20170617: Wildflower Insanity (West Ridge, Highwood)

This lazy sunny morning we were on our way to Holy Cross Mountain when I turned my ankle (understatement) in the meadows beyond Grass Pass. We turned around to head home and as the ankle was feeling marginally better by the time we re-traced ourselves to the top of the pass we decided to take the small trail on our right and head the short ways up West Ridge. “So that you can at least get in a Peakery summit” said Bert (or something to that effect). Peakery.com is a website where ‘peakbaggers’ can keep track of their ascents and stats. Bert’s already done West Ridge, so this was for my benefit.

Now let it be known that I don’t give a whit about Peakery or Strava or that kind of thing, but since the top was only another 20 minutes up an easy open slope, and it was still early in the day on a gorgeous Saturday, I agreed.

Boy was I glad I did! Grass Pass is incredible on its own, but West Ridge opened up the views even more. You won’t believe it possible, as your senses will be already in overload from the beauty of the pass itself… But yes. If you’re making a day of Grass Pass, go do the short ascent to West Ridge!

8km round trip. And we didn’t see a soul.

After a snooze in the sun and limping back to the car – a slow pace made slower by many, many pauses for flower photos :-), we drove home via Highwood and stopped in at Fortress gas station for an ice cream. Lovely day.

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Grass Pass trail parking starts off the highway where 2013 flooding washed away the road (the trailhead is across the road about 150m south; look for the “no ATV” signs).
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A mass of trees laid on the bank serves as fish habitat.

The Grass Pass trail is a gentle pack trail – watch for horse poop – that leads through the lush forest for about 3k then opens up to meadow. Take the left singletrack/animal trail up to West Ridge and continue until you can’t go any higher! Different flowers at every elevation. Gorgeous.

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Grass Pass
Heading up from the forest, towards the pass

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Our rolling Alberta foothills. Grass Pass.

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West Ridge – 360 degree views and more flowers!

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The butterflies and bees suggested this would be a pleasant spot for picnic and a nap. I was, indeed!

I only took a few photos ;). Seriously, there were so many more flowers I didn’t capture. I’ve never seen such a variety or so many flowers in a single hike. Highly recommend!

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Resources:

Directions and report from Hiking With Barry

Trailpeak.com post

Trail report from Kaptain Kananaskis

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