Distance: 25 km
Elevation gain: 1090 m View map Download GPS track
After four weekends in a row of wet and snowy mountain weather, often with periods of weekday sun in between, a sunny weekend day finally appeared today! I certainly wasn’t going to waste it, but I also wasn’t going to jinx it by heading too far west and finding cloud like I did last weekend. That meant something in the front country that could fill most of the day, and after a bit of thought I decided to return to Forgetmenot Ridge. I’d been there in 2010
, but had stopped short of the highpoint to photograph pikas. This time I wasn’t going to let them distract me and would head to the summit of Forgetmenot Mountain at the southern end of the long ridge.
I got an early start and was hiking just before sunrise. After crossing the Little Elbow River I headed towards the north end of Forgetmenot Ridge, hiking on trail until the Big Elbow trail and then along the vegetated river flats until I reached the Elbow River. At this point there was no water flowing on the surface and I easily picked up the trail on the other side of the river flats. A short time later, just after crossing a minor washout on the trail, I started up the Forgetmenot Ridge trail. I was hiking solo today and with a cool breeze to keep the sweat at bay I was able to make short work of the steep ascent, arriving atop the ridge just over 90 minutes after starting out.
I put on a jacket and gloves at this point as there was a bit of a breeze, then continued south along the ridge. After a short ascent midway along the ridge I turned to see two coyotes – one black and one grey – trotting along where I’d come from. I’ve never seen a black coyote before, but its gait and bushy tail were characteristic of a coyote and not a wolf. Regardless, they soon disappeared as I approached the summit of the ridge, also known as Old Forgetmenot. Here the grass gave way to jumbled rocks populated by dozens of pikas. I watched them for a few minutes, but continued on before I got suckered into trying to photograph them.
The traverse towards Forgetmenot Mountain involved losing 140 m of elevation and then regaining nearly all of it, but both the descent and ascent were dead easy and the grade was very gentle. I arrived on the summit at 11 am, and as I ate my lunch pondered how to get back to the trailhead. My two options were to retrace my steps or drop off the ridge to the southwest, intersect the Threepoint Creek trail, follow it west to the Threepoint Mountain trail, then follow that trail out to the Elbow River and the Big Elbow trail. While hiking back along the ridge would certainly have been the more scenic choice, I opted instead for the exploratory option and after lunch started down the southwest ridge.
This plan worked perfectly. The bushwhack from the summit to the Threepoint Creek trail was mostly easy, the Threepoint Creek trail was in good shape and rarely used, muddy sections on the more heavily used Threepoint Mountain trail all had good detours, and crossing the Elbow River (which was actually flowing here) was dead easy. A fast walk back along the Big Elbow trail then brought me to the Little Elbow River. The water had been so refreshing on my earlier required ford that I decided to ford this one as well, even though there was a bridge just upstream. This earned me a few odd stares, but it was as refreshing as I thought, and a short walk later I was back at the truck and on my way home.