avion ridge

on monday and tuesday, fraser, aaron and i hiked avion ridge in waterton.  fraser was in town from new york and aaron was here from singapore.  we are all converging for fraser's wedding, so it was a meaningful trip.  after meeting in the morning we bought food in pincher creek and stopped for lunch at the amazing mexican restaurant in twin butte of all places.
our route started from the red rock canyon parking lot.  we hiked the fairly flat and wide trail to snowshoe camp.
despite the forecast thundershowers, we managed to forget our tent... or more specifically our tentpoles.  we did however bring 2 tarps and some serious rope and we were able to rig up a stellar place to sleep.
we hiked to lost lake in the evening.  just before we reached the lake, lightning started crackling, and we were excited to watch sheets of hail smash into the water.

aaron also neglected to bring a raincoat, so he was styling the ever fashionable garbage bag jacket.
when we arrived back in camp it was pouring rain, but our gear was nice and dry.  we ate dinner in our shelter and snuggled in for an only slightly damp sleep.

the next morning we lazed around, had a 4 hour breakfast and didnt get going until just before noon.
our route went quickly up the shoulder of the mountain, kissed the BC border, and then turned up onto the ridge.
the views opened up quickly, and the trail along the ridge was spectacular.

we stopped on the peak of the ridge for some food and a chance to enjoy the scenery.  amazingly for waterton, there was almost no wind.  the clouds briefly threatened rain, and we could clearly see it raining in the castle range 2 valleys over, but our beautiful weather held steadfast all day.

after the peak, we still had a lot of ridge left to walk.  the shale turned red as the ridgeline bent northward.
the final section in the full alpine skirted around a col.  going up and over would have made a nice scramble, but we judged it too risky with our full packs.  the steep exposure and off camber trail were risk enough.

on the way down to goat lake we encountered a waterfall coming directly out of the mountain.  it was delicious.
descending into the valley above goat lake was a reward in itself.

after another food stop at goat lake we made the final descent to the valley and followed an easy double track out to arrive back at the car at dusk.  a beautiful trip with fun weather, great views, good food and old friends.

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