The weather this past weekend was just perfect for mountain hikes. On Sunday, my friends Paul and Robin and I decided to attack Heart Mountain. Why is it called Heart Mountain? Because it’s shaped a bit like a heart. Heart Mountain is located in the Canmore/ Bow Valley area close to Yamnuska. According to Alan Kane’s “Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies”, it’s an easy and popular scramble with one moderate step. When we parked, we were greeted with a large bear warning sign! After a little thought (i.e < 1 minute), we decided to proceed. As long as we made lots of noise, we figured we’d be okay. So onward we went…
There are several points about Heart Mountain that made me love it! The moderate step on this hike refers to the 3 metre-high wall that you need to scramble up while ascending the ridge… and it’s fun! There’s also another fun spot that looks fairly daunting, but it’s quite easy to climb.
Luckily, Heart Mountain kind of has several ‘mini’-summits and one true summit, so it always feels like you’re heading toward another reveal. The hike is also a circuit/loop, so the ascent and descent are on completely different paths. Once you reach the higher (second) summit, you can hike along a rounded ridge, hit some grassy slopes along the way, pass by two other ‘mini’-summits (some with ‘weak’ rock structures, lol), and then descend the rocky mountain and through some forests before joining up with the Quaite Valley trail back to the parking area. There are also lots of great opportunities for photos that showcase the variety of scenery found on this hike. And of course, like many mountain summits, the views from the top are lovely.
Umm… at this point, I would like to introduce Sergeant Stroker. Sergeant Stroker is a gag gift I received for my birthday, tee hee. As with many gag gifts, it’s a bit of an adult-themed item. Based on that description, it may be pretty obvious what Sergeant Stroker is all about. My friend Karmen had an idea that Sergeant Stroker should be like the Travelocity Gnome, and accompany me on my travels and to the summits of different mountains. Great idea Karmen!… however, Sergeant Stroker is no gnome ;). Heart Mountain officially marks Sergeant Stroker’s first mountain summit, and he was quite excited to reach the peak!
What also made the hike extremely fun was that we did some geocaching! I think I’ve seen the light with this, and would love to do it again on another mountain. Geocaching is like a worldwide treasure hunt. All around the world, there are over 1.5 million hidden containers called geocaches, and by using a GPS device, you can go searching for these treasures! Paul had found one in downtown Calgary before, and Robin (who loves geocaching) has an app that allows him to search for geocaches. The app will let you know the approximate location of a geocache (e.g. 275 metres N), and a clue allows you to search around for it. Once you find it, you can take a trinket and leave something, and then document it on paper and on-line. Contrary to jokes that afternoon, fecal matter is not a good item to leave in a geocache box. With all of this new information (to me), we gave geocaching a try and there were several on Heart Mountain! First, we hunted for a waterproof matchbox hidden by a conifer. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it due to a poor GPS signal, not to mention the tons of conifers around us. Next, we looked for an ammo box located under a spruce tree near a small cliff. Eureka! We found it and inside were several trinkets and things and stuff. We signed our names, left a few magic towels and were on our way.
The last one we searched for was near the end of the hike. According to the clue, it was located at the ball of a fallen tree near a white-faced rock. We found that one too! All in all, I think geocaching is awesome and tons of fun. I may have to download the app myself, or better yet, get a GPS device with geocaching capabilities. It sure adds an element of adventure when enjoying the outdoors!
Heart Mountain: 2135 metres high, with an elevation gain of 875 metres. We left the car at 11:00 am and reached the first summit after 1 hour and 40 minutes. Traversing the ridge took approximately 2 hours (which included time for some lunch and geocaching) and we were back at the car by 5:00 pm. Not a bear in sight, thank goodness. (Robin is convinced that bears were scared of his deep Allstate-commerical-guy voice… and we didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise :S). Heart Mountain- we conquered you!