Mt. Indefatigable (South Summit)
Hiking the forbidden mountain with a forbidding name. Home of Grizzly sows overwintering on its slopes, pristine alpine meadows with water, springs and mazes of Glacier Lilies in Larch forests. An region of Kananaskis known as the Grizzly’s nursery as cubs born here disperse into other regions of the Rockies. Don’t hurt yourself trying to pronounce this one.
Observe the sign which shows that this mountain is prime Grizzly Bear habitat and is to be avoided, outlining the reasons for decommissioning the office trail years ago. One is left with a choice, to continue along the path and experience one of K Countries greatest hikes or pay your respect the mountains denizens and keep your hollering and wanderings to another place.
After contemplation, our choice was made and we embarked on the forbidden journey with a bear holler that seems paradoxical.
Our trail departs the shores of Upper Kananaskis Lake at the trail’s Grizzly sign with small boulders. It winds through mossy spruce forest before arriving at a pale rock ridge (SSE ridge of the mountain). As the ridge continues questions arise as to wether this is the proper trail or not. Soon it becomes clear and the trail climbs as the views unroll behind you. A blue and green carpet of Kananaskis. The lakes below, fossil falls plunging to the SW and the Elk Valley echoing south into BC.
The climb continues to a junction with a nice look out off trail on the right over Lower Kananaskis Lake, the Kananaskis Valley and the Opals. Turn left and head upwards to the south summit or continue straight for the alpine meadows, tarns and outliers. We turn left to the South Summit and find ourselves quickly immersed in a maze of larches, alpines and glacier lilies.
It is here that I start to feel as though I am intruding in a place better left for the bears and how annoying we must be, hollering and wandering, as they try to raise their cubs and meet their own challenges.
Views percolate through the foliage as we arrive at tree line. The tarn to the north and its cirque reflect an essence of wildness that embodies the spirit of this place. Such a presence Kananaskis has. Rain blows in and the cold refreshing air of the mountains feels electrifying and rouses motivation as we ascend past 2500m towards the summit. A touch of route finding below a small gully finds a trail at far left that leads along the ridge to the summit.
A radio transceiver sits atop the summit as we soak in the view and eat. The lakes rest as lapis lazuli among the limestone walls of the mountains. The snowfields of Aster Lake across the valley feel like winter while the countless green valleys are full of summer. The silence of the peaks as the atmosphere softens and blurs with the low clouds. After, we descend.
We seen no bears, or fresh bear sign on this trip although the group we ran into on the decent mentioned a mother with three cubs was spotted in the bottom stretch from the ridge to the lake. As we approach the Upper Lake’s pathway in the forest, a Coyote stands ahead of us in silence on the trail. It walks off, disappearing into the green. We reach the Upper Lakes trail and turn right for a short walk to a beach to finish the hike in full sun.