After our quick trip south to Waterton Lakes National Park, David and I headed 3 hours back up north for one more hike in the glorious Kananaskis valley: Mt. Indefatigable. This peak had some of the best views we’ve had on our entire 3-week grand tour of the Canadian Rockies, so that is SAYING SOMETHING!
Mt. Indefatigable (south peak) has about 3000 feet of elevation gain in ~10 km round trip, so it’s quite steep, as usual. At the start of the Indefatigable hiking trail is a terrifying sign stating that the trail was officially decommissioned in 2005 due to grizzly activity and you should consider hiking another trail, do you want to be eaten or something!?!?!? After staring at the sign for a few minutes and checking out the plentiful number of cars in the parking lot, we decided that apparently people around here don’t heed terrifying signs about grizzly bears so we guess we shouldn’t either? Maybe?
The walk through the woods before we reached the ridgeline was full of my frantic clapping and nervous singing (“bears, bears, go away, eat me another day”). Luckily the most heavily wooded section of trail is quite brief (~10 minutes), and then you walk next to an exposed ridgeline where you could probably see a grizzly attacking your face. We saw not a soul as we steadily climbed higher. Apparently, all of those cars in the parking lot were doing other things, like not being eaten by grizzlies.
After a while you reach a junction where you can veer left and climb up the south peak, or continue straight a bit further to climb up the north peak. The north peak is a “moderate” scramble, and there is a brief 1 km ridge walk to the south peak that is “mostly hiking” with a few short scramble-y sections. We opted to head up the south peak cos I was feeling pretty cranky and lazy, y’all (#noregrets).
After you veer to the left, you enter back into the woods and I resumed my frantic clapping and anti-bear signing. Fairly quickly, the trail gets steeper and the trees get smaller and the view opens up. We continued climbing and the trail turned into scree for the last several hundred feet, as it always seems to do in the Canadian Rockies. The final few hundred feet are slightly slower on account of the steepness + scree, but it’s not considered a scramble since you barely have to use your hands at all.
As you top out on the summit ridge you run into a rather ugly weather station. We skirted around the weather station and walked along the ridge to the true south summit, which has a large and obvious rock cairn. The views were CRAZY, Y’ALL! 360 degrees of VIEWS, VIEWS, VIEWS! MOUNTAINS! LAKES! TARNS! MORE MOUNTAINS! WEATHER STATIONS! We sat at the summit for almost an hour and had it completely to ourselves. A ballsy squirrel circled us continuously, eyeing our doritos and PB & J. I wondered anxiously if the pristine views and empty summit would come at the price of a grizzly eating my face on the way down the mountain.
After admitting to myself that yes, I would have to walk back through the grizzly-infested woods, we packed up and started heading down. And then we started seeing people. Lots of people… heading to the summit after noon! Huge groups of people. People playing music out of mini radios. People using ukulele cases as backpacks because they forgot their actual backpacks. People with dogs that randomly attacked David’s leg. People who didn’t even seem to have bear spray. ALL THE PEOPLE! As usual, the folks of the Canadian Rockies seem to do their hiking in the afternoon. Apparently, lots of people ignore the scary grizzly sign after all!
Thankful for all of the bear deterrents in the form of other human beings, we made our way down with significantly less bear-anxiety, living to hike another day! The end!