|Stunning scenery on the trail.
I have no idea where that quote came from, but it sure does speak to me. I wanted to kick off the season with a really tough hike, not just because I’m crazy, but also because I had something to prove to myself and my group of fellow hikers. I’ll get to that part later.
For starters, my friend brought her 5 year old on this hike last year, and as such, I knew we’d be able to hack it at our current skill and fitness levels. I wasn’t saying, climb Mt. Everest, or anything overtly dangerous like that, but I knew that a hike listed on trailpeak.com as “difficult” would at least give us something to talk about for a few weeks after. I also knew we wouldn’t be dealing with chains, or extreme cliff hazards, or anything too over the top.
We met up at my house and drove out to the trailhead in the Kananaskis. It’s essentially right at the seasonal gates past Bragg Creek, which isn’t too far a jaunt from my home. There were 13 people eager to make their way up Prairie Mountain to help me celebrate turning 37. That, in itself, is pretty epic.
|Our absolutely incredible group at the top of Prairie Mountain!
It started out tough right off the hop, with a steep, icy section. I wondered immediately what I had gotten myself into. I like to meander at a much slower pace than my husband and many of my friends, so I stayed at the back. This way I can pretend I’m doing it on purpose as the “sweep” so we don’t leave anyone behind. Truth is, I like to look around a lot, walk slow, take breaks as I need them, and generally enjoy myself.
My father in law, who is a dear friend of mine, and also enjoys hiking with the kids and I often, was struggling with the steep, quick elevation gains. I think the largest problem here, was the blister forming on his heel. I decided to stay back with him to make sure he plugged along. We finally reached a portion that was quite icy. A lady stopped and told us we’d definitely need Micro Spikes for this section. She also told us we had a fair ways to go yet. This discouraged my father in law who made the choice to turn around and return to the vehicles. I gave him moleskin for his blister out of my safety kit and the ok to return alone as it was a very populated pathway so he wouldn’t be entirely alone on the trail. Normally, I wouldn’t be ok with someone going back by themselves, but with how busy it was there it didn’t feel like a terrible idea.
I forged on and caught up with part of my group, and arrived at the plateau and could see the remainder of our people up ahead.
Much to my surprise, my friend was waiting at the top with a birthday beer that had been chilling in the snow for me! Friends are so wonderful, I am very fortunate to have such good ones.
|Prairie Mountain Hike, Success!
Another friend helped me to set up my inflatable couch (lay bag), and I promptly rolled off of it rather dramatically and completely by accident. After a lot of laughs and special acknowledgment that I had saved my beer, I managed to sit happily on my inflatable for a bit before we began to head back down.
The way back presented different challenges with the steep sections of ice. The sun was beating down on the south facing side, and things were becoming slushy and slippery, a couple places even with my Micro Spikes on.
A friend struggled with knee discomfort on the way down and I shared my trekking pole with her to try to help ease some of that, and give her a bit more balance and stability. Once we all made it back to the truck, I heard lots of “I can’t wait to do more of that!” Time spent outside is rarely wasted.
If you tackle your big challenges head on (within reason), you often will find yourself accomplishing great things. What did I have to prove on this “difficult” hike you ask? That we are capable of wonderful amazing things. That together, we can encourage each other to be better, to try harder, to do something new. That our bodies can be pushed towards accomplishments we didn’t think possible. That we are powerful!
|A lay bag and a summit birthday beer!
To those who made the hike to the top that day, congratulations! To those who didn’t, I know you worked hard regardless of how far you made it, and for that you should feel proud. To those who couldn’t come at all, may you find something that challenges you and helps you to grow stronger! Better yet, join me next time if you feel ready!
When I collected my boys at their friends’ house, I was met with a surprising number of questions about how the hike was, what did it look like at the top, was it difficult, was there snow… and so on. I had a pang of sadness, just for a moment. I didn’t feel sad that I had time to myself as an adult in a group, but I did feel sad that my kids couldn’t join me on my adventure today to see the incredible view at the top! I might book a full day once the ice is gone, and just take our time meandering up that insane mountain, so they too can have the chance to see the top.
|Erinn Bosch (Mom Wears Hiking Boots) and husband Chase Bosch on Prairie Mountain
NOTE: Always be sure to check with your doctor if you aren’t certain about your current fitness state before taking on any major challenges like this one. If you don’t feel ready to tackle something quite so bold, definitely look into shorter or lower elevation hikes, or walks on your local pathways. There are all kinds of ways to challenge yourself, and plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. It is also important to be prepared for the many challenges offered on a mountain hike. Be armed with knowledge about bear safety, proper footwear, gear for icy conditions this time of year and proper food/clothing/water. Always consider traveling in a group, and remember to stay on designated paths!