Hiking the trail from Wedge Pond to ridge top on the Wedge in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
This sequel documents the complete hike of 'The Wedge' separated into three phases. About a month ago, the plan to hike 'The Wedge' was compromised by the unplanned morning hike to Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout.
First Phase - Wedge Pond to the Scree Slope at the base of 'The Wedge'.
Entry is achieved the efficient way from near the parking area. A lot of dead fall has been placed over the trail to discourage its use. There is a lot of water running and major portions of trail at the beginning cannot be used so hiking off trail around the obstructions is frequently required. The forest is absolutely beautiful and very aromatic. Soon elevation is gained above the fast flowing creek as the trail exponentially steepens.
Looking up at the Wedge across from the very full Wedge Pond. The Wedge is higher than the bluff at photo right. The Wedge is much farther away which creates this optical illusion where the bluff appears higher.
The trail, at the beginning, has become a creek with overflowing channels of fast running water.
There is a trail alternative to the left, just above where the previous hike ended. This hike continues to the right on the more prominent trail.
Mount Kidd is always prominent on the west side of Kananaskis Valley. Distance can be gauged by the size of Wedge Pond. Notice that Wedge Pond is very full and larger than a month previous. There is no beach around the edge.
Middle Phase: Arrival at the Scree Slope below the base of 'The Wedge'
Approaching the Wedge, there are three scramblers, tiny specks, methodically making their way along the ridge to the summit. It is satisfying to relax and enjoy lunch in intermittent sun moderated by a gentle breeze at the scree base. As the scramblers above approach the summit, a short hike along the ridge to the base of the peak allows some shallow scrambling on the mountain. I am not properly equipped, so activity is limited to easy components with a bit of moderate for a gain of about 50 m (165 ft). It feels good to have hands on the rock. As I leave, my anonymous compatriots are carefully working their way back down the ridge. A 360 degree video is taken plus photos from my lunch location before heading back down.
The long lens view directly below is across the north ridge of Mount Kidd where the old fire lookout foundations are located on the north ridge. Behind, on photo left, is the summit of Mount Allan. On photo right is the summit of Mount Collembola.
On descent, the climbers are about half way down the ridge. Less than half way down the mountain, the three young men pass and there is an opportunity to congratulate them on their achievement. As they continue ahead at a more aggressive pace, an image is captured on a step below.
Final Phase: The Steep Descent from 'The Wedge' to Wedge Pond.
Partway down, there is a trail branch to the right. Hmmm! Is it possible this is the other end of the trail branch to the left encountered on the way up? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. On speculation, the less, if at all, traveled route is taken. The alternative branch is far more rustic and requires fighting through overgrown forest and dead fall. After a brutal descent through dense forest, the alternative branch pops out onto the main trail again. This alternative route is entirely in dense forest without views. There are a couple of interesting rock outcropping features along the way but the recommendation is for staying on the main trail.
Back at the lower trail, water flow is about the same and off trail is required.
The fresh bear poop on the trail, encountered on the way in, is still there. It is the only evidence of bear activity seen all day. Exercising bear awareness practice when hiking in the forest is important, particularly when hiking solo. It is an unusual treat to enjoy a bear sighting.
The hike to the base of the Wedge from Wedge Pond is 3.9 KM (2½ miles) with an elevation gain of 899 m (2,950 ft) to a maximum elevation of about 2,438 m (8,000 ft). There is minimal undulation in the trail which is relentlessly steep with occasional relief, so net and gross elevation gain on the way up are nearly the same.
This is not a season opener and any hiker would benefit from some experience and a good pair of ankle high hiking boots. To go above the scree slope is a scramble requiring appropriate gear and skill set. It is not a first scramble.
For well equipped and experienced scramblers, the summit of the Wedge peaks at 1,100 m( 8,743 ft). An excellent reference would be the definitive guide for the area, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies by Alan Kane. The Wedge scramble is rated as a moderate scramble with a short difficult spot on the ridge. Anyone who does not know precisely what that means may be wise to avoid the scramble.