The Obelisk was a famous Hoodoo in Wind Valley near Dead Man's Flats west of Calgary, Alberta.
On a later morning start in the dark for the drive west from Calgary, Alberta, Canada on the TransCanada Highway under cloudy skies, a giant Chinook Arch is completely blocking the Eastern horizon. Parking at the trail-head south of Dead Man's Flats recalls the hike to the 2,395 m (7,855 ft) summit of Pigeon Mountain earlier in the summer. Today's hike will venture further west into Wind Valley.
Today's hiking target will seek out the elusive Obelisk, a renowned hoodoo hidden high above South Wind Creek. This hike is a one way 3.2 kilometer (2 mile) hike but a wrong turn, in an area of confusing logging and forestry roads, results in climbing west of the original objective and achieving significant elevation onto Wind Ridge.
The ascent on Wind Ridge continues past the black seam and altitude gain continues until breaking the tree line into a wind gusting to 100 KM/hr (62½ miles/hr) that is making standing and photography challenging.
A retreat back down into Wind Valley hikes through the array of unsigned roads and trails until the correct route, across the wooden bridge, at the confluence of the West and South Wind Creeks provides the correct route. Another significant ascent is required to arrive at the tiny trail into the isolated and tiny hoodoo area located down the side of the valley.
Our Wind Valley Obelisk has fallen down, but several other lesser hoodoos remain.
The return trip offers excellent views of Wind Ridge across the valley. The originally intended short, easy hike of 7 kilometers (4⅜ miles) and 800 ft (244 m) of elevation becomes about 15 KM (9⅜ miles) and 3,000 ft (914 m) of elevation but the effort has created an excellent hike and return to the trail-head is achieved by mid-day on a gorgeous, sunny day within close proximity to the Town of Banff which will allow a soothing soak at Banff Hot Springs.
Within an hour, arrival at the soothing 39° C water beckons at Banff Upper Hot Springs surrounded by spectacular snow-capped mountains including Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain. The pool is uncharacteristically quiet so the experience is a leisurely soak in the sun, followed by a couple of photos of Cascade Mountain, before the drive back to Calgary.