In 1917, during WWI, Canadians took Vimy Ridge in France from the Germans. That same year, in honour of that battle, Goat Mountain, which sits at the entrance of Waterton National Park, was renamed Vimy Peak. 98 years after the Battle of Vimy, Sonny and I were able to “take” Vimy Peak without bloodshed.
It wasn't much of a battle. Routefinding is limited to seeking the trailhead and the Vimy Peak junction, both of which are signed. Although two good legs will get you to the junction, two good wheels will get you there quicker: Sonny and I cycled the nearly 7 km stretch, a ride interrupted only to cross Sofa Creek. The trail, however, is not for casual city cyclists, being sometimes rough, deep and bushy, and always narrow, always demanding attention.
After reaching the junction, we stashed our bikes in the bushes and started up a trail lined with trees and thick vegetation. We passed a couple of glades, pleasant viewpoints actually, before the tree canopy shut out views for the next hour or so. After crossing above a small waterfall, the trees relaxed their grip on the scenery, and we caught glimpses of Vimy's summit above the tree tops. Eventually the trees fell away so only ground and rocks lay between us and the summit. We plodded up the trail to a summit ridge studded with blocky rocks.
A windbreak took the place of a summit cairn, a testament to the high winds that can occur in Waterton Park. But we were met with calm air and stayed for an hour on top, taking photos of peaks and watching four unruly ground squirrels scamper around us. And we signed the new summit register. There was a single entry for last year, October 19, and five this year beginning just five days ago. Afterwards, it was time to head back.
We hiked back down the trail to the junction and jumped on our bikes. At the creek crossing, four “plant watchers,” as they called themselves, caught up to us. There were looking for rare plants and the area offered an opportunity to see them. (Trilliums, for example, can be found here and nowhere else in Alberta.) They add plant sightings to their list much like Sonny and I add successful summits to ours. After spending several interesting minutes talking to them, Sonny and I hopped back on our bikes.
When we rode down the trail earlier that day, Sonny and I, not used to riding single track with packs on, struggled to stick to the tight trail. But on the return leg, we had found “the zone.” Sonny set a furious pace and we sped all the way back to the car. It was an exhilarating finish after an exceptional hike up Vimy Peak.
Vimy Peak appears above Wishbone trailhead
The trail winds through meadows
And through trees
Crossing Sofa Creek
More meadows after the creek
Among the many wildflowers along the trail, the western wood lily drew our attention the most
Lush vegetation crowded the path
The trail climbs left of the Lion's Head, the outcrop on the left
From this angle, Lion's Head resembles its namesake
The trail crosses above a small waterfall
I couldn't resist drinking the cold, clear water from this brook. It was delicious!
Lingering snow covered the trail in places
The trail swings right and heads toward the summit
The trail runs all the way to the top
Sofa Mountain extends behind us
The trail runs around to the back before climbing to the summit
Sonny walks along the summit ridge
On the summit of Vimy Peak
Sonny holds up the summit register
The pointed peak left of centre is Mount Galwey
A squirrel looks for a handout
Heading down from the summit, Sonny crosses a snow patch covering the trail
Crossing Sofa Creek again
Sonny chats with the "plant watchers"
82 H/4 Waterton Lakes