We proceeded to hike northward over almost all of the high
points along the ridge. At one point, we stopped for a catnap right
on the crest of the ridge, and I vaguely remember some other hikers
stepping lightly around us. Although I was initially a bit groggy
after waking up, I felt much more refreshed when we got moving again.
The afternoon sun was very hot on this day, and I welcomed the occasional
strong gust of wind which helped to cool us off.
After dropping steeply down the north end of Pocaterra Ridge, we lost the trail in a creek bed and ended up following a flagged beaten path further west of where we should have gone. Of course, I had not planned on hiking this far and did not have the route description from Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide. We muddled through the bush as best as we could and eventually crossed a stream on some awkward boulders before thrashing up a steep embankment to reach the highway. We popped out just west of Little Highwood Pass trailhead.
Faced with a 7-kilometre uphill walk back to Highwood Pass, we tried to thumb a ride while walking along the side of the highway. After walking for less than half a kilometre, a friendly couple from Okotoks hauling kayaks and mountain bikes stopped to give us a lift. They said that they did not normally pick up hitchhikers, but they noticed our hiking poles and figured that they did not have to drive us very far. Dorota and I thanked the generous couple after they dropped us off at Highwood Pass. It was the perfect ending to an enjoyable outing with a most agreeable companion.
|Dorota pauses at a small tarn on the way to Pocaterra Ridge (right).|
|The trail to Pocaterra Ridge is steep.|
|The east face of Mount Pocaterra is an arresting sight.|
|Mount Tyrwhitt is ever present to the south.|
|Dorota and Sonny stand on the highest point of Pocaterra Ridge (2671 metres).|
|To the southeast are Highwood Ridge and Grizzly Ridge.|
|The rest of Pocaterra Ridge stretches away to the northwest.|
|Mount Rae is a sprawling mountain to the northeast.|
|Mount Arethusa sits to the east. Also visible but difficult to discern is Little Arethusa (right of centre).|
|Further to the east is Storm Mountain.|
Dorota is eager to traverse Pocaterra Ridge. The big peak to the right is Elpoca Mountain.
|Dorota approaches the third highest point (2559 metres) along Pocaterra Ridge.|
|Dorota approaches the second highest point (2579 metres) along Pocaterra Ridge.|
|Elbow Lake draws all the attention in this view through the gap of Elbow Pass.|
|Dorota discovers the joys of alpine napping!|
|Here is a look back south from near the north end of Pocaterra Ridge.|
|Dorota begins descending the north end of Pocaterra Ridge. Gap Mountain is straight ahead.|
|Dorota rock-hops across the stream separating the north end of Pocaterra Ridge from the highway.|
Distance: 10.9 kilometres (traverse only); 18.1 kilometres
Total Time: 7 hours 37 minutes (traverse only); 7 hours 54 minutes (complete loop with hitchhike)
Net Elevation Gain: 475 metres (to highest summit)
Net Elevation Loss: 292 metres