April 28, 2012
Kananaskis – Elbow River, AB
I finally finished my last final exam by the morning of this past Saturday. The weather forecast showed clear skies, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, so I decided to do a half day hike, and thus started the drive from Edmonton to Calgary after lunch. My mom came with me since I did not plan to extend the trip into Monday. Prairie Mountain is probably the closest, and also the most popular mountain from Calgary. It’s my first time driving on Highway 66, and it turned out to be a pleasant drive.
The parking was right by the winter closure gate. There is little to say about the hike, as a trail leads you from the parking area right to the top. It’s about 3 km one way hike with 700 m elevation gain, so be prepared for a steep grade if you do it as a season starter. For us, we spent just over 1 hour to get to the summit. Note that it’s my first on-season hike in 2012, that was, no post-holing, no trail breaking, etc. On the summit, you can see most of the peaks in Elbow/Sheep Valley area towards west, including the big Glasgow to Banded traverse. Moose Mountain dominates the view to north. To east, you can see Calgary’s skyline and the prairie.
We didn’t linger too long on the summit. Downhill hiking on solid ground wasn’t as fun as on snow… Whether you are on snowshoes or on boots, the snow can reduce the impact force on your knees, or even you can slide down a little bit with every step. On solid ground, it’s all on your knees… But it’s overall a very short hike so we got back to the car in no time. With the forecast still holding nicely we decided to do something bigger on the following day.