Volcano Ridge 2014

October 18, 2014, at 02:00 AMerika

Repeating the Volcano Ridge hike from 2012 - in the fall this time, rather than the spring, Nhu and friends, and Mike and friends. The first 400 metres of trail were fairly muddy and well trodden by horses, but afterwards it dries up. The trail passes through open meadows, and gently rolling terrain until the good hike up to the ridge itself. We took the extra stretch to the nearby peak, where we could see the Calgary skyline to the east and a beautiful fall mountain view to the west. A spectacular day out! Read more...

The overall distance is 19 km, with 605 m elevation. Its found at the tail end of Gorge Creek road, just off Hwy 546 due west of Turner Valley. From this, we decided to meet up at the south end of town at 8:30 and carry on. I had no takers to join me to watch The Wardens (youtube) perform at 7pm in Turner Valley, so I drove solo. What a spectacular drive! At one point along the straight road of Hwy 22, there were ducks slowly making waves on a peaceful slough, horses grazing in the field around it, a beautiful barn surrounded by trees with yellowing leaves, and behind it, fields with rolled bales of hay. All against a blue sky day, with only a few white puffy clouds to break it up. I could've sat there and watched the time go by for hours.

Instead, I carried on to the trailhead. The road north of the trailhead is definitely being shut down and left to over grow. Interesting seeing that happen. No trees on it yet, but its all grassy. The three cars met up, and we headed out. As stated, the first stretch was fairly muddy but it doesn't go for very long, and you can easily step around it (though you should try not to to prevent trail braiding/widening). The fields were as I remembered, with only two small creeks - which are at most a metre in width - to skip across.

I've pictures from the last trip to remind me of the strong climb up towards Volcano ridge. Its a good workout on the legs, and I took advantage of a couple of breathing breaks to actually take pictures. Definitely had some fun conversations - and it was great to catch up with Nhu's friends who I haven't seen in ages.

There's a barely-marked off-trail, with a small rock cairn, heading up towards the nearby Volcano Peak. It doesn't really look like a trail until 25 metres in, and even then you have to be vigilant to keep at the main trail, rather than get caught up in conversation and discover you've been following a animal trail. The peak is fairly obvious and helps for repositioning. During this stretch, the trees start to thin out, and we were greeted with windy conditions. As often is the case, I completely forgot about lunch, and the wonderful people I was hiking with pointed out the hour. We found a nice glade in the trees to act as refuge from the wind, and talked of fun food stuffs, homemade jerkies, and all sorts of tasty things discovered on travels.

The peak itself was fairly straightforward to ascend - a grassy knoll basically. As stated, the clear blue sky enabled us to see all the way to the city skyline. The downtown buildings were clearly visible, and it looks like the new hospital down south is also obvious. Behind us, the mountains are beginning to gather snow, but we didn't encounter any at all (as expected from the forecast). High of +16oC, though windy.

Our return to the main loop was uneventful. Rather than go back the way we came, we carried on around the loop. There is a stretch where the trail has seen some good wear from rain run off, and there's a foot hop across a 2 foot chasm to avoid bushwacking. The way down is fairly steep, and a gentle jog or poles help keep the knees comfortable. We helped with breaking some older trees that crossed the trail, and made our way to the final triangle point. The third edge of the Volcano loop is fairly flat, amongst the trees. Worthwhile to have good company to chat with, while enjoying creeks that might cross, keeping an eye open for squirrels, and the odd fence. The bog was better having had time all day to dry out. We had encountered another group of hikers, and a few mountain bikers along the way, but otherwise fairly low key.

Since I was in no hurry to arrive in Turner Valley overly early and wait in town, I paused along one of the pull-outs on Hwy 546. The sun was an hour away from setting, and with the fall season, the bare poplars and aspens cast long, thin shadows over the golden grasses and crisp leaves. An open meadow behind them emphasized this. Rolling hills covered in dark green pines lay at the base of the increasingly shaded mountain peaks. All still under the bright blue sky, sparsely dotted with popcorn clouds. I should've brought chair, blankets and a thermos of tea. What a great day. :)

BlogIt Side bar

Recently Written

erika: end hiding comments and categories

erika: end hiding comments and categories

Group-Specific Sidebar

Blix theme adapted by David Gilbert, powered by BlogIt