View from the north summit
Mist Ridge had been on my trip list ever since I caught sight of it from the top of Mist Mountain several years ago. The route is utterly simple. Nearly all of it is on trail and it can be done as a loop: traverse the ridge north to Rickert's Pass and then return via Mist Creek Trail.
From the trailhead it took Dinah and I half an hour to reach the fork: left for Mist Creek Trail, right for the south summit of Mist Ridge. The right fork was so choked with bushes it looked like a single track, but further along, the bushes receded to expose a road, a road that twists you around, takes you up and down, and does everything but turn you inside out, so when it finally delivers you to its end, you may feel disoriented. But a short hike up the grassy slope on your right puts the north summit dead in your sights and the south summit under your feet. Here Dinah and I met eight members of CORA (Calgary Outdoor Recreation Association) who were also traversing Mist Ridge. After introductions and a short conversation, Dinah and I pushed on to the north summit.
The next four kilometres would satisfy anyone's idea of an enjoyable ridgewalk, except perhaps a hardcore scrambler. You're taken up and down a gently undulating ridge while peaks on either side roll by. At first we were lulled into staying on the trail beaten into the left slope, but when we spotted big horn sheep above us we headed to the crest. After snapping photos of the sheep we continued to the north summit. After summiting, we dropped down to a sheep track and followed it to Rickert's Pass.
With the sun blazing down from blue skies it seemed a shame just yet to drop down into the gloom of the forest to follow Mist Creek Trail back. Instead, we turned to a small peak (GR497067) west of the pass. We hiked up, scrambled easily over rock ledges, and reached the summit. At 2498 m, only 50 m lower than Mist ridge, we could not only take in Mist Ridge but a large section of Sheep River Valley as well.
Then we faced the ordeal we had been dreading: the ten km hike down Mist Creek Trail. We tried to make quick time of it, but after finding bear scat bright red with berries and so fresh it was still glistening wet, we were forced to be circumspect. We hollered as we went but never did catch sight of the animal.
After finishing the trip I was surprised to see the height gain was only 790 m, a figure in keeping with the map contours but much less than the guide book's 1020 m. I can throw in another number, 1330 m, the total elevation gain displayed on my GPS receiver, but that included the little peak we climbed. But the numbers matter little. What's important is that we enjoyed our walk along Mist Ridge.
The road to the south summit leads to the switchbacks on the open slope, but not before losing
80 m of elevation.
On the switchbacks
The road ends here and we walked up the slope on our right to the south summit
View from the south summit
Heading to the next bump on the ridge
Those looking for more exercise will appreciate the 100 m drop here
We reached the bottom just as the CORA group tagged the high point behind us (mouse over)
Looking back along the ridge. Below us are a couple of wary sheep (mouse over)
A few more false summits remain
On the last false summit the true summit lies ahead (mouse over to look back)
Dinah passes a herd of sheep
On the north summit
From the summit we dropped down to a sheep track that cuts below the rock band ahead
The trail leads to the track cutting across the green slope on the left
The small peak we ascended, GR497067, lies ahead and rises 160 m above Rickert's Pass
As we start up from the pass, the scenery behind us unfolds
The rock bands are easily climbed by skirting left
Panorama from GR497067
Looking back at the little peak we climbed
Starting down Mist Creek Trail from the pass. Storm Mountain (centre) rises above Misty Basin.
Back at the junction
82 J/10 Mount Rae
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