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Prairie View
Kananaskis, Alberta
April 27, 2021

I wasn't surprised by the number of people tramping up to the viewpoint on Yates Mountain. Easy trails make it a cakewalk, and there's an option to climb to the top of the mountain. But Dinah and I had done that as well as traverse the adjacent peak, McConnell Ridge. What we hadn't done is hike Jewell Pass trail. So we settled on a loop, up Jewell Pass trail to the viewpoint and down Prairie View trail.

We parked at Barrier Lake and started up the broad trail. After hiking 1.4 km, we turned left at the junction to follow the lakeshore trail, a pleasant, open stretch albeit long and undulating. Just before we reached the junction for Jewell Pass trail, we met Justin, a novice hiker. He hadn't planned on going to Jewell Pass, but we encouraged him to join us. Justin, we learned, had started hiking in January.

The lakeshore trail had been dry, but as we commenced climbing to the pass, we hit snow, lots of it. Indeed, it was one reason why Dinah and I chose to do this hike: a recent snowfall had blanketed the mountains, but this popular trail was well-trodden; we didn't have to break trail.

With only a couple of bridges to interrupt the monotony of endless trees, we fell into conversation. Justin told us of how he recently became lost on this mountain after taking a wrong turn and spent four and half hours finding his way back. We continued to the pass where we stopped for a snack before tackling another long stretch through the forest.

Eventually we reached Prairie View. The rocky prominence provides a satisfying mountain scene yet oddly lacks a view of the prairie. After looking around, we started down Prairie View trail. We immediately came to the crux of the trip. This steep section would be easy when dry, but we found it slick with mud and ice. After that, we sauntered down the broad path, much of it covered with slushy snow, back down the mountain. The rest of the trip was uneventful, but Dinah and I were glad to have Justin's company to pass the time as we cruised through the forest with little to see.

There's no getting around that Dinah had trouble on this hike, a problem that's been worsening since she was diagnosed with severe arthritis in her knees last year. Like most of her recent trips, her hike down Prairie View trail was slow and painful, and she needed days to recover. Dinah requires knee replacements, but wait times for surgery have been extended by the pandemic; her consultation appointment is a year and a half away. In the meantime, she is going to try a treatment that will hopefully allow her to do more ambitious climbs this summer. Her knees may be weak, but her enthusiasm for the mountains is unflagging.

KML and GPX Tracks

Starting up the trail. Yates Mountain is the point on the right. The cliff below it is Prairie View.

After hiking 1.4 km, we turned left to begin the loop

The trail crosses a powerline right-of-way

As we neared the end of McConnell Ridge, we noticed deer grazing on the right

The deer appeared unfazed although we passed within a few dozen metres

Dinah and Justin start up Jewell Pass trail

The trail runs alongside Jewell Creek

Crossing the first bridge

The waterfall under the second bridge was frozen

Crossing the second bridge

View of McConnell Ridge from the bridge

We were grateful to find a trail in the deep snow

Jewell Pass

Trudging up the trail with nothing to see but trees

The trail reaches the ridge with the viewpoint

Looking back

Standing on the viewpoint

Mount Baldy sits on the other side of Barrier Lake

Prairie View trail runs down the west ridge

As we came down the trail, two people appeared on the viewpoint

A final look back before the trail enters the trees

82 O/3 Canmore

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