Day 1 Kananaskis Village to Ribbon Lake Campground 12.2 km 810 m Elevation Gain, 4 hrs 35 min.
The hike to Ribbon Lake Campground was a tale of two hikes. The majority of the distance was following Ribbon Creek as it made it way along the valley, rising just 310 m in 10 km. The second part of the hike involved hiking over the valley headwall via the chains, accumulating 290 m of elevation in 2.5 km.
Having parked in near the hotel in Kananaskis Village we were off down the trail at 12:30 pm. It was a warm sunny day and there were many people around. We were quickly reminded where we were as we came across a pile of bear scat only 4 minutes into the hike.
The trails close to Kananaskis Village have lots of sign posts at the junctions so it was easy to navigate our way over to Ribbon Creek. We arrived at the creek in about 30 minutes. The main trail coming from Ribbon Creek parking lots runs on the north side of the creek. It would take take another 25 minutes to cross a newly constructed bridge over the river to join up with the main trail.
After checking one of the detailed maps that populate the trails we proceeded down the trail and up into the woods.
The trail through the forest wound in and out of the trees. There were not many views of the river but we did have lots of view of the flanks of The Olympic Summit on our right. We hiked for about 40 minutes before we came to the the bike racks indicating the end of the section on which you could ride.
We quickly left the hot and exposed creek bed behind and hiked along a soft forested path. The river became rugged and more interesting with numerous small canyons and waterfalls.
We stopped for a snack just shy of 3 hours of hiking. After a nice 15 minute break we got restarted knowing that we had half of the elevation coming up over a very short distance. It only took us 10 minutes to arrive at Ribbon Falls. The falls were as stunning as always. We stopped briefly and continued on as there was quite a crowd of people gathered looking at the falls.
A quick short hike from the falls gave a sneak peak of the upper path of the creek.
We barely paused at the falls since the lake was our destination. The path lead away from the falls in a circular route to gain elevation before coming to the chains to scale the cliffs above the falls. We crossed a couple of scree fields before heading up a lightly treaded path up to the chains. After quickly passing through the first set of chains we encountered a delay as the group in front of us scaled the next set of chains. To fill the time we followed a very skinny and exposed path along the edge of the cliff to a a view of the Ribbon Creek as it tumbled over the cliffs we were about to scale.
The chains up the cliffs are in two sections. The first section is very short and leads to a small plateau.
The hardest part of the second set of chains was getting going. Just as you got on the chains, there was a short flat slab. Once we hauled ourselves over the slab the rest of the section was very straightforward.
I really found the first step very awkward. The rock had been worn so smooth there was no where to put your feet. I used the chain to haul myself up and over. The rest of the section was on a nice angled slab but we both hung onto the chain for safety, it is there, may as well use it.
The chains continued up the rock face but where quite necessary. We did keep a hold of the chains since they were available. It was quite a fun bit of hiking for two non climbers.
It took just under 20 minutes to pass through the chains. The trail took us over to Ribbon Creek as it tumbled through a series of waterfalls. The trial went up over another fairly steep rock face before passing by one last waterfall.
We arrived at the east end of Ribbon lake just before 5pm. It had been a little over an hour of enjoyable hiking/scrambling since we had left Ribbon Falls. The campground is at the far end of the lake we took our time walking the along the lake shore. The campground on this visit was very busy. We could many multi-coloured jackets moving around the campground. We took one of the few campsites remaining. It was 5:05pm.
We had the tent set up shortly and headed off to explore the lake and the campground.
Sometimes I enjoy going into the backcountry to get away from people and for some peace and quiet. The campground was packed and had more of a party feel complete fires occupying multiple fire pits. We made dinner on one of the new very nice picnic tables. After dinner we took advantage of one of the fire pits and chatted with some of the other campers. As the night wore on the overcast skies got replaced by blue skies.
We headed to bed as darkness fell. Day 2 promised to be a big day as we planned to over Guinns Pass and down Galetea Creek and then back to the car along ski trails. Our hike essentially circumnavigated Mt Kidd.