Saturday, 24 September 2011

Enjoying the Fall on Lawson

It was an awesome fall day. In fact, it was more like mid-July than the late part of September. The skies were blue, the sun brilliant, the temps were a balmy 25° at the top at lunch and 28° at the end of the day. So we took the day off to go climb a mountain. We didn't quite make it to the top, though.

We headed way down south to climb the south end of Mt. Lawson, a "new" trail described by Gillean on Page 306 of Volume 1 of her new guidebook.  The hike starts along a road beside a diversion ditch of a creek, which reminded me a LOT of hiking on Maui.
The diverted creek. Today's objective: climb the mountain in the background
The creek in the ditch 
The ditch
In many ways, the hike is like the Hunchback Hills, which also follows a route up a ridge. The "path" is great in spots, absent in spots, but not typically hard to find it you lose it. It runs right up against the cliff on the right side in the photo above, occasionally with spectacular drop offs.
The Opals on the other side of the valley 
Mt. Wintour and the Opals
Yet another wicked drop-off
As we got higher, we also started getting views back to the Lower Kananasakis Lakes...
The sun glistens across the valley to the larches on Kent Ridge.
We got excited as to what we would find at the top
We got to the top of the first summit to find a few larches in splendid colour, but not much in the way of views...
Larches in colour
...except up to the next summit.
It just gets steeper
From here the trail grunts up a 55° grass slope...
Very steep grass. Tougher on the way down, actually
...then flattens on more grass & dryas.
Great views & great walking
This, however, didn't last long. We arrived at the last pitch before the summit. Acres and acres of moderately stable scree.
A lot of rock. Easier at first.
A 40° slope on one side, a cliff on the other, and unstable scree
We started up this bit but after about 5 minutes didn't like the exposure, so we turned and bailed, following the Ryder Family Motto:
Be Chicken and Live
Me beating a hasty retreat
KC doing likewise
We were happy to eat lunch on the "grassy knoll" some 30 vertical meters short of the summit with this view.
KC and the Kananaskis Lakes
This was an interesting hike, but I had hoped for more larches. It was a magnificent day, and even better in that we had the place to ourselves. On our way home, we saw the Galatea parking lot full to overflowing with cars, as well as several other popular spots. The hike gave us a great overview of King Ridge, directly across the valley, which is on my list of "things to do".
King Ridge. Up on the right, then across.
It was a wildlife-free day. A few birds (chickadees, crows and gray jays), one chipmunk, some elk and sheep poop were all we saw.

Gillean says:
I'm betting this route up the south ridge will become enormously popular with experienced hikers; there's a rudimentary trail most of the way, the gradient is gentle most of the way, a rock ridge at the top adds spice, the summit is an unusual viewpoint, and lastly there's the option of going farther.
There's no real evidence that she'll win the bet so far. The trail comes and goes a lot, and after a year of the book being out, the trail doesn't show signs of being "enormously popular." The gradient is consistent and not too steep except in spots. The rock ridge at the top defeated us, and I suspect would bother a lot of people (it was reminiscent of Tent Ridge but harder). Never got to the option of going farther.

But the views at the top are wonderful. And on a busy day in the mountains, it was just us. Kinda nice to find places like this.

1 comment:

Edwin said...

Love the family motto LOL! Update on the Bekkerings to follow in a bit!