This one has it all: Views, flowers, glaciers, mountains, animals, hike-through, waterfalls, so it quickly becomes a favorite
We started the day at 5 a.m.in threatening weather but still were able to catch the 8 a.m. hikers' shuttle out of St. Mary, while Katie drove the car to Sunrift Gorge and then joined the rest of the GiG for the shuttle to Siyeh Bend. In this way, we shuttled the car at the beginning, not having to worry about a late finish of the hike while eliminating all stress of making the last shuttle.
We hit the trail by 9 a.m, traveling uphill at a steady, but not too-steep grade. By 10:30 were at the famed Preston Park, with flowers galore and in rare bright colors, even for this late in the year. Before Preston Park, there are many other stream crossings and meadows with equally gorgeous flowers in a bright green background. We stopped at this beautiful meadow and stream bed for a snack to prepare us for the elevation gain to come.
From Preston Park, the trail takes a decidedly uphill turn (as you climb the flank of Matahpi) and comes into alpine country above the tree line. The flowers of the meadow such as western anemone, arnica, death camas and blue explorers gentian give way to alpine flowers such as forget-me-not and moss campion. Besides the beauty of the flowers, we face sprinkles and a high wind as we approached Siyeh pass. We reached the pass at 12:40, beating Katie's estimate of 1 p.m.
As we crested pass, the rain and wind took their toll with flapping ponchos, and we were happy for some sheltering rocks at the top, where we took a brief stop for lunch. Due to possible thunderstorms, Katie kept the group moving as it is always best to be off the top of a peak or pass before 2 p.m. when the air has more tendency to become electrified. We encountered several friendly hikers, who often took group photos for us, saving us from using Photoshop or trying to take selfies.
On the way down, we came across a herd of ewes and lambs, who seemed rather unafraid of us, but after we got our fill of photos and continued on, the sheep scattered down the mountain. Also on the way down, we had excellent views of Sexton glacier and all of the creeks and waterfalls that came from it; the gals wondered about coming back to climb over to see and touch the glacier.
The downhill side, going into Sunrift gorge, also provided many huckleberries and Saskatoon or Service berries, but as the rain increased, the GiG couldn't get a full mouthful along the way as we scampered back to the car quickly on our worn-out legs.
The gorge didn't disappoint in beauty as our last major sight of the day. Since this hike s a walk-through, you never retrace your steps or see the same scenery twice, which makes it even more special.
We finished the day with a meal at Two Dog Flats cafe in the Rising Sun campground. We all enjoyed the edamame appetizer that Sue bought and shared with us, and we all did enjoy our entrees.
Even thought the day started out stormy and ended so, we had one of the best days of the summer.
Link to Kathy's pics
Link to Katie's pics