Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Holy Cross Mountain Hike/Scramble

I made a number of bad mistakes for this last hike of mine; The hike/scramble/sliding down(!) of Holy Cross Mountain, in Kananaskis, Alberta (in case someone from outside the province is reading this, and wonders where it is located which is very rare and even they do, they might not care much!). First of all I decided to go on a weekday mainly because at times it could be very busy, both the road and trail, during a weekend. There was absolutely no one on the trail during the 10 hours that I was there! Had something happened, there would have been no chance that I come alive out of that area!
Then I didn't read all the available ascend reports and relied solely on the GPX downloaded from Matt's site. I must clarify here that I call this fella here in this post by his name not that because we're hiking buddies or anything similar to that. It's just that he's a good hiker and nice enough to provide information but my mistake was not paying attention to the date that he had saved that file. It was 4 years ago and much of the trail had been faded in that time period!
In addition to the two bad mistakes I also didn't have any stick although I found a couple on my way up and they both broke! I put my trusty stick on the ground on the way back from Mt. Tyrwhitt to take a photo and forgot it.
I started my hike at around 07:30 hours, thanks to Matt's information both for the GPX, as I mentioned and the coordination of where I parked but the stupid GPS caused me problem again! The mountain is accessible through Highway # 40 and should be approached from Longview. The stupid GPS took me through a gravel roller-coaster road between farms! I was lucky that I didn't get a flat tire!
The first hour and a half of the hike is easy and with no challenge. You would start next to a stream which goes hidden after half an hour and then you would walk between beautiful flowers. The GPX is needed after that because first you go up a hill and then have to climb down to a sort of stream bed/gorge which was dry at the time.
Both sides of the trail, for a long walk, is covered with beautiful photos including this type which appears in trio here
I crossed it on my way up and it was not so pleasant because of the difficulty I had to climb up at spots but I did it anyways. Then you would get to a not such a vast meadow and this is where the major scrambling and climbing starts and there's not much of trail that can be seen. The funny thing at that moment, after more than 2 hours of hiking was that I didn't still know what mountain I had to climb up! The GPX was not very clear! Here I was there looking at tall stone walls surrounding me I finally figure it out. The next hour was not so bad. The weather was nice, no rain, not hot and no other damn disturbing thing. The good thing about this trip was that I had enough water with me and it helped a lot. I'm usually very lazy with hauling things up, even the water but this time I had an old, metallic, telescopic tripod in my backpack, which had given to me by The Lady and it was heavy! I was hoping to take a shot of myself at the summit but it was never used!
I stopped at a stream to drink some water on my way back and took this photo to show how steep the damn trail is. It takes between 8 and 10 freaking hours to reach the summit
Then after that the disaster started! I was only 300 horizontal meters away from the damn summit but it was all scree and at time I would simply slide down when I put my foot on a rock, no matter how big or small it was! I think I traversed at least 8 times to be able to both stay on the damn trail shown by the phone and avoid loose rock and be able to go up without sliding, falling or injuring myself! I was so tired and there was no sign of anyone! Usually when you see one or two people on the trial it's not only encouraging but also gives you the sense of competition. I was about to give up at least 3 times while I only had a little more to the summit. I eventually was able to get myself to the damn ridge and be able to see the other side of the mountain but that was it! I had a little more than 80 horizontal meters to the summit this time but I was a very dangerous spot. I climbed down about 2 to 3 meters to get myself to the summit from below of it after taking a number of photos but I realized I was too damn tired to finish it and started going back down!
Proof that I reached the ridge, almost at the same height of the summit! This photo shows the mountains on the north side of Holy Cross Mountain but don't ask me to name every each of them. I don't even know one! 
Going down was, as usual, worse than going up. I slipped and landed on my ass a few times and ripped by pants, basically! I should say that the pants were eroded because of me landing on rocks and stones. While I wasn't injured at all, I was exhausted and thirsty! Luckily there was a narrow stream there and I got some water and half of a so-called energy bar with the hope that I can continue faster and reach down before a storm starts or the night falls. Even the old Sand-Skiing method didn't help. In fact that was my worst descend. At this moment I reached the stream/gorge again and I was hopeful that I didn't have to cross it by following the GPX and I succeeded. I went from the right side of it but I noticed that I'm losing my phone's battery very fast. The nightmare of the time that I got lost in forest came to me with this difference that my chances, seemed at the time(!), much slimmer to survive! I increased my speed and I really mean increased it, in a way that I was running between the trees and looking at the screen and in front of me at the same time! I was really tired and I had about 6% on the battery at around 15:20, I guess!
I was worried about my vehicle too! The last time I got lost, I had not driven to the trail-head. This time I was worried that something might happen to it. I eventually reached the hill and took a short break there. Then I continued my hike back to the trail-head by following the damn phone.
When I eventually reached the path, the phone had only 4% charge. I was sure that I simply could follow the trail and get myself back to the car without needing the GPX but I was very slow at the time because I was very tired. I allowed myself to take a number of photos and also had to stop by the stream to drink more water. I finally reached the car at about 17:30 and ended my 10 hours hike!
When I was coming back down and falling(!) I regretted that I even had started the hike and promised myself that I would not recommend the hike to anyone but now after a little more 24 hours, I think I want to go back up there and reach the summit. You should too! It worth all the trouble and difficulty!
(Photo, top: Holy Cross Mountain. I guess I took this from the hill on the trail which is about hour and a half from the trail-head. The camera is looking at northwest at this point)

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