Thursday, 28 June 2012

North Powderface as a loop

Back when I lived in Calgary, one of my favourite short hikes was Powderface Ridge North. We were up twice within a month in September and October 2007. I recently saw on Gillean Daffern's blog that Alf Skrastins had found a loop route for this spot, and being a fan of exploring new trails and loop trails, we decided to give it a shot.

Alf's directions were pretty good, to a point. That point was the ridge 250 m above the road. The trail is as he called it: flagged occasionally, blazed occasionally, cairned occasionally (the cairns are the least useful guide). While almost straight up a 27° slope, it's OK to follow, though it seemed to me easiest to just look for the route cleared of lower branches, as that was more distinctive than the blazes, cairns or flags.
KC on trail. Note the blaze on the tree next to her
Karen found an orchid on the way up.
Part the way up, you start to get some stellar views, here of Compression Ridge.
Looking WNW
So getting to the ridgetop was fun, kinda like a bush bash without the bashing. At the top, the "trail" took a 90° right turn, led down a slope for 30 m, then made a 90° left turn across a slope into the forest where it crossed a stream.
A streamlet. Note the flagging on the right.
Unfortunately, the blazes, flagging and cairns stopped here. Alf's instructions were to follow the ridge to the open meadows, but buried in the forest, we couldn't see the open meadows. We continued gently uphill in a wide open forest until it became a 3' "cliff" of rusty rock and started to go downhill. Here we turned 90° right and bush bashed uphill through a weak forest across a couple of grassy bits until we popped out on the north end of Powderface Ridge. The view was glorious.
Powderface Outlier on the left. Cornwall, Glasgow & Banded Peaks. 
Prairie Mountain 
The city of Calgary
The peaks
There was a little patch of snow in the shady side of one of the cliff bands.
A puppy had played here
We had the place to ourselves save for 2 folks with a puppy that we saw at a distance.

We thought about climbing the Powderface Outlier as we had back in 2008, but changed our minds. Instead, on our way down wia the Powderface Creek trail, we played Civil Engineers. There are many, many springs cutting across the trail, turning it into a river in spots. We cut drainage ditches in at least 8 places to drain the water off the trail as we went down.
Creek flowing across the trail 
Another, re-directed 
A long creek/trail section 
A big puddle by a spring before we got it to drain
The trail = the creek. Explaining why it is called Trail Creek
We chose this hike today because all the reports said there was snow everywhere else we wanted to go. Methinks many of those reports are bogus. Yes, there is a LOT of water around. But the snow line sits above the 2,400' m mark.

Which leads me to my next post. Stay tuned.

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