by Carolyn Geddert
This 9-10 hour hike is the shortest of the three but with 4270 ft of elevation gain it is by far the steepest climb and with the most exposure, especially up on the long ridge. To boost my confidence, I invited Hans, a friend with significant mountaineering experience, his wife and my good friend, Judy, along with their 17 yr old daughter, Jillian. The biggest challenge on the hike can be weather but the forecast was promising and the morning warm and calm. If all went according to plan, we would walk along Forum and Wall lakes, do some scrambling, and enjoy some more panoramic views from the top of Akamina Ridge.
Part way up the scramble, a rainstorm hit and we were able to hunker down and stay dry under a rock overhang.
We watched as another group of hikers stopped as well and one unfortunate fellow accidentally sprayed himself in the face with pepper spray! The mountains echoed with his f-bombs for quite some time.
When the rain stopped, we finished up the precarious scramble, made it to the ridge and decided it was lunch time. Clouds began to whiz by and at that elevation we were sometimes engulfed.
Then the wind picked up, and we started to wonder about turning back. A couple on their way back down strongly cautioned us against continuing. This same older woman had checked out our clothes earlier and questioned our preparedness for the weather on the ridge, prompting me to whisper something about her being a ‘drama queen’ and to stubbornly proceed onward.
Half an hour later we were at the highest peak and in the eye of a storm with horizontal hail and a wind that threatened to throw us right off the ridge. There was not a single tree or piece of vegetation for cover, and when we heard a sudden clap of thunder, we were wondering if we would even survive. Soaked through, hail biting our faces, packs bouncing, we ran until finally we found a few trees for shelter.
Thanks to Hans and his backup dry clothes, we were able to layer up and continue. Our descent was fast, and when we met another couple at the bottom, and they asked what the ridge was like, apparently I described our experience in a very colourful way, earning the title ‘Drama Queen #2’. So, I hope I’m not being too dramatic when I say that of the 3 hikes this one takes the prize for view.
At the top you are standing at the apex of Montana, British Columbia and Alberta. Next time I just want to enjoy the view a bit longer. Nevertheless, Akamina stamp EARNED!