Following my morning hike to Hummingbird Plume Lookout, I enjoy lunch on the shore of Wedge Pond prior to a leisurely, flat hike around the pond. I locate the trailhead to ‘The Wedge’, knowing full well I will not have sufficient time to complete the hike to the scree slopes near the summit, looming above me, across Wedge Pond. The entire hike would be 3.9 KM (2.4 miles) each way with an elevation gain of 900 m (2,953 ft) to maximum altitude near 2,438 m (8,000 ft). The middle of this hike is very steep.
The trailhead is vague between the small metal culvert, and the wide gravel path from the parking area to the shore of Wedge Pond.
Within a short distance, the wiggly trail, littered with deadfall, passes through a more open area. As the trail continues in forest, I lose the route past a dry creek bed and retreat to make a shift left above the creek bed. Trail quality improves substantially and, unusually, gets better with distance.
The trail to ‘The Wedge’ is relatively flat when it begins from the shore of Wedge Pond but as distance increases, so does the angle of elevation. At first, the elevation gain is subtle but before long it becomes exponentially aggressive as the trail tracks a very beautiful cascading creek. This hike changes into a high aerobic, heavy breathing, sweaty, thigh thumping workout.
As I gain elevation aggressively, the rushing water adjacent to the trail is a refreshing companion. It also masks other sound, so I call out routinely to potentially alert wildlife of my presence. If they know I am approaching, they will leave. No surprises.
The relentless and consistent climb departs from creek-side onto a ridge over terrain which has similar characteristics to a very steep lateral moraine. There is sheltered snow in the valley to my left and fast, white water far beneath me to my right as I rapidly gain heart thumping elevation. Periodically, there is a view of The Wedge above me.
Looking back, views of Wedge Pond begin to appear. The higher I climb, the more of the pond I can see, and the smaller it gets. The view of mountains behind on the west side of Kananaskis Valley is impressive and increasingly expansive. Slow motion IMAX.
I have set my turnaround time as 3:15 PM so I will have time to stop at the Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre on my way home to report the bear sighting and trail conditions on the Hummingbird Plume Lookout hike. Based on that commitment, I am climbing as quickly as I can. The time arrives and it is very difficult for me to abandon the climb. I desperately want to continue, but common sense prevails and I reluctantly turn around to make the, initially very steep descent.
At the dry creek bed, I swing right to follow prevailing, best quality trail, and pop out of the forest very near the parking area. My exit location is a better entry point than the original taken from the shore of Wedge Pond. Look for the firewood sign, at the wide gravel path behind the parking area washrooms for the better trail entrance as shown in the photo below.
Or, nearby, search for these two mushrooms surrounded by strawberry plants.
Just kidding. And yes, they are mushrooms.
Every time I drive west from Calgary, I pass an old farm dwelling, struggling to maintain dignity in the face of Calgary’s fast encroaching real estate development. It seems important, as I approach Calgary on the way home, to stop and capture this image. Perhaps a bit of immortality for memories from the past.
The hikes of this day at Hummingbird Plume Lookout, Wedge Pond and ‘The Wedge’ have covered a wide variety of terrain and endeavor. I will return and dedicate a full day to achieving the scree slope below The Wedge. It will be an excellent workout and a grand view.