Pigeon Mountain

Picking hikes in spring is always a bit tricky. Trails have started to dry, snow has kind of melted – but there are still snow patches and ices lurking about the place. It was really a bit too early to try hiking Pigeon Mountain. Based on what you could see from the road, Alex was convinced it would be dry – I was a little more dubious, but figured a little snow wouldn’t kill us.

We set off fairly late – it was afternoon by the time we started hiking. The day was sunny and warm, but slightly unsettled. I was slightly hungover, having been drinking last night while enjoying the Missed Connections improv show at ArtsPlace, and then wandering out to dance to an 80s cover band and engage in some ironic head banging (it may have been ironic but it still gave me a sore neck the next day).

It didn’t take us long to hit snow – unsurprising. It didn’t take long for my slight hangover to fade either. Thankfully.

It’s five kilometres up the road before you reach the turnoff for the Pigeon Mountain trail. If conditions are good (that is, the road isn’t covered in snow) then it’s worth bringing bikes to ride up to this point, if only for the coast back downhill again.

Having turned off onto the Pigeon Mountain trail things got icy in the trees and I finally caved and put on my spikers – if only to help Finn along. But the section through the trees doesn’t last long, and then suddenly we were out and into the alpine, above the treeline and finding huge stretches of dry trail again.

Dry trail that was climbing steeply, and covered with the huge herd of bighorn sheep. There were about 40 of them, mostly young looking, and carefully keeping out of our way.

We stopped for a brief lunch, then continued onwards and upwards, and it got windier and windier. Light saber battles unfolded across the scree fields. Rock sabers were wielded.

In the end we gave up on reaching the summit. Travelling through the snow had been slow, the wind was strong, and the daylight wouldn’t last forever. We went up to the saddle below the summit, and tried to pretend it was just as good. 6.8km in, it would still be a big return trip for an early season hike on small legs.

One of our party set off alone, aiming to make it to the summit without the aid of oxygen. The rest of us began the descent to base camp.

The clouds made empty threats, finally managing to cover up the sun but nothing more. Descending through the snow was not as fast as we’d like, and our shoes were getting wet – another spring hike where we’d underestimated how waterproof we should be. No bears on the way down, just more melting snow and out of tune singing.

Back at the car without injury six hours later, adventure completed. Success! Oh, except for the tick we found in Finn’s hair that evening – ew, ew, ew.

Distance: 13.6km
Elevation gain: 883m

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