Nihahi Ridge Trail with Sarah
Date Walked: 14th September 2014
Distance: 6.3 miles (10.2 km)
Actual Ascent: 1604 ft (489 m)
Time Taken: 4 hours
Sarah and I managed to get out again this weekend with a fantastic trip to the lower end of Nihahi Ridge. The accumulated snow that fell through the week was all but gone and as we left our parking spot beside the Harold Chapman suspension bridge looking along the road that leads to the trailhead we couldn't help but enjoy the beautiful weather that had now returned.
Mt Glasgow, Cornwall and Banded Peak were all wearing a good coat of winter white and bouncing light back along the elbow valley adding to the beauty of the day, I could hardly wait to see them from the ridge top.
We saw a few critters along the way today including a good herd of deer that dashed off quickly as we approached. The only thing that hung around long enough for a picture was the ever reliable chipmunk who was busy keeping his feet off the remaining cold wet snow.
The initial climb up through the forest is a good pull and stopping to take in the scenery through the occasional windows that open up is certainly called for.
After the opening ascent the trail levels out above a high meadow where a well placed rock provides seating against a fantastic backdrop of snow capped peaks.
A zoomed shot from the meadow provides a greater view of those guardians of the little elbow trail, Cornwall, Glasgow and Banded Peak. It is still my hope to ascend at least one of these leviathans to get the view from what looks like an incredible summit location.
After crossing the high meadow and ascending once more through a short forested section on the lower end of the ridge we reach the protected edge that means we are almost on the lower ridgetop. The edge protection guards a couple of sheer drop offs here, though there is no exposure at all on the hike.
Very soon after the protected edge a short steep ascent brings us to the lower ridge top, which opens out beautifully through a frame of rock and trees, I held back to let Sarah get that moment of wow that I discovered when I first came here (and still get now)
It is great to approach the 'window' and have the whole of the elbow valley open up in front of you. The mountains now span the horizon completely and below the elbow river cuts a meandering swath through the dark green forest.
This was the intended target for the day and we sat down for a sandwich, fruit and tea on the broad overlook. The sheer high walls of Mt Romulus and Mt Remus are now standing tall in the distance and the location, weather and company is perfect.
I can't keep Sarah out of the food as I wander around taking shots of this wonderful lunch location. On the left of this shot is the vertical wall of rock guarding the summit of Mt Romulus, one I have yet to attempt.
As we eat lunch I tell Sarah she could get higher on the ridge for even better views if she feels up to it. A combination of sugar rush and short rest was enough to drive us onward and upward toward the next ledge.
After a short time it was apparent that enough was enough, she had ascended a good lump over a reasonable distance and not being able to get out often was telling on Chiz of the wilderness. We stopped at an opening looking down through the valley at a wonderful array of mountains and sat down again to take a drink and admire the view.
The view is spectacular and a great reward for the effort expended to reach this point. On the far left of shot is the ridge line we have ascended, just visible through the ridge top trees is the summit of Threepoint Mountain, next to that is Cougar Mountain before Cornwall, Glasgow and Banded Peak. Breaking up the chain is the wide Elbow River valley, in the far distance above the river is Mt Evan Thomas (more than 20 km away) Romulus and Remus are joined on the right by Fisher Peak and Mt Howard; what a beautiful array of the very best of the foothills.
As we turn for home the fleece is required for a short time to offset the cool feeling brought about by sitting too long admiring the view. Threepoint mountain is now clearly visible on the left, Bluerock mountain is peeking through the gap and then Cougar, Banded Peak, Glasgow and Cornwall
It's a much easier short wander downhill all the way, back through the forest to the awaiting truck where we sat on the tailgate drinking tea and soaking in the sun a little more, it was a fantastic day and one we hope to repeat soon.