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Old Goat Glacier Hike

Old Goat Glacier, Kananaskis
On my latest hike I adventured with two friends and my sister. It was a great day out in the mountains (how can you be surrounded by God's magnificent mountains and it not be a great day?).

The Old Goat Glacier Trail was our hike of choice as it is only a short 20min drive out of Canmore up Hwy 742 and it promised to be shorter than many others beheld in my hiking book.

Old Goat Glacier
Difficulty: moderate
Round trip: 10.5 km
Hiking Time: 3-4 hrs
Elevation Gain: 620 m
FitBit: approx 15,000 steps and 164 floors

To find the trailhead from Canmore get onto the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail (Hwy 742). You'll pass the Canmore Nordic Centre which is a great place to grab a snack and bathroom break if you need it before hitting the trail. If you reset your odometer to 0 when passing the Nordic Centre your turn off will be 13.8km from there.

You'll come to a road where you'll turn right to cross the dam. At the end turn left and follow the road until your odometer reads approximately 15.5km. Look for the large sign that says 'trailhead parking' although no indication of which trail. But this is it. There is room for quite a few cars here (my book indicates a different spot to park a little farther up the road, however this lot has been created since then). Begin your hike at the SW corner of the lot (kitty-corner to where you drove in from). The creek will be on your left and you'll join up with the trial from the old parking spot not too far in to the hike.

The first half of the hike is beautiful and easy as you traverse through the forest beside the creek. It took us about 45 min at an easy pace. Then you come to a clearing which is an avalanche run-out. So many rocks, lots and lots of rocks! The reason why the trip is ranked as moderate becomes apparent quite quickly.

The avalanche run out
Enjoy the view of a tall but narrow waterfall ahead (W), but you now need to turn left (S) where among the many rocks you will see small cairns (piles of rocks) showing you the way. We actually missed these originally and headed towards the waterfall. There were people up there so it was deceiving, but that is not the trail, if any trail at all. Look for the massive boulders on the mountain side, you may see ants of people along the path...yes that is where you are to go!

Your route is ahead to the right of the big boulders. See the little carins at the bottom of the picture?
Do not be discouraged because as I have said before, if I can do it, you can do it! So follow the cairns, and you'll come to a boot-beaten path through the trees and come out at the base of the hill. Begin your ascent on the path which is discernible amidst the rocks. This is where my book says the path is "surprisingly merciful" but I might disagree and say what is surprising is the amazing view behind you that only grows better as you climb and what is merciful is the chance to stop and snap pictures in order to give your body a rest haha! If you have poles, this spot is where you might want them.

One thing I love about hiking is seeing how far you've come. It never ceases to amaze.
Part way up you'll find some respite from the sun as you continue the ascent among the trees again, which means you're getting close! It was at this point where the lady that had been trailing us from the base of the waterfall caught up. Unbelievable! I had the feeling it was like the scene in Princess Bride where Westly is gaining on the Andre the Giant when climbing the rope on the Cliffs of Insanity. Every time we took note of where she was, she was closer than before, it was inconceivable! Finally, when she did in fact catch up, in a brief conversation she indicated this was her first hike of the season. *pick jaw up off the floor here* I mean she wasn't old, but she wasn't young either. Just super upbeat and super fit! I hope I can be like that in 25 years.

You'll come to the point where you are nearing the top and you can see a ridge ahead and you think "just over that ridge", but so you are not deceived, there are 2 small ridges. But the end is nigh and you can do it! You'll come over that second ridge and though there are some trees in the way of the glacier (you can see it if you veer to the right off the path a bit), the grade levels and it's the home stretch.

Now we had to stop and have our lunch quickly due to a time constraint to get back, but you can keep going all the way to the glacier if you so desire. We found a nice place to rest our legs and enjoy some eats while enjoying the lovely mountain air with good company and the Old Goat Glacier just over our shoulder. It was beautiful.

Panorama: Old Goat Glacier on the left
Can never get enough of this view!

As we climbed I commented how this mountain looked fake because of the way the light hit it. But it is very real. God's art for us to enjoy :)
Our total time to ascend we estimated was 2.5 hours. Our total time back to the car was only an hour. The descent can be tough on the knees, but again poles would help. And though you'll be watching your footing on the way down be sure to glance up once and a while to enjoy the view because it is magnificent!

 Happy Hiking!



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