Distance: 13 km
Elevation gain: 945 m Route map
With a dusting of snow overnight and a generally blah forecast, there weren't a whole lot of options for a hike today. There did seem to be an odd weather window west of Calgary, however, so I decided a long overdue trip up the northern outlier of Mount Glasgow was in order, despite my trepidation the general area could be overrun with thousands of "hikers". Alison decided to join us and we met at the trailhead at 8:30 am after confirming an hour earlier that the overnight rain had indeed stopped as forecast.
While it was sunny over south Calgary when we set out, a dense wall of cloud and fog blanketed the mountains as we drove west. As we made our way past Elbow Falls – already a zoo at 8:20 am – the fog was discouragingly at its thickest and near ground level, but by some weather miracle the fog and low cloud was nearly non-existent just a few kilometers further west where our hike would start. It's not often the weather cooperates like this so I was in a pretty good mood as we set out!
After maneuvering around the early morning crowds we crossed the suspension bridge over the Elbow River and immediately turned onto a trail heading upstream. This trail wasn't exactly linear, but it did lead us right to the base of the ascent ridge, which we started up immediately after an easy crossing of Glasgow Creek.
A multitude of trails in the forest of varying ages and origins made it difficult to stay on track and we ended up doing a little light bushwhacking before we found a good and obvious trail heading up the crest of the ridge. The trail was in much better shape than I had expected and virtually eliminated bushwhacking and routefinding, but the 100% humidity absolutely drenched me, fogged my glasses up, and slowly morphed my early enthusiasm into barely contained grumpiness. Gratefully an intermittent light breeze above treeline slowly dried the sweat from me as we continued up the stable scree and rubble, and very respectable views up the Nihahi Creek valley lifted my spirits from their humid depths.
As we hiked higher up the ridge a series of small bumps required some easy scrambling to descend, but none were particularly exposed. It's worth noting that detouring around them would not be practical – the easiest route is directly along the crest of the ridge – and that they all look worse in photos than they actually are. Alison had some fun scrambling where the opportunity presented itself, including on some pinnacles on what I guess could be called the first false summit, and took a few more engaging lines in other areas than did Sandra and I.
We reached the summit with fewer difficulties and in much nicer weather than I'd anticipated, and while it was a bit breezy, we found shelter just behind the highpoint of the ridge and were able to have a nice lunch break. The view was also better than expected, particularly from a short distance further north along the ridge.
On our descent we passed a family with three younger kids coming up the scrambly bits, then met a solo hiker on the first false summit. With thousands of people based out of the same parking area, that's quite acceptable to me. The only other noteworthy point on the descent was the lower section of ridge. Similar to our ascent, we got tangled up with the mess of trails in the area, and while we avoided bushwhacking for the most part, this short section is certainly a bit confusing.
It was a great way to spend a Saturday, and for a day with a terrible forecast and a wall of fog near the start, it turned out quite marvelously!