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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Default Tent Ridge Horseshoe. With Grizzlies

I am big sucker for Ridgewalks and open, far-reaching vistas they offer. Labelled as "one of most enjoyable Ridgewalks you will ever do", Tent Ridge Horseshoe is true K-country classic:


The trip is well-described in various hiking guidebooks, such as Daffern "K-country Trail Guide" and Mike Potter "Ridgewalks in the Canadian Rockies". I opted for clockwise direction, as suggestions led me to believe it holds scenic advantage (it did). Only possible confusion is near the start -- identifying correct parking spot and logging road(s). I stopped at the pullout on north side of Mt. Shark access road, just before it starts losing elevation -- 1.8 km from Smith-Dorrien Trail. It was midweek and I was the only one there, but this won't be the case during the weekend. Still not sure I was at the right spot, I walked a bit in both directions to identify my start and exit spots -- they are about 300-400 meters apart, old deactivated logging roads with clear trail in the middle. Here is the map of entire trip:



In B.C they flag just about everything (even the wrong way!) but in Alberta this is not so. In dry conditions the trail is easy to follow, but in winter I could see potential for some confusion. Critical part is turnoff from logging road, some 15 minutes from the start:


Trail splits right (west) -- note branches laid down across the road in left part of photo above (wrong way) From here trail gently ascends forested slopes, with much more deadfall than expected -- it shows BC border is close [}] -- before emerging to wide open Bowl inside the Horseshoe in 30 minutes or so:


This is such a calm and pristine place; it was tempting to sit down in the meadow and spend the day. Trail heads south for 10 minutes, then turns east and ascends small bench dotted with golden larches leading to start of Ridge itself:


Good trail switchbacks in scree across first bump, then reaches the "crux" -- brief wall that calls for handhold in only one or two spots and is best tackled head-on:


Casual hiker could find this a bit exciting, but Steven Song would probably go over with his hands tied behind his back. All difficulties behind, trail reappears and leads in another 20 minutes to first "summit" -- East Peak with orange Weather Station on top:


Turning west, gentle slope descends towards low saddle between East and Center Peak (Hub of the Horseshoe). The saddle could be used as potential access (or exit) point from Tryst Lake deep bellow. Views were simply fantastic in all directions:


1. East Peak from the saddle, with Mt. Chester in the distance right
2. Tryst Lake -- looks quite dried out
3. Views north from the saddle -- Horseshoe Bowl meadows bellow, upper Spray Lake behind

Center Peak is reached in about 20 minutes from the saddle, and is by far the most rugged of all 3 "summits". This is fantastic vantage point, so close to the Fist I felt I could almost touch it. I walked a bit on crumbly and deteriorating ridge leading north -- it looked it could be scrambled as alternate access point to col between Fist and Smuts and intersection with normal Kane route. As I haven't done Fist yet, this is the likely way I will attempt (via Tryst Lake), and then come down via Commonwealth Creek thus completing the loop:


1. East Peak with Chester Group behind
2. Fist left, Smuts right with connecting ridge directly ahead. Birdwood behind
3. Views north towards Tent Ridge and upper Spray Lake

Turning north, the most scenic part of the day arrives. Descent from Center peak was more rugged than expected. There was path beaten in scree to the left (west), but I stayed on the crest which called for couple of scrambly moves. Last part is awesome hands-in-our-pocket walk on grassy Tent Ridge leading to third and final "summit", with out of your mind views of Smith-Dorrien corridor, Spray Lakes and Bryant Creek/Mt. Shark area. This is another fantastic spot and it can be accessed via normal Tent Ridge Trail (Daffern Trip 73 in old edition) in just about 1 1/2 hr from Mt. Shark road, thus making it great after-work hike for someone living in Canmore.



After about 1/2 hr of soaking these magnificent views I started my descent. Trail descends ridge a bit, then turns right and dips steeply towards the treeline (Do not follow side trail leading left -- it contours for a bit then completely disappears. Instead just drop down straight and look for good trail emerging near large boulder as first sparse trees start appearing).

