Old Baldy (Kananaskis/Evan Thomas)

Old Baldy

Late June 2016

Oh how the flood has trashed K Country, or perhaps it has restored solace to lands once busy with visitors?  Old Baldy, once a classic backcountry sojourn on a great trail to subalpine lake below a wide arching ridge, now a debris pilled bush thrash along the access creek with a horrific descent westward towards Boundary Ranch.

Don’t do this route, a much better option is to ascend/descend along the SW ridge of Mt. McDougall (NW2) to dodge the flood debris of the valleys. Comments on this one would be great, see Daffern’s K Country Trail Guide Volume 1 for route details.

Upon departing the car it was easy walking along a wide path beside Evan Thomas Creek.  Looking for the left hand trail we ended up turning left onto a horse trail which we followed for a few hundred meters before returning to the Evan Thomas Trail to find the true trail junction a few meters down the path.  Nicely flagged.

The flagging continued through the flood debris up the creek for what seemed like hours.  The narrow path along the stream bank just before the waterfall junction has been destroyed by the flood and a sketchy route over loose conglomerate is the only option above the stream on the west bank.   No water was flowing over the falls at the fork, we continued left into the upper fork and were greeted by a smooth path and small hills next to a babbling brook.

The next section has everything we love about K Country.  Views which unfurl with each step as we entered an amphitheatre of peaks amoung Mt. McDougall.  We crossed tundra and approached the tarn which was absurdly low given that its late June!

We ascend northward through a maze of meadows, avalanche debris and krummenholtz before gaining at the ridge where the sandstone and limestone come together.  Resting, the view satiates our soul as we eat a handful of pecans and a few tiny biscuits, no sandwich.  Feeling like Froto and Sam, as we underestimated our food rations and had a long way to go to get back to the shire, we stride westward along the ridge at 2500 m.

This is where we should have returned via McDougals NW2’s S and SW ridges, we however descent just after our ridge turns NW.  On the steep grass we loose focus and find ourselves bush crashing and talus hopping down steep terrain to gain the descent drainage…which is hopelessly destroyed by the flood and should not see humans in search of enjoyment any time soon (30 years at least!).  We did come across an elk shed high on the ridge as we descended before the trees.

At the bottom we end up among Teepee skeletons then onto a random horse trail in a maze of trails tied to the boundary ranch.  After startling a group of bison in a paddock we wind along a trail leading to the Restaurant, very tempting.

Then the long walk along HWY 40 back to Evan Thomas trailhead parking.  As difficult as the day was, we’re starting to feel that a hike isn’t complete without some bushwhacking an a few cruxes with navigation.

An amazing hike, but perhaps it’s not worth the effort for some.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A Canadian Toad!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mt. Kidd and flood damage of Evan Thomas Creek
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Horse Trail (Wrong Trail)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The right trail!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Eroded stream bank before the waterfall forks
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Eroded Stream Bank
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A boulder as we ascend the fork leading to the tarn
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
a brook leads from acirque with a tarn
Old Baldy12
We emerge into the open
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Enroute to the tarn up the left fork
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Talus slopes
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Views open as we approach
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Entering the meadow before the tarn
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tarn in June
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Views east across the valley
Old Baldy18
Kaptain Kananaskis as we ascend from the tarn to the ridge
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
meadows and slopes of the ascent to the ridge, looking south
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the gully we ascended (we entered the trees on the left at the base of the rockfall ahead)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Wild Thistle
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Across valley, a summit on the SW ridge of Mt. McDougall
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We emerge from the gully into a meadows that lead to the ridgetop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tundra
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tundra
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tundra
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Valerian
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
?
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Approaching the ridgecrest
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Views North from the ridgecrest
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ridgecrest of Old Baldy looking west
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sir Joe atop the ridge looking west
Old Baldy45
Views across valley westward to Mt. Kidd
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Panorama of Old Baldy SW
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Panorama East
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Alpine meadows on the slopes of Mt. McDougall
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sir Joe
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Pano of Old Baldy
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Old Baldy Ridge
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Views over the ridges to the prairies
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The ridge turns NW and we follow
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Looking back along the ridge
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The NW ridge, spectacular
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Elk shed high up on the ridge
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Elk Shed (notice the chewed spot to the left of my head
Old Baldy46
Descending, perplexed
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Talus
Old Baldy58
Descending steep talus
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Kananaskis in early summer
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our descent route towards boundary ranch, do not do!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Teepee skeletons
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Bison Paddock
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our descent route, the proper route follows the gully at middle right, following the valley to the left.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The end of our hike, along the road at Evan Thomas Parking

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.14.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.13.45 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.14.13 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s