David Thompson Country
Time: 3 1/2 hours
Distance: 6.3 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 851 m
How To Get There: Turn right off highway 11 when you are headed west. It's about 2 km's off the highway, leave the highway when you see the Cline's waste dump. Park at the end of the short road.
Once you've parked at the Waste Transfer Site, you simply follow up a wide and obvious gravel trail that sits to the east of the parking lot.
The trail ascends up through a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees. The path itself is filled with a mixture of pine needles and orphaned stones.
The thing about Vision Quest is you need to work for the views almost the entire time. It doesn't take long before you're moving up lose gravel, the trees subsiding to a heavily braided area that is basically a hiker's free for all. There are numerous trails weaving their way up this section and it's obvious that a lot of people have cut their own path in an attempt to make the ascent a little easier.
When I looked back behind me, I was immediately treated with a reward of Abraham Lake being briefly lit up by the winter's struggling sun.
As I moved upwards without a switchback in sight, I found myself slowly moving to the east of the ridge. Gravel turned to rockier surface and soon I was walking in and along side spots of snow. The elevation is gained very quickly on this trail.
It took me less than half an hour to reach the famed Vision Quest portion. It's obviously marked by modern humans hanging red flag fabric on the trees above.
Several others have taken to setting up fire pits in the area. The site sits on level bench in the rock and was once an old vision quest site for the Stoney (thus the name of the ridge).
After taking in the tranquility of the moment, I continued on upwards. The climb is unrelenting and the snow became deeper and deeper the higher I climbed.
I continued to stay close to the east of the ridge as it was the straightest shot to the top. The best part about staying to that side provided a non stop view of the lake below.
As I moved, I came across several fossilized brachiopod, which was a nice surprise.
Getting to the top was a challenge on it's own, as I eventually found myself waste deep in the cold wet stuff. Limber Pines kept me company almost the entire time.
Scrambling up some large scree brought me up the rock face until I reached the false summit, marked by a small cairn.
The wind was bitterly cold at the top and as I glanced at the highest point of the ridge, I decided that reaching the summit would have to wait for another day.
There was too much snow to safely keep going up. So I settled for a few more pictures at the cairn and then began to toboggan on my butt for the journey downwards.
A hike that makes you work every second to reach the top, it provides gorgeous views of Abraham Lake, Mount Abraham, Elliot Peak, Sentinal Mountain and Mount Michener almost the whole way. If you're looking for a challenge, try Vision Quest!