I was ready now for fast march to the car, but one more excitement awaited. As I dropped down deep gully leading to the meadows and treeline I noticed some movement ahead. I stopped; right across the trail some 100 vertical bellow was the largest grizzly I have ever seen! It stopped too as it saw me. We looked at each other for about 30 seconds, then he casually scampered away. I waited a bit, not sure what was the best thing to do -- as I had to go directly down where he just crossed the path. I considered briefly just hiking north off-trail and trying to pick up my ascent route, but that seemed too much of trouble. So I descended carefully making a lot of noise (in case some of his friends were nearby). I had no further trouble, and after entering treeline picked up speed and hiked back to the car in another 45 minutes or so.

Taking to a friend afterwards he told me he and his girlfriend saw the bear at exactly the same spot couple of years ago -- so if you go, beware: This seems to be a hotspot. Finally some stats:

Round Trip: ~11 km
Vertical: ~850 m
Time: 6 hrs (including breaks)

Not feeling tired (or maybe with too much adrenaline from grizzly encounter), I drove to nearby Chester Lake parking lot and hiked to the lake in dwindling daylight. I sat on the shore for few minutes enjoying the solitude, then hiked out by moonlight which was great experience on its own:


At the end, is Tent Horseshoe best Ridgewalk I've ever done? No -- Northover Ridge and Panorama-Gentian traverse in Garibaldi are better, to name a few. But it is pretty darn good, and offers fantastic rewards without too much effort. As such it should be on the list of any K-country explorer!

Alternate report with more high-res photos, map and downloadable GPS Track here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 09-03-2020 at 06:38 PM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 06:19 AM
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Yikes! Just curious - were you yelling and he was still there? I've always wondered if the reason I never see bears up close is luck or all the yelling I do...
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 08:50 AM
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I was out solo once and coming down the trail from Sofa Mountain near Waterton Park and I passed two bears one on either side of me and despite my approaching loud noise, they could not be bothered to even look up at me. I had always thought that perhaps my noise was a reason I never saw bears but perhaps not so much. They must have known I was there 15ft away but did not care one bit. I did hike pretty fast after and got back to my car quickly.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 09:59 AM
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I think on a windless day, they'll smell you first then hear you. But if windy, then yelling is definitely a good weapon. I yell when soloing, but if going with someone, I'll yell if my partner yells. If my partner is quite, then I'll be quite too. Haven't even seen one bear (not to say encounter or attack) when I'm outside my vehicle...
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by vern.dewit

Yikes! Just curious - were you yelling and he was still there? I've always wondered if the reason I never see bears up close is luck or all the yelling I do...
Vern -- in my 20 years of exploring Western Canada I saw many bears; both griz and black. Most griz in Jasper; now on Coast only black. I developed certain habits; regardless where I am, I always scan ahead of me. When I can't see far enough (on or bellow treeline) I yell frequently. I think this is single most useful preventive method - make as much noise as possible.

Here's one funny, but true incident several years ago. I was coming back from Tonquin via Astoria. Just as I rounded Old Horn Mtn, I saw fresh bear scat that wasn't there in the morning (I was dayhiking). It was getting dark and trail plunged in forest. So I started singing. Every song I knew of Metallica and ACDC, coupled with some Bosnian turbo-folk for good measure (guaranteed to drive you insane). After 30 min I arrived to campground. Two guys, packing up frantically, with panic expression on their faces. Following conversation took place:

-- What is going on guys?
-- Haven't you heard all that noise?? The bear is eating someone alive up there in the woods

Took me awhile to calm them down. I still chuckle when I think of this.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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Update September 2015

If there is one hike you should do in K-country this time of year, it is this one. This time no grizzlies, but oh what a fabulous views. Larches are on fire. Went counter-clockwise and hiked up to west end first, then traversed towards the apex. Bit of minor snow patches but they can all be avoided. Then on a low point between the apex and weather station decided on a whim to drop to Tryst Lake. Why? Because I was curious. Long story short: It is easy, but you should stay out of trees - which means towards the head of the valley below the Fist. It is hard to justify such exit (or access) to the ridge though -- "normal" way is much better. Couple of pics:

[Spray Lakes from west end of the ridge. It takes less than an hour from parking to get here. Such an amazing viewpoint for so little effort]

