Forget-Me-Not Mountain is a short, steep hike to an excellent ridge walk in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
Forget-Me-Not Mountain is a small, often easily accessible mountain in Kananaskis Country, topping out at 2,338 m (7,671 feet). There are excellent views to mountain ranges in the north, south and west, and foothills to the east. Calgary’s skyline is visible on a clear day.
Ridge rock formations include unique, tiny limestone sculptures created by centuries of weather erosion on this thoroughly enjoyable mountain which can be accomplished with reasonable effort in just a few hours. Round trip distance is about 12 KM (7½ miles).
Following a very pleasant breakfast at the Saskatoon Berry Farm, the drive west on Hwy 22X and Elbow Valley Trail (Hwy 66) past Bragg Creek leads to trail-head parking near the pink bridge across the Little Elbow River.
One of the concerns is the ability to cross the Elbow River. Spring runoff this year has been huge and later than normal.
From the pink bridge the trail turns left and tracks the Little Elbow River towards Forget-Me-Not Ridge. Unbelievably, there is not a drop of water in the Elbow River
Crossing the stony riverbed and changing from sandals to boots begins the hike along Wild Horse Trail at the bottom of the mountain, followed by a steep climb on rustic trail to the top of Forget-Me-Not Ridge. Although the hike begins in sun, there is heavy cloud building quickly nearby.
The hike along the ridge swings around a deep canyon to climb the scree slope leading to the first summit as powerful weather is forming up nearby. It is never a good idea to stand on a summit with a lightning storm in close proximity.
While standing in sunlight and a light breeze, there is a grand light show and thunderstorm over Nihahi Ridge to the south and another storm forming up over adjacent mountains to the west. The strange and interesting environment encourages mental preparation to retreat from the top of the mountain at high speed, if necessary.
Weather intensity and direction is changing dynamically. The scenery is incredibly beautiful but the potential for weather to quickly turn ugly and dangerous requires continuous monitoring.
Photos are taken at the first summit. At the midpoint of the U-shaped mountain-top lunch is enjoyed at the big rocks with shelter from the breeze.
Continuing another kilometer around the U-shaped mountain top achieves the second and true summit, which is 9 feet higher than the first, before heading back on a similar route.
About a kilometer (⅝ miles) from the ridge access, a light rain begins which, in the breeze, is just a bit cooler than refreshing. Just before reaching the ridge and the protection of the first small forest, rain turns to corn snow as the temperature drops abruptly.
A few minutes later, exiting the forest leads onto a kilometer of open, rocky ridge. The hail begins and this motivates quick descent to the cover of the tree line as pea-sized hail stings on exposed skin. The hail storm stops on entry to the protection of the forest. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?
The steep descent is tenuous on wet rock and roots but safe arrival at the parking area is achieved without injuries. A quick drive back to Calgary finds a fabulous chicken dinner ready to be served.
Tomorrow, the plan is to summit Cascade Mountain above the the Town of Banff which has the potential to be a long, tough day with spectacular rewards.