I was able to see Highway No. 1 but the smoke over the valleys limited the visibility and hid most of the beauty. At the time and for the first time I had to sit, drink a little water and chow on a small piece of Ritter Sport(!) but I made sure that my rest did not take more than 10 to 15 minutes. 
Tran on the east side of the summit. That could be a good spot for wildlife photography
I had lost so much moisture and my mouth was so dry that I barely could mix the chocolate pieces with saliva and get them down but considering the forecast and the clouds which were accumulating I decided to head down before thunderstorm starts. I kept a good speed on the way down but it felt much longer than I had anticipated. There was nothing much on the way down, compare to going up except that I saw a kind of Grouse on the trail and several good photography that I used them all. My descend took a total of 3 hour which in compare to my ascend was only half an hour less. The total hike took 6.5 hours which is not bad. 
On the way back I though I was very lucky because as soon as I left Highway No. 40 and hit Trans-Canada Highway the thunderstorm started! but the good luck didn't last long. The construction on Highway # 1 eastbound had caused a traffic jam which cost me at least 40 minutes but at last I was happy that I had made it to the summit, enjoyed the beauty of the nature and achieved a good timing. I was also happy that the rain would help to clear the smoke and maybe put out the fire. 
(Photo, top: Highway No. 1 and part of town of Canmore from summit of Mt. Allan. You can compare it with the same photo I took from the summit of the Middle Sister)

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