Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain is a stiff climb to a leisurely hike at altitude.

 

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain is a perennial favorite and an excellent mountain for pre-season conditioning.  Located at the end of Hwy 22X/66, the mountain is surrounded by Powderface Ridge, Nihahi Ridge, and the impressive range on the other side of Elbow Valley.  Parking is located at the entrance to the Big Elbow Backcountry Campground in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Heading towards Forget-Me-Not Mountain with Nihahi Ridge in the background

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Forget-Me-Not Ridge - The summit is tucked in behind.

 

 

After crossing the pink suspension bridge over the Elbow River, a quick left initiates the hike parallel to the Elbow River towards Forget-Me-Not Ridge.  The Little Elbow River is a dry, rocky plain so the crossing is quick to initiate hiking on the old fire road called Wild Horse Trail

In early spring it can be a challenge to cross the river.  Along Wild Horse Trail there is a cairn to the right at the junction of the trail which begins the ascent on Forget-Me-Not Mountain but it is often overgrown with shrubbery so careful observation is expedient.  Elevation gain is aggressive through forest with an occasional justifiable pause as an opening to enjoy developing dramatic vistas.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada View from Forget-Me-Not Mountain back towards Nihahi Ridge

 

 

The small, pristine, aquamarine Forget-Me-Not Pond, becomes a tiny speck as the relentless slug up the mountain continues.  The Ford Knolls are laid out in a row beneath Nihahi Ridge.  As trees thin, the trail skirts cliff edges for expansive views of Powderface Ridge, Prairie Mountain and Moose Mountain along the borders of Elbow Valley.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Steep, rocky trail on the approach to Forget-Me Not Ridge

 

 

At upper elevation, snow over rocky trail requires attention but soon Mélanie and I arrive on top of Forget-Me-Not Ridge.  Scree formations on a section of this ridge are fascinating.  Centuries of weather, combined with erosion, freezing and thawing, have created unique, tiny rock sculptures scattered across the surface. 

The short flat, hike on the ridge travels through a brief forested section then a left turn leads to the final, brief and moderate, scree approach to the first summit cairn.  The top is cool and breezy.  The views are spectacular.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mélanie at the first summit of Forget-Me-Not Mountain overlooking Elbow Valley

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaForget-Me-Not Mountain summit with Nihahi Ridge in the background

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mélanie with a background view of Nihahi Ridge.

 

 

The top of Forget-Me-Not Mountain is relatively flat in the shape of a giant U.  The true summit, at the other end of the U, is 9 feet higher.  It is a pleasant, relatively flat walk, predominantly over scree, and welcome relief from the climb. 

Midway, a large boulder provides an excellent shelter from the cool breeze and is the traditional place for lunch.  Across the valley to the west, there is a phenomenal mountain landscape.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mélanie midway on Forget-Me-Not Mountain for lunch and shelter.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Packing up for the hike to the true summit of Forget-Me-Not Mountain

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mélanie with a background view of Nihahi Ridge

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Banded Peak, Outlaw Peak, Mount Cornwall, Mount Glasgow

 

 

At the other end of the U is the true 2,338 m (7,671 ft) summit, once the location of a fire lookout between 1952 and 1975.  Following a brief interlude for customary summit photos, the return hike begins via the route taken in.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada At the true summit cairn of Forget-Me-Not Mountain

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The beginning of the off trail descent into Little Elbow Valley

 

 

As we approach the center of the U, Mélanie expresses a desire to drop off the side of the mountain to off-trail back via the bottom of the adjacent valley.  Having never attempted this route, there is a natural reluctance. 

Reaching an impasse will make it necessary to climb back out, possibly jeopardizing the confines of short daylight hours.  Nothing ventured: nothing gained.  The new adventure begins with a lateral, reasonably angled descent into the bottom of the valley.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mélanie absorbing the view on the off trail descent of Forget-Me-Not Mountain

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mélanie prior to the battle through rugged wilderness at the valley bottom

 

 

The bottom of the valley is dense brush in variable snow depth with a partially frozen creek at the center.  Traversing back and forth across the creek we work our way through the path of least resistance.  It is a robust workout as we create a route through dense underbrush. 

Direction is determined by surrounding landmarks when they are visible.  As a light snowfall begins we enter an alcove surrounded on both sides by steep rock walls and encounter fresh cougar tracks.  Large, warm paws have left freshrecent footprints in fresh snowfall.  We are being watched.  The experience is not reciprocal.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Entering a short canyon on the off trail route from the summit of Forget-Me-Not Mountain.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada At the canyon location of fresh cougar tracks

 

 

Extricating ourselves from the off-trail adventure arrives back at the main access trail to find the only footsteps in the snow are the ones we made ourselves in early morning.

 

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mélanie at the end of off-trail in heavier snowfall

 

 

This day we owned Forget-Me-Not Mountain and on the short hike back to the car in heavier snowfall and dramatic light from a setting sun, we revel in the success of this very special, exciting and physically demanding day.

 

Forget-Me-Not Mountain - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The sunset view from the dry Little Elbow River at day's end. Spectacular!

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Thank you, June. It is not uncommon to see cat tracks in the wilderness. It is very special to actually see one, but the animals are naturally timid. Humans are not the prey of choice and there are plenty of natural selection alternatives. With two of us present there is virtually no threat. I have taken many to the summits of Forget-Me-Not Mountain. It is always a special hike of unique features. This particular trip with one of my best hiking partners was outstanding due to the successful negotiation of the off trail through the Valley, a route I had not previously attempted.

This is a stirring account of your adventure. I am pleased that those pussy-footing paws only left their prints. You probably looked to be too large for a snack on that day.

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