Powderface Ridge
a shuttle hike along a meadow-topped ridge in the Elbow Valley


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We decided to hike Powderface Ridge N-S on the recommendation of the book.
This does seem like a good idea, as you get to do the uphilll mostly in the shade, and the downhill in the sun.
The uphill also seems gentler from this angle, though I could see an argument for the opposite direction to save the knee-bashing at the end.
The first part of the trail treks steadily uphilll to Three Trail Pass, where you emerge from the open forest into gorgeous meadow.

Forested first section of the trail.

Laurier and Jeff hike into the meadows.

Pavel reaches the meadows with Nihahi Ridge behind.

Laurier and Jeff check out the map at Three Trail Pass

Wildflowers at the pass.

The view to the west.

Three Trail Pass would have already made the hike worthwhile (and not a bad destination for a group seeking a short route to meadows), but not our destination.
There is a far-North summit of Powderface that the trail doesn't visit which it must contour around to meet the ridge.

Starting up from the pass.

Powderface Ridge from the saddle between North Summit and main ridge.

Laurier, Pavel, and Jeff on an outcropping in the saddle.

When we reached the saddle, we determined that the North Peak was just too close and too tempting to pass up.
The guys decided that a race was in order, so headed off to the summit.

Wildflowers with the North Peak in behind.

Jeff starts off to the North Peak.

Approaching the North Peak...

Showing off on the summit.

Pano from the North Peak.

The lovely North Peak. Also an excellent destination alone.

Heading back down to continue the hike.

Banded Peak and others behind an attractive outcropping on the way down.

From the saddle, we switchback up the north face of the ridge, then the trail contous along the west side of the ridge through meadows full of flowers.

Jeff and Laurier start out from the saddle.

Hiking up the ridge (with a *cloud* in the sky!)

Meadows on the trail along the western slope.

Looking along the trail.

The trail doesn't actually go right along the ridgetop, but it's easy to hike up there if you'd like.
When I realized we weren't reaching the ridge, I headed up for the last section.
The ridgeline is rocky and wouldn't accept much of a trail, but was an interesting enough change.

The trail crests the ridge partway along at a junction where the trail descends the eastern slope to roll along below a cliffband in the forest.
Not wanting to leave the ridge with so much ridge still south of us, we decided to try another route.
We continued along the ridge to the south, and hoped to get past the cliffband to descend when the ridgewalking ran out.
Unfortunately, when we tried to do so, we found the slope no longer cliffed out, but still very steep unpleasant terrain. Lacking more exploration time, we gave up and returned back to the trail. I have since learned that it is actually necessary to continue even further and ascend the southmost top, and then a descent east to the trail is possible.
For general use, I would suggest continuing along the ridge a section as long as the views are good, but then returning and taking the trail.

Hiking the continuing ridge.

Wildflowers and colourful rocks along the ridge.

The Banded Group beyond the ridge.

Another group enjoying the view to west.

We had a snack at the junction, then followed the trail down through the forest.
The forested section was heavily rolling, and pretty boring. I took no photos, and was starting to think that the trail would actually be better as an out-and-back from the north,
rather than bothering to trek through this uninspired forested section.

Junction. The trail continues ahead to north, or right downslope to go south.

The rest of Powderface Ridge to the south.
The trail parallels this, then heads between