Carry | John Ware | Muley | Forked Ridge

Summit Elevations (m): 1540 (Carry), 1581 (John Ware), 1576 (Muley), 1657 (Forked)
Trip Date: Saturday, May 23, 2020
Elevation Gain – (m): 800
Round Trip Time (hrs): 6.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 20 
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your ego.
Difficulty Notes: No real difficulties other than route finding over and through ridges and valleys with no trails in the valleys. NOTE: The summit of John Ware Ridge is PRIVATE LAND and is marked with No Trespassing signs. 
Technical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps

Thanks to a very stubborn spring snow pack and a stubborn pandemic, I have been on a tear of front range “whack-a-mole” (a Dave Salahub term) peakbagging as of late. The weekend of May 23 / 24 only escalated the frenzy. Saturday was forecast to be cloudy with a chance of rain so naturally I chose a 3 or 4 peak front range set of ridges to hike with the family. No sense sitting at home when there’s new peaks to be bagged fairly close by! The reason I say “3 or 4” is that I wasn’t sure we’d be in the mood for Forked Ridge after the other 3. I also wasn’t 100% convinced that John Ware would be a viable option as I was 99.99% sure it was on private land and as a rule I don’t trespass on purpose.

Carry, John Ware, Muley & Forked Ridge Route Map. Please note that the John Ware Ridge summit is private land and you should have permission to hike it before going.

We started our day under a very gray and ominous looking sky from the Kananaskis sign along hwy 546. The short drive from my house in SW Calgary was sure a nice change from all my recent journeys to the Crowsnest Pass area! I started us off on a good note, getting lost along a creek running between Muley and Carry Ridge before realizing my error and head east to gain the N-S ridge of Carry Ridge. There are a ton of trails in the area so be aware of that. It’s also a bit confusing at the start since you’re not ascending Carry Ridge from the highway but cutting across the east end of an outlier of Muley Ridge (see map above). Just follow trails to the right until you’re on Carry Ridge – you shouldn’t cross any fences here as it’s all PLUZ at this point.

Once we started up Carry Ridge the hiking was very pleasant. Wildflowers are coming out finally and I spent some time with my macro lens while KC and Hanneke hiked ahead of me a bit. Hiking along the crest of Carry Ridge was one of the highlights of the day as there’s a very defined trail here. Views were muted but the weather was very pleasant otherwise.

Dew encrusted Pasqueflowers.

As we passed Muley Ridge on our left and continued along Carry I wondered if we’d have the willpower for Forked Ridge later in the day. That was “future Vern’s” problem so I didn’t dwell on that thought. We started our descend NE towards a very distant looking John Ware Ridge shortly after the summit of Carry Ridge. 

Hiking the pleasant N-S ridge on Carry.
Hiking the pleasant N-S ridge on Carry with Muley at left and Forked Ridge at distant center.

The least pleasant hiking of the day was the detour from Carry Ridge to John Ware Ridge and then back to Carry. Most of the unpleasantness was the recent rainfall which made everything soaked and even had a tributary of Ware Creek running full tilt between Carry and John Ware – we had to cross this sucker twice obviously. Another not-so-pleasant aspect of John Ware is that the actual summit of the ridge is outside of the PLUZ and is on private land. As a rule I don’t like trespassing and I don’t set out to do it. You should obtain permission from the landowner before setting your sights on this summit or don’t bother with it. I didn’t know it was off limits or I wouldn’t have bothered trying without permission. We descended fairly steep forest from Carry to the valley far below. Crossing the stream wasn’t horrid but there were wet lands on either sides that soaked our feet.

This feeder stream to Ware Creek normally isn’t flowing.

Another little surprise on John Ware is that we ascended an intermediate bump along the way – not a huge deal but was unexpected. It was only after this bump that we started running into fence lines and empty signs that very likely read “No Trespassing” before they faded. Just before the summit of John Ware we ran into very clear “No Trespassing” signs.

On route to John Ware Ridge you have to cross an intermediate ridge / hill. The north ends of Carry Ridge and Forked Ridge at left here.
The summit bump on John Ware is just ahead.
Hiking along the crest of John Ware Ridge. Forked Ridge at right.

We quickly descended from John Ware back to the north end of Carry Ridge, crossing the wetlands and the stream again and ascending a good trail back to the summit of Carry. We got to enjoy chicken salad with freshly whittled utensils thanks to someone (Kaycie cough cough) forgetting her whole backpack at home! Just before the summit of Carry we followed a track heading off towards the Muley col which worked out perfectly. 

Hiking down John Ware Ridge towards Carry and Forked Ridge. Muley is sort of hidden between Carry and Forked at left.

We barely registered the summit of Muley which encouraged us to keep going to Forked Ridge. The day was still young and the weather wasn’t horrid so why not? We ran into a strange pen made of sticks, wire and rope along the traverse. A sign warned us that we were being surveiled so we didn’t linger but I wonder what that was all about? It looked like a guy line could be used to rig a tarp over the contraption but I’m not sure if it was built for humans or animals. Strange things happen in the woods! We ascended a trail up the east side of Forked Ridge before joining a very muted trail to the summit of Forked Ridge. I’d heard from Wietse that the highest point on Forked Ridge was about 1km north of the other candidate so we didn’t linger on the first high point but kept walking to the northerly one. Views were very muted the entire way to the northerly high point. After getting home my GPS marked the southerly bump at 1m higher so it’s up to you where you think the “summit” is.

The descent back to hwy 546 was easy and fairly quick. I was surprised by the amount of blow down over the trail but it didn’t pose too big a problem as we simply detoured down around it where we had to. Views from the south end of the ridge were better than from the summit and included the McNabb Hills, Okotoks Mountain, Wolf Creek Hills and Channel Ridge. We ended our day with a short walk back to the truck along hwy 546.

A gnarled tree along our exit to hwy 546 along Forked Ridge.
Hiking south down Forked Ridge to hwy 546. Sandy McNabb Hills and Okotoks Mountain visible.

Honestly this set of 4 “summits” was a nice day out (better than sitting on the couch) but it certainly wasn’t a highlight of the year or anything. There were a bunch of wildflowers on Carry’s south ridge if you’re into that but otherwise don’t expect too much from this hike other than fresh air and exercise – never a bad thing.

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