Although the days are getting shorter and colder, the mountains remain open and available for adventure. When my friend Adriane decided to put together a group to hike Pocaterra Ridge in the Highwood Pass area, I immediately said yes. I don’t do a ton of winter hiking, so this was a chance to complete another scramble and hike in my favourite playground before the snow hits. I had visited the area a few weeks prior to see the larches, and Pocaterra Ridge certainly makes a wonderful larch hike around the third week of September. Regardless, the scenery of Highwood Pass can’t be beat any time of year.
So here’s a super quick synopsis of the amazing hike at Pocaterra Ridge, located in Highwood Pass… it was awesome. The End. Actually, I have a bit more to say :). Hiking season is winding down and winter is around the corner… Noo!! This, of course, means that I’m trying to get in as many hikes as I can. Adriane, her friend Mia, Paul and I decided that Pocaterra Ridge was the next to be conquered. We’ve been pretty lucky with weather lately, and yesterday was no exception. The weather was great, which meant for some stunning views all along the ridge.
The really cool thing about this hike is that it can be done as a one way hike, and it’s best completed with a car shuttle. We parked one car at Little Highwood Pass, drove to the Highwood Pass parking lot about 9 kilometres down the road to the trailhead, and then hiked up to the ridge, crossed each of the 4 peaks, and hiked back down to Little Highwood Pass. The larches are beautiful at this time of year, and the ridge was amazing to traverse. It was also a pretty challenging hike. I haven’t hiked many ridges, but if there are others as awesome as this one, then I need to find me some more ridges!
As we were leaving the Little Highwood Pass lot, a few hundred metres from where we were parked, there was a mama grizzly bear and her 2 bear cubs at the side of the road! We stopped on the opposite side of the road and watched from the car. It was the first time I had seen a grizzly bear, and she was huge! And to see her with her 2 cubs was an amazing sight. The cubs were playing, running and eating without a care in the world. They didn’t even seem to notice the cars stopped at the side of the road, taking photos and admiring in awe. It was definitely a great sighting at the end of a marvellous hike :)
Pocaterra Ridge is located in the Highwood Pass area of Kananaskis. The distance from the Highwood Pass parking lot to the Little Highwood Pass lot is about 9 km. The elevation gain is about 550 metres, but the cumulative gain as you go up and down over the 4 peaks is 1036 metres. We started at 10:25 am and reached the end of the hike at 3:30 pm :), so a little over 5 hours. All in a day’s work :). And just think, had we finished 15 minutes later, we probably would have crossed paths with the grizzly family on our trail… and that probably wouldn’t have gone over too well!