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Forgetmenot Ridge North Summit
Kananaskis, Alberta
August 29, 2022

Distance: 15.2 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 734 m

In 2008, Dinah and I hiked Forgetmenot Ridge and Forgetmenot Mountain, and now we returned to climb the easier North and Northeast Summits. The long, open ridges are the picture of tranquillity, except for a bear charging toward us.

Our hike began at Little Elbow Recreation Area. We crossed the Elbow River bridge and followed a trail to the edge of the gravel flats. On the other side, a red diamond marks a continuation, actually an old road. The trail to Forgetmenot Ridge begins after the road crosses a creek.

After a steep climb, the grade mercifully eased, and we caught sight of Forgetmenot Ridge North Summit. A short time later, we could see where hikers could leave the trail and take a direct route to the summit (see Sonny's trip report). But it was a fine day and we were in no hurry. We skipped the shortcut and stuck to the easy trail, opting to walk the length of the ridge. When the trail ended at a cairn, we turned and ambled along the ridge to the summit.

We spent several minutes by the huge cairn before turning around. We followed the ridge to where it connects with the ridge to the Northeast Summit. Here's where things got interesting.

After starting up the ridge, I spied a black bear about 150 m away. It was more than the 100 m that experts recommend staying from a bear. I expected we would go unnoticed or at least be ignored. I alerted Dinah and pulled out my camera. But incredibly, the bear caught sight of us and reacted by racing towards us! Distracted with my camera, I was caught off guard, but Dinah acted swiftly. She took out her bear spray and told me to do the same. Then she yelled. The bear turned tail and ran. It all transpired in seconds. I still had my camera in hand, so I videoed it fleeing over the ridge.

The bear was out of sight, but we weren't sure if the threat had ended. We cautiously wandered up the ridge looking for the bear, but it had disappeared into the woods.

We finished our trip without any more surprises. We continued to the Northeast Summit which was barely higher than the North Summit and turned around. We returned to the trail marked with the cairn and hiked back to the parking lot.

Since this bear encounter, we learned a few things. When we hiked through the forest, we yelled to warn bears but stopped when we reached the open ridges with far-ranging views. But we should have kept hollering (bears can hear human voices as far as 300 m away). Even a dip in a meadow can conceal a bear, which was in our case. And despite what experts say, 100 m might not be a safe distance. A final sobering thought. Black bears can run 40-48 km/h. At that speed, a bear can cover 100 m in eight seconds.

KML and GPX Tracks

Crossing Elbow River. Forgetmenot North Summit appears left.

We crossed the gravel flats without getting our feet wet

Continuing across the broad flats

Hiking along the road on the other side of the river

After the trail crosses a creek, we turned onto the trail to Forgetmenot Ridge

Below is Forgetmenot Pond

We passed two Holey Rock Trees

After a grueling climb, the trail leveled off and we caught sight of the North Summit

To quickly reach the ridge, hikers can leave the trail before the trees

But we continued up the trail to the cairn barely visible above Dinah

Behind us, Nihahi Ridge stretches across the skyline

The trail disappears soon after the cairn

The North Summit is over 800 m away

The summit appears ahead of Dinah but is still hundreds of metres away

Almost at the summit

Looking back from the North Summit. The Northeast Summit is left.

The summit cairn sits 100 m from the mountaintop

Standing by the giant cairn

Powderface Ridge lies nearby. The small, half-bare point is Rainy Summit.

Banded Peak, Outlaw Peak, Mt Cornwall, Elbow Hill, Mt Glasgow, Mt Romulus, Fisher Peak, Mt Fullerton. Mouse over to see the names.

We headed to the ridge leading to the Northeast Summit

Ahead is Forgetmenot Ridge

Looking back at the North Summit as we turned to the Northeast Summit

A black bear flees after Dinah yelled  

On the skyline centre and right are Forgetmenot Mountain and Forgetmenot Ridge. Far left is Allsmoke Mountain.

Heading to the summit cairn

Panorama from the Northeast Summit

At the end of the ridge there's another cairn. In the background are Moose Mountain, Prairie Mountain, Îyarhe Îpan, Swany's Ridge and Quirk Ridge (mouse over).

Hiking back, the North Summit fills the centre

While passing the North Summit, we noticed a dozen hikers gathered by the cairn (mouse over)

Starting down the steep trail

82 J/15 Bragg Creek

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