With an impending snow storm and cold weather ahead, I decided to take advantage of a warm start to December with a snowshoe up to the Mount Kidd fire lookout and possibly a high point further up the ridge. I decided to call that high point, Mount Kidd Junior in the taste of naming every bump in the Rockies a "junior" of some other peak... :) You can laugh all you want, but I earned this summit.
The day started out quite well. I had Bob's GPS track but after parking closer to the Kananaskis Lodge, it made more sense to start on the cross country ski trails than to walk all the way to Bob's start by the guest housing for k-country staff. Pretty soon after taking the Terrace trail, I came across a signed snowshoe trail on my left. I took this trail as it quickly gained height. The tracks crossed the xcountry ski trail a few times before heading up the east side of the north ridge to the lookout. I knew that Bob's track was further to my right but I like having a track so I kept ascending on it. I think this track was trying to stay near the summer trail but with up to 2 feet of unconsolidated snow, the summer trail was long gone and not helpful.
[From the parking lot behind the Kananaskis Lodge, the north ridge looks easy and straight forward.]
[A glorious morning.]
[The lower trail was obvious and very easy to follow.]
[I followed a well established snowshoe trail part way up the east side of the north ridge.]
[Starting to get a bit bushy but still following a good track...]
[This is where things started getting 'interesting'. Steep, unconsolidated snow and alders. Not a good mix.]
Like all good things, the track ended right when things started getting nasty. I spent the next hour thrashing through alders and thick stands of small spruce trees, trying to find where Bob ascended. I didn't realize that there is no obvious track or road to the lookout - I should have read Bob's trip more carefully.
After a very hard ascent through unconsolidated snow up to 2.5 feet deep and thick, unrelenting trees I FINALLY topped out above tree line at the lookout. I was exhausted and not in a very good mood at this point but the great views helped a little. I decided right away that it was worth continuing to the high point rather than stopping at the lookout. The high point was about 700m further and about 100m of elevation gain more than the lookout but thankfully there was no more bushwhacking at this point.
[Pano from the fire lookout includes Ribbon, Bogart, Wind, Allan, Olympic, Lorette, Baldy, Wasootch, Kananaskis, Old Baldy, McDougall and Volcano Peak. ++]
[Looking towards Mount Kidd and Kidd Junior from the old lookout site.]
[A wider shot looking further along the ridge.]
[Wasootch on the right and Baldy on the left]
[Lorette on the right and "Twin Towers" on the left.]
[A cool view through the hwy 40 "gap" which is the exit from Kananaskis Country.]
[Wind Mountain is another peak of Lougheed that I still have to do.]
[Ribbon Peak is a fond memory.]
[Bogart looks impressive from this angle.]
[Bogart and Wind from Kidd Junior.]
[Olympic Summit (R) and Mount Allan (L) from Kidd Junior]
[Pano from the summit of Kidd Junior, looking over the lookout to the north. ++]
[Fisher Peak always brings back great memories.]
[The lookout is on the north end of the ridge as seen from Kidd Junior.]
After taking in the views and having a well deserved lunch I was kind of ready for the descent. Open slopes to the east beckoned but they were loaded with fresh snow and looked dangerous - I didn't even consider it. The way down was fast and furious. It's much easier bushwhacking downhill. I had a scary moment when I realized I was following cougar tracks and came on a partially eating deer. I quickly got the heck out of there. You should be aware if you're doing this trip solo that there are often cougars in the area around Kananaskis Village.
I can not, in good conscience recommend this trip as a snowshoe destination, now that I know there's a hiking trail up it. I know some of you will try it anyway - don't say you haven't been warned. ;)