I sat in my Jeep at the trailhead looking up at the ridge we were planning on hiking that afternoon. (Parker Ridge had been on our list of hikes since we “discovered” it a few years back when we took a road trip down the Icefields Parkway.) I knew this was going to be the hardest hike that I’ve done due to the elevation change, (as we start in the high elevation zone at 2,019 meters) and was trying to pump myself up to make the attempt in making it to the top.
Neighbouring vehicles came and left as I tried talking myself in (and out) of going. At one point I was pretty sure that I was not going to, and that the view from the Jeep was good enough (no, it wasn’t). But I didn’t just drive five hours to sit in a parking lot and stare at Parker Ridge, I came here to hike it.
I got out of the Jeep and breathed in that crisp, cool mountain air. Even though it was the beginning of July, it was still chilly. (There were even people snowboarding on the remaining patches of snow) I laced up my hiking boots, put on my puffy jacket and backpack and made my way down the trail and up Parker Ridge to experience one of the most incredible hikes I’ve hiked so far.
I haven’t reached high altitude (other than driving down the Icefields Parkway) since Wilcox Pass (and that was a real fun experience) so I knew that I needed to take this hike slow.
(High altitude is 2,000 meters (6,600 ft) above sea level, and can affect anyone. Some more so than others)
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It was a tough and steady climb, switchbacks after switchbacks increasing in altitude all the way to the top. Thankfully the views were already amazing so I stopped often to take photos (and slow down). I did bring my Boost Oxygen with me to take when needed (this stuff is amazing), ate some Shot Bloks to keep my electrolytes up, and of course drank plenty of water.
Getting above the treeline went relatively quick, and the views opened up to see down to the Icefields Parkway. My Jeep was just a tiny little speck so far down in the parking lot. I slowly started to feel the affects of altitude, so I pulled out my GPS to check what elevation we were at (as I want to keep track of exactly where I start to feel weird from altitude on all my hikes). We were currently at 2,143 meters.
By the time we had reached the top of the ridge, we were at 2,256 meters. I felt a little weird but nothing too major. We walked along the ridge for a bit, enjoyed the stunning landscape, took some photos and headed back down. The views were breathtaking!
Heading down was really quick. On the walk down, I realized that not once during the hike giving up or regretting the hike crossed my mind. Not physically or mentally. Which is actually kind of amazing because I frequently get in my own head when doing something hard (but do-able) So even just this alone, I was so damn proud of myself. This gives me much more confidence in my abilities, and makes me so excited to tackle other hikes that could push me out of my comfort zone.
More information on Parker Ridge Trail can be found on AllTrails.
Please leave no trace when enjoying the outdoors!