Monday, October 8, 2007

Yamnuska - September 15, 2007

Yamnuska Mountain (also known as John Laurie Mountain) - Take the Trans-Canada west from Calgary until the 1X turnoff to the 1A (towards Exshaw). Look to the left of the road for a turnoff to the Yamnuska trailhead.

There are few hikes as exhilarating as Yamnuska. The mountain is visible from the Trans-Canada highway as you enter the Rockies from the east and is one of the most recognizable mountains in the area. It's a fantastic hike because as you climb to the rockface, you can look eastward onto the foothills and see for kilometers. It also gives an excellent view of the Bow Valley to the immediate south. As you climb higher, there are also dramatic views of the Rockies to the north and west.

The next time you drive down the TCH, you will never look at the mountain the same way.

Yamnuska is a popular hike for both hikers and climbers, so arrive early!

I had hiked Yamnuska once before -- October of 2004 -- and that day out we weren't so lucky. The hike up was great... but the higher we got, the faster the clouds moving in from the west closed on us. The hike down was completed in record time through the first snowstorm of the season. Not well planned, but fun. The beer afterward tastes that much better.

The weather forecast looked much more promising this time out:

Most of the hike is up the east side of Yamnuska and approaches the rockface from the side. There is also a more direct hike up for the climbers, but for us hikers, the hikers' route is more fun, though certainly not an easy hike.

And it doesn't take long to get to the first of many great views. From this angle, the lake even has a heart-shape:

Looking west. Mid-September the leaves were just starting to turn:

As you get closer to the top, you're rewarded with a great view of the north side of the mountain -- the side of Yamnuska you don't get to see from the highway:

Once you arrive at the rockface at the top, there are a number of different things to do. The trail leads both to the southside of the mountain along the rockface and to a scree slope, as well as north behind the mountain. With a little scrambling and climbing that trail can take you to the top of Yamnuska.

But first, D and I decided to have a snack and enjoy the view:

Then we worked around to the south side of the mountain (yes, there's a trail there. Really):

The view just gets better as you wind along the southside:

And finally, view from the trailhead (a very FULL parking lot), about 4 hours later as we finished our hike. Amazing mountain, amazing hike: