Windy Point Ridge and Gleason Ridge
Although Gleason Ridge is an extension of Windy Point Ridge, the hikes couldn’t be more different. Where Windy Point is short and sweet with far-ranging views, Gleason contrives to be the opposite, long and suffering with trees shutting out any expansive views. But with slim pickings late in the season, Gleason would at least be a novel objective.
To climb Gleason Ridge it’s practical to first reach Windy Point Ridge. Unlike my previous ascent when the winter gate was closed, I could take the usual route and begin at the base of Windy Point. I started up a good trail, but when it disappeared I hiked up the grassy ridge on my right where the trail reappears on a sharp crest. It runs along an open ridge before dipping into the woods and emerging onto a tiny bare spot ringed with trees: the summit. In a short time I had whizzed through the most scenic part of the trip and now faced the long, gloomy treed stretch to the top of Gleason. It wasn’t all bad as occasional animal trails allowed pleasant hiking at times, but often I had to skirt thickets and deadfall.
I followed the ridge all the way to the summit. Locked in trees there was little to see so I had lunch and headed back. Fortunately I didn’t have to follow the monotonous ridge all the way back. For a change in scenery, I could take the monotonous valley trail described in The Kananaskis Country Trail Guide. Using a cutline running over the ridge, I dropped down the west side to the valley trail.
The trail wasn’t completely wooded and I welcomed the sight of a couple of big meadows that it skirted. At first, I had no trouble following the trail even though it was covered in a couple of inches of snow. But on the last few hundred metres there was little to distinguish the trail from the surrounding terrain and nothing to tell it apart from countless animal trails. But those trails, along with a clear forest floor and sparse trees, made travel easy and I was soon back at the bottom of Windy Point Ridge.
The trail starts up an open slope
After hiking up a grassy slope I reached a trail on the ridge
Trail continues along the ridge
Looking back at where the last photo was taken
A squirrel prepares for winter by carrying a pinecone
Not much of a view from the summit of Windy Point Ridge
Continuing to Gleason Ridge
Looking east toward Turner Valley at a thick cloud cover, a mist that I had driven through earlier
I could make out Mesa Butte to the northeast (mouse over for a close-up)
The ridge drops down to a col on the left. Ahead is the treed summit of Gleason.
I regained the ridge after the col
The snow-covered peaks west are too distant to make out much
To the northeast is Volcano Ridge
Deadfall on the crest became a reoccurring theme all the way to the summit of Gleason
By skirting left or right I was able to avoid most of it
Shortly after crossing the cutline, I threaded through some lodgepole pines
Among the tall, narrow trees, this one stood out
About 300 metres from the summit
Ten metres from the summit, logs stacked against a pointed rock served as a summit cairn
A small break near the summit allowed some views
Heading back along the ridge I almost didn't notice the cutline as it was overgrown
Looking down the cutline
From the cutline I turned onto the valley trail
One of two meadows that the trail skirts
Mount Rae 82 J/10
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