Don’t forget, I nominated myself in the Q&A game, so go there and give me your questions.
Ok, since we have had very successful hikes in the last few weekends, we were looking for something a little more challenging, just to see what we could do. The route is actually 3 trails, to make the full 8km loop, that gains 250m/ 820ft in the first 3km to the top of Foran Grade, then drops the 250m in the next 1.5km, then another 50 or so on the Sheep trail on the way back to the car.
I’ll tell you what though, the Sheep Trail scared the shit out of me. There were a few places that had a bit of grass (maybe 6-10 feet) at a 30deg angle, then it was a 250’ drop straight down to the river below. I carried Andrew through this part. At one point I looked at Traci and said, ‘Jeez, one slip to the right and you’re not coming back’. We will take the road next time. Hike Alberta Blogger describes it like this:
This section of the trail involves walking along the precipitous canyon walls of the Sheep River. I would suggest returning on the road in slippery conditions
I can’t imagine being on a horse here… freak me out.
Anyway, back to the rest of the hike. We are getting pretty good at climbing. Just a steady pace, hold hands with the boy on the steeps while he sings us up the ups with various renditions of the ABC’s. The Trail starts on a really nice looking mountain meadow. I have a thing for mountain meadows. I dunno, I just like them.
The wildflowers are if FULL force right now… literally billions of them on this hike. (i brightened this photo up a bit, fyi)
Almost a cliche of a trail…
About an hour in, we crossed over the top of the ridge (not at the top yet by far) and we see our first glimpse of the view we are going to be enjoying for the next 1/2 hour or so.
A bit farther up the trail and it’s almost like we hear that angel music when this comes into view. We are just so lucky. There are some more pictures of this area, mostly from the road below from when we camped in Turner Valley on July 1st weekend.
Can you tell we are in the rocky mountains? This is a blown down trees roots. No soil, just rocks!
When we reached the peak, we were kind of shielded from the really nice view down the valley toward the mountains, but to my surprise, looking back toward the prairies we were able to see Calgary!
Here it is zoomed in to the towers downtown…
So, so far we have heeded the advice of the hiking guide books and bloggers and have not been sorry yet. What I mean is, most hiking guides will tell you the best direction to enjoy the hike to the fullest. Well, this one was no different as the drop back down to the road was a lot steeper than the way we came up. It doesn’t look like much difference, but the steeps were pretty severe at times.
4k in and still enjoying the hike!
This is the official end of the Foran Grade Trail, it now picks up the Windy Ridge Trail back to the highway about a km from here. We stopped a few times on the hike, to eat our snacks. I think Andrew like snacktime the best, but when I asked him tonight what his favourite part was, he simply stated ‘getting to the top of that big mountain’
It’s very lush up there this time of the year and some of the open meadows have grasses as tall as Andrew.
This is looking back up at the ridge we just traversed. You can’t actually see the top from this photo.
Once we crossed the highway, we picked up the Sheep trail. It covers a total of 44kms from one end of the Sheep River Valley to the other and is used as connectors for many of the ‘inland’ hikes. This photo shows how close to the canyon wall the trail was. It was also this point that Andrew ran out of gas. With about 2kms to go on relatively easy trails, I carried the boy. We moved quickly through this portion of the trail, as I was wigged out by the cliffs, but as soon as we exited into some nice meadows we took some frequent breaks. Each time when we got moving again, Andrew would start walking on his own, but after a few steps he would walk out in front of me and ask to be carried. That was fine. He was THAT tired too as he fell asleep in my arms as we finished up the hike. After our final break, we headed up a steep but short hill, and spotted a trail marker. Traci says ‘ How much farther?’. I pointed to the left and said ‘ Not too much father as there is our car!’
So, cheers all around, cross the road to the car and WOOT! we were in the Air conditioned comfort of the Nissan Cube.
We have started a bit of a tradition, in that after our hike, we find somewhere to cool our feet off. Normally it’s a river or creek. We were close to the Sandy McNabb recreation area, so we ended up heading down there. Well, some of you have followed me enough to know that I seem to be around ‘emergencies’ a lot. Today was no different. I’ll let my Facebook postings tell the story.
And just to paint the picture, this is a shot of the river where the incident happened. The river is down a bit since then, but still… yeesh…