Hiking Kananaskis – Pocaterra Cirque

 
Saturday we headed back out to Highwood Pass, hoping that a few more cold nights triggered the larches to turn yellow; for Mr. GeoK, this was the third trip in 9 days, as he was determined to get some excellent fall photos this year…
 
We were in luck!! As we drove past the turn off to the Kananaskis Lakes we knew we’d timed it right; mountainsides that were still verdant green on Wednesday displayed large patches of yellow, with occasional splotches of orange and red.
 
The Highwood Pass parking lot was reasonably busy when we pulled in about 10:30. We were a little later than usual, since a couple of us slept in a bit past 7 o’clock and we had to make a few stops along the way (including two stops to place new geocaches in our TransCanada series). Even so, we had no trouble finding a parking spot.

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We passed one couple early in the hike – at the boggy section past the first meadow, which had dried out considerably since Mr. GeoKs’ visit just over a week ago. Otherwise, we enjoyed peace and quiet on our way up, stopping numerous times to take photographs, enjoy the scenic views and throw a few rocks at the tarn. We debated stopping here for lunch, but decided to push on through the upper meadow to the Cirque. This meadow is Mrs. GeoKs’ favourite spot in the whole world…standing in the meadow you can’t even hear the traffic noise from Highway 40 and it’s an ideal spot for some quiet introspection or to simply enjoy nature at its best!!
 
We climbed the giant boulder at the edge of the meadow (we suspect this rock was formerly a piece of Mount Tyrwhitt) to enjoy the fall colour and our picnic lunch. This was such a special spot that we ended up hiding another geocache, which brings our total hides in the Highwood Pass / Pocaterra Ridge area to seven! So far, only 3 have been found, as not many geocachers venture up this way.

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We were back at the parking area by 2 o’clock, after passing at least 6 or 8 groups making their way up into the valley. The parking lot was absolutely overflowing!! Vehicles were double parked, parked along the short drive in from the highway and even on the shoulder of the highway. We’ve never seen it so busy.
 
Even so, we made good time back to Calgary, stopping in Bowness at Bow Cycle to reclaim our GoBike which we took in so they could upgrade the major components. Although we hiked only a little over 6 km, with a total elevation gain of less than 200 meters, it’s safe to say we would count this among our best days of hiking this year. We timed it perfectly and at least one photo of the golden larches should make it into our 2009 calendar.
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