One of the peaks of spectacular Mount Lougheed (pronounced law-heed), Windtower is one of those must-do hikes, especially if there is no wind in the forecast. It is only a 10km long (return) hike, so it is a great pay-off for the energy expended in getting up its 1000m elevation gain, and you are in the views quite quickly.
This peak is well deserving of its name because it can get very, very windy up on its flanks! As luck would have it, the day we set out to hike this mountain at the very beginning of May, it was sunny and calm. So calm, in fact, that we didn’t have to use the rock wall shelters that people have built up top to protect you as you hastily gobble up your picnic and then race back down to the protection of the forested trails far below.
The hike begins by following the popular route to West Wind Pass, a hike that is very worthwhile doing on its own.
From West Wind Pass, the top of that cliff was our ultimate destination. You go far to the right to then hike up the backside of that slope. It looks easy from down here, right?
With an elevation gain of 1000m (that’s 1km straight up!), it was relentless at times, especially once we were up on the scree slopes. But the views made it all worthwhile.
The dogs loved it when we hit bits of snow. They’d roll in it, bite chunks of it and welcome the relief it brought their paws from walking on so much jagged scree!
There were precipitous sections to hike up, but we would eventually be a full 1km straight up above the trail head, and that means lots of climbing. The scree slope was long, dry, rocky and steep!
The saddle between Lougheed Mountain and Windtower was spectacularly dramatic, and looking down from that saddle, into that deep bowl, didn’t faze the dogs at all!
The highlight of the day was the time spent at the very top of the mountain, taking in the 360 views all around. Usually it is impossibly windy up top, so that you can only spend a minute or two, before heading quickly back down. But we had a bluebird sky, not a breath of wind, on a comfortably warm day (17C at the trailhead) and brilliant sunshine.
Up there, we had a long, leisurely picnic, one of our hiking friends made a birthday phone call to a relative (how awesome is that!? “Hey, it’s me. Just wishing you a happy birthday from a mountain top!“) , and then there was my favourite part… lying on my belly, peering down, way d-o-w-n over the edge.
The valley was just greening up, and there were so many animal pathways down there… little highways crossing impossibly rugged terrain.
So this is what the top of a mountain looks like. Rocky. Rugged. With spectacular views! That’s the back of the Three Sisters mountains that I’ve written about before there, along with the town of Canmore, to their right.
What a great day! Just a few short months until the mountain slopes are relatively clear of snow and we can lace up those hikers and bag us some more peaks! I can’t wait….
As one parting note… my daughter knew I loved this hike SO much that for my birthday, as a surprise, she had her favourite photo from this series of shots made into a painting! She commissioned a wonderfully talented friend of hers, Hannah Klose, to paint the cover photo I used for this post, so that I will always remember this experience, this incredible day, and this place. It was such an incredible gift!