[Views east across Smith-Dorrien to all too familiar peaks. Larches are near, or at their prime]

[Tent Ridge Horseshoe. Rugged part leading to highpoint ahead. Mt. Birdwood above]

[Tryst Lake in cirque below the Fist on alternate exit. Water level extremely low]

Whole thing --- 4 hrs (no breaks), which makes it great candidate for after-work hike as well. Can not be recommended high enough!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 02:22 AM
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Views and colors don't get much better than that. Well done! I really like the third photo!
Thanks for sharing.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom!
Mat 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.


http://www.truedino.com/scramble.htm
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 08-27-2020, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Late August 2020

Same clockwise loop, without grizzlies this time. Took 5 hrs in very leisurely pace; can be done under 4 should one want. Amount of change is remarkable; well beaten, eroded trails now, in particular on drop from north end. Expected solitude but quite a few people (specially for workday) - afraid to think how it looks like on weekend. Ridge is still spectacular though and shame for haze coming off BC wildfires that ruined the pics:


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[Pano from "The Hub" looking north, showing entire horseshoe]

These two are from north end just before trail dips down to Monica basin. It is one of best viewpoints I know in K-country and again what a shame for bad light that make photos suck. On a clear fall day, be here ~1.5hrs before sunset with thermos & food, bring tripod, make a nest and wait. It will be more than worth
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Word about Smith-Dorrien road: It is quite bad right now. So many waterbars & really bumpy. Its like road deteriorated 3 times since I drove earlier this spring. Be very careful if you value your kidneys. Once I was against it, but now I really think they should pave this road; graders are constantly working but its simply not worth considering amount of traffic it receives nowdays
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Last edited by zeljkok; 09-03-2020 at 06:37 PM.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2020, 02:01 PM
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great shots, another one for the bucket list.

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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-28-2020, 09:11 PM
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Great shots. Safe to say that anything between Longview and Lake Louise is a write-off this summer with regard to solitude.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 08-29-2020, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheIceTitan View Post
Great shots. Safe to say that anything between Longview and Lake Louise is a write-off this summer with regard to solitude.

Thank you. Re solitude - not just everything, but there is indeed many more people than usual. I expected the opposite, because no foreign tourists (except for these that travel from Washington to Alaska via Takkakaw Falls). Why is that? Possible explanations I have is



1) Canadians can't travel for vacation out of country, so our own parks is what is left
2) More people out of work because of COVID, so more time to do something & cities are traps


Driving today by Barrier lake, it's like Hawaii beach, quite unreal.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 01:34 AM
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Thanks for the trip report. So nice that my friend and I are going to do it tomorrow. My friend is having second thoughts after reading some reports. We did Pocaterra ridge by going up Rockfall valley, the same way you did. We went up directly from the pass that you say is class 2. We've done Mt. Indefatigable but not the knife edge. Also have done Wasootch peak. Have done Centennial ridge, Heart Mtn. Horseshoe. Do you think we will find this hike difficult?Thanks
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 02:44 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ger View Post
Thanks for the trip report. So nice that my friend and I are going to do it tomorrow. My friend is having second thoughts after reading some reports. We did Pocaterra ridge by going up Rockfall valley, the same way you did. We went up directly from the pass that you say is class 2. We've done Mt. Indefatigable but not the knife edge. Also have done Wasootch peak. Have done Centennial ridge, Heart Mtn. Horseshoe. Do you think we will find this hike difficult?Thanks

You will be fine. It is similar to Pocaterra in terms of difficulty. Enjoy!
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 09-12-2020, 12:54 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement to do this hike. It was a really great hike. The scramble part looked hard from a distance but wasn't that bad when you got up to it. One guy was riding and carrying his bike to do the horseshoe. He would have been carrying his bike more then riding it. Here are a few pics.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 09-12-2020, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Glad you had good hike. Yes, that scramble bit looks worse from below. In general, anything that made its way to Daffern book is not difficult. Only exception I can think off from top of my head is that step on Wind ridge, solid class 3 rock


Mtn. bikers are crazy. Hard to believe anyone would go on Tent ridge with bike. Only that drop from weather station & 2nd half of west ridge to viewpoint look like cycling territory to me.
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