N 49° 21.753 W 114° 15.545
BCP123 - Table Mountain
Elev. 2234 metres
This cap was the objective for today. And it made us work for it!
I left Calgary around 6:30am to meet up with dronnord in Pincher Creek. With the drive down taking over 2 hours and a preliminary cap out of the way, it was almost 10am by the time we hit the trail head. The parking lot was busy, and it was obvious that we were going to have company at times on our trek today.
There's no doubt about it; it's quite the climb to get to this cap. After about 30 minutes climbing in aspen forest, we broke out into the open and started to get our first real views of what lay ahead. Up hill climbing. More up hill climbing. And still more... well, you get the idea!, I'm sure.The trail had been well marked by someone far more ambitious than myself, and there's little danger of loosing it even on bare rock. More than once one of us said "You've got to be kidding!", only to spot a trail marker soon after leading us up a less steep slope. Once you leave the stream, the real uphill slogging begins. It's not as bad as Baldy, but it's no less high a climb -- it just takes longer to get there. There are ample opportunities for experiencing views that take your breath away, as well as chances to get close to the edge and look straight down at a) where you've been or b) where you really, really don't want to go! (The edge views are strictly optional, but if you don't have a fear of heights, I highly recommend them.)
There's some interesting geology to be seen on the way up. I wasn't expecting igneous rock in the mountains, and so it took me longer than it should have to identify the large quantities of basalt that line the trail in spots. There's one simply stunning waterfall over basalt bedrock that's quite something. And scattered along the ridge between the lesser summit and the cap are many pieces of oolitic limestone that are quite interesting to see. And water rippled sand and mudstones are present in many different spots along the hike.
After finally reaching the lesser summit, it's a relatively easy trek across alpine meadows. The hills are gentle, but after the hike up, they seem worse than they are. The trail may look like it disappears in spots, but keeping moving forward and you'll pick it up around the next corrner. After a surprisingly final stroll through an alpine forest, you're greeted with the final ascent up an alpine hillside that today was covered in wildflowers in bloom. Though it was the hottest day of the year so far (30C) and the wind could only be described as breezy with the occasional gusty period, I actually thought I might end up making use of my sweater as we got closer to the top. I didn't, but the thought was there; even with today's relatively gentle winds, it was much cooler at the summit than we'd expected.
The stovepipe that the cap is embedded in was easily visible as we made our final approach. As a surveyor, dronnord had some cutting comments about whoever had done the stamping. I took the opportunity to learn a few things about the numbers on the cap and was glad I did; I knew there had to be a system behind the numbers, but was surprised to discover that it was much simpler than I thought. The cap itself is in fine shape, and it's not all that close to the edge. I might have told a different story had it been windier at the summit today, but in a gentle breeze it's no problem to approach it. The views down to the scree slope on the north side of the mountain are pretty darned amazing. That's a very vertical drop off!
Continued in next log...