Distance: 14.5 km
Elevation gain: 780 mView mapDownload GPS track
After an exhausting day
that included two summits, wild winds, and some knee issues we were looking for something a bit on the easy side. Taking it easy at home might sound like a reasonable thing to do under such circumstances, but the sheer boredom of doing so while fresh air and adventure beckoned and turkey and saskatoon berry pie calories required burning quickly eliminated that option. After a bit of indecision about where to go we finally decided to hike up Mount Ware in the Sheep River area, hoping to enjoy the spectacular fall colors in that area I'd been hearing about.
Our adventure started shortly after entering Kananaskis Country along highway 546. While the technology of modern road construction and paving has been perfected over the past 100 years or so, that knowledge seems to have eluded those responsible for this highway, leaving it a potholed obstacle course. The Gorge Creek road wasn't much better, but at least it has the excuse of being a dirt road. If you survive the roads, the trail begins in the Gorge Creek parking area at the end of the Gorge Creek road.
We followed the route up Mount Ware that is described in the Copeland's "Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies
" trail guide, which also appears to be the most direct route. Their description is particularly useful for finding where to exit the Gorge Creek trail, but as they note, the exact ascent route from that point forward is largely up to you. We also found the hike statistics to be quite different than those in the guide with my GPS giving a total distance of 14.5 km (instead of 17.4) and 780 m of elevation gain (instead of 533).
Unfortunately, we weren't particularly impressed by this hike. I was under the impression that much of the trail along Gorge Creek was through aspen forest and hence would be brilliantly yellow this time of year, but the very few aspens in this area had already shed their leaves. The trail is also churned to mud by horses in several spots, and it frustratingly goes up and down many small hills. By the time we actually started the ascent of Mount Ware my GPS indicated we'd already ascended nearly 200 m and lost nearly 150 m! After over 1400 m of elevation gain the day before, we sure felt this!
On the plus side, the views from the summit are nice and would be even nicer later in the year when bigger objectives are snowed in. Many other Sheep River area hikes are visible from the summit too, so the view is useful in helping to plot more adventures. An interesting loop is described on the Daffern's website
that takes in Surveyor Ridge and Volcano Ridge, but with the work week looming and leftover tiredness of the previous day we decided to leave this option for another time.