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Storelk East Ridge
Kananaskis, Alberta
September 24, 2023
Distance: 5.2 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 485 m

When larch season rolls around, crowds flock to Highwood Pass, but for our larch adventure, we hiked nearby in solitude, up the east ridge of Storelk Mountain. Not only were larches abundant on the ridge, but there were plenty of clearings to view them.

Exploring new terrain is always welcomed, so Jonathan, Zora, Tomiji and Mikako were willing to join me. We used Storelk Mountain Trail for the approach. Within minutes of starting, however, we encountered a difficulty: a mudslide on a creek bank had scoured away the trail. After finding the trail on the other side of the creek, we hiked 250 m before turning off onto a little side path. We crossed a brook and started up the east ridge.

The ridge crest was bushy, so we kept left where bushwhacking tended to be light and brief. An hour after starting, we were delighted to be brushing against yellow larches. In contrast, the sky grew darker, and it began to snow lightly. Later it turned to drizzle and it continued for the rest of the trip.

As we followed the ridge, we marvelled at the autumn scenery, and each turn revealed something interesting. Eventually we reached a grassy high point and settled down for a break before moving on. We followed a grassy ridge far down to the end of a valley to a talus basin edged with larches. We spent considerable time wandering through the yellow trees, taking photos.

We continued down the valley, mistaking going left instead of right, but after bushwhacking a bit, we found the trail and followed it back. It wasn’t an easy trail to follow, being overgrown, and at one point we inadvertently got on another trail and had to bushwhack to get back on track.

When we reached the creek, we followed a path downstream which avoided the mudslide we encountered earlier. Strangely, we saw no trail on the other side, but a short bushwhack led us back to the trail and thus to our car.

Because of the inclement weather, we finished our hike, a bit wet and muddy, but it wasn't enough to detract from the satisfaction of a tranquil trip through golden larches.

KML and GPX Tracks

A small cairn marks the trailhead

The trail drops down to cross the stream

Crossing was easy but climbing the opposite bank proved difficult

We had trouble finding purchase in the soft mud

After a couple of hundred metres, we left the trail and crossed a brook using a path that appeared recently cleared

After starting up the ridge, we soon found clearings

We saw Storelk Mountain before low clouds swallowed it up

Bushwhacking was mostly light

Mount Lipsett in the background

We made our way to the ridge on the far left

Looking across the valley to the ridge south

We continued up the ridge

Hiking up a steep patch of bare ground

Once we reached the ridge, we easily followed it

Continuing up the ridge

Loose dirt offered poor purchase up the steep slope

It snowed lightly as we ascended

Highwood South Peak on the left

Continuing up the ridge

Jonathan snaps a photo from our high point

Jonathan, Zora, me, Tomiji and Mikako

I hung back to take a panorama while the others started down to the basin

We regrouped on the ridge below

We followed the grassy ridge down to the basin

Stopping to admire a brilliant larch

Nearing the end of the ridge

Looking back at the ridge we descended

Looking down the valley

Wandering through the larches

We came down, stopping frequently to regard the larches

We crossed the remains of an avalanche

Back on the trail

Looking across the valley at the ridge we climbed

The trail was bushy throughout its length

To avoid the mudslide along the stream, we took a different trail and crossed downstream but didn't find a trail on the other side

82 J/10 Mount Rae

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