Forgetmenot Mountain

Ever since I hiked up to the high point of Forgetmenot Ridge (Old Forgetmenot) in 2009, I have always felt some regret at not pushing further south to Forgetmenot Mountain which is nevertheless a separate, officially-named summit.  Like myself, Bob Parr and Zosia Zgolak had also previously only made it as far as Old Forgetmenot, and on 2 November 2019, we all headed back to the Little Elbow area of Alberta's Kananaskis Country for some unfinished business on Forgetmenot Mountain.  Following the route description from Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, we started hiking from Little Elbow Recreation Area parking lot and headed west to the Harold Chapman suspension bridge before crossing to the south side of Little Elbow River.  The maze of trails here is confusing, but we essentially worked our way eastward to the vast gravel flats of Big Elbow River.  On this day, there was absolutely no water flowing on the surface of the flats, and we easily walked to the east bank where we picked up Wildhorse trail (orange markers) heading into the trees.  About 650 metres east of the Big Elbow River crossing, we turned onto a side trail marked with a big cairn and began climbing in earnest up the north end of Forgetmenot Ridge.
Who's Harold Chapman? Bob and Zosia walk across the Harold Chapman suspension bridge.
Looks like it's gonna be a beautiful day! Morning sunlight shines on Mount Glasgow above Little Elbow River.
You can even spot the crux on Mount Remus! Mount Romulus and Mount Remus glow in the morning light.
Where's the water? Bob and Zosia cross the dry flats of Big Elbow River.
The climb up the north end of Forgetmenot Ridge is quite steep, but the trail is well-defined and easy to follow at least up to tree line.  As Bob, Zosia and I approached the ridge crest, we encountered more snow covering the trail, and we eventually just abandoned it in favour of climbing straight up the slope.  Once we gained the ridge crest, we enjoyed some easy walking before arriving at a slight dip and a prominent bluff.  Steep, snow-covered slopes here made tackling the bluff a bit more challenging, but we managed to surmount this obstacle without any slips.  Much of the remainder of the ridge was covered in snow on this day, and while there were some wind-blown sections that were supportive, we were often trudging through wearisome ankle-deep powder.  Occasionally, we would also punch through the wind crust to find ourselves in a surprisingly deep pocket of snow, or worse, we would bang our shins against hidden rocks at the same time.  Nevertheless, we still easily reached the top of Old Forgetmenot after a bit of a plod, but we did not linger for long before turning our attention to the real objective of the day--Forgetmenot Mountain.
Steep climb! As Bob and Zosia climb high above the valley, views of Powder Face Ridge open up to the north.
Poor tree! Zosia and Bob check out a rock-laden tree beside the trail.

So many familiar peaks!

Bob and Zosia gain an open windswept ridge with views of Mount Romulus, Mount Remus, Fisher Peak, Mount Fullerton, Mount Howard and Nihahi Ridge.


Just go up. The snow-covered trail becomes harder to follow further along the ridge.

Still a long ways to go though...

Despite the lack of a trail, the route to the top of Forgetmenot Ridge (Old Forgetmenot) is obvious.


The snow complicates route-finding here somewhat. Bob and Zosia approach a prominent bluff along the ridge.
Steeper than it looks! Zosia and Bob scramble up the bluff.
Do we really have to go over there? Bob stands on the high point of Old Forgetmenot (~2328 metres) with Forgetmenot Mountain visible in the distance.
It can be a little disheartening to know that, from the top of Old Forgetmenot, the summit of Forgetmenot Mountain is still three kilometres away and getting there entails losing and then re-gaining about 140 metres of hard-won elevation.  Given that the summit of Forgetmenot Mountain is also slightly lower than Old Forgetmenot, it is easy to understand why most hikers--our past selves included--probably do not bother with the extension.  That being said, Bob, Zosia and I had plenty of gas left in the tank as we began descending into the big dip along the connecting ridge between the two summits.  Partway down the big dip, we stopped for about twenty-five minutes to eat lunch before continuing along the ridge.  Much like the plod to the top of Old Forgetmenot, the final approach to the summit of Forgetmenot Mountain is a long and gentle climb, and including the lunch break, it took us about an hour and forty-five minutes to traverse between the two summits.  We also went a little further east to tag a subsidiary bump before returning to Forgetmenot Mountain's summit to snap a few requisite photos.  Facing the prospect of a lengthy hike back to the trailhead, we were on the move again as soon as the last summit photo was taken.

Feels like a lifetime ago when I traversed all those peaks.

Here is the view of Banded Peak, Outlaw Peak, Mount Cornwall and Mount Glasgow from near the top of Old Forgetmenot.


A rather annoying loss in elevation! Zosia drops down a big dip along the connecting ridge to Forgetmenot Mountain.
Feels like we're a long way from the trailhead... Bob and Zosia pause briefly after climbing out of the big dip.  Behind them is Old Forgetmenot.
The snow is not deep but is nevertheless tiresome to walk through. Bob and Zosia march along the broad west ridge of Forgetmenot Mountain.
Just to make sure this point wasn't higher! Zosia joins Bob on a subsidiary bump to the east of Forgetmenot Mountain's summit.
We made it. Now we've got a long walk home...  Sonny, Zosia and Bob stand on the summit of Forgetmenot Mountain (2323 metres).
For our return journey, Bob, Zosia and I essentially retraced our steps all the way back across Old Forgetmenot and down the north end of Forgetmenot Ridge.  Dropping again into the big dip and climbing over Old Forgetmenot was certainly soul-sucking, and descending the prominent bluff along the ridge required some care due to the slippery footing.  Worst of all was the relentless wind which had been our constant companion throughout the day but was now more like a really annoying work colleague who just won't shut up!  We felt some relief when we finally regained the trail and descended into the shelter of the forest lower down.  Darkness was upon us by the time we re-crossed the gravel flats of Big Elbow River, and we had some difficulty navigating the maze of trails south of the suspension bridge.  With the help of my GPS device, we were able to get back on track and eventually made it back to the parking lot without having to use our headlamps.  We later capped off a very long but rewarding day with a celebratory dinner at PowderHorn Saloon in Bragg Creek.  A big thank you goes out to Bob for picking up the dinner tab!

And getting hammered by the wind most of the way!

Bob and Zosia begin the long trek back to the trailhead.


A bloody long one! Total Distance:  22.6 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  10 hours 53 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  ~1100 metres

GPX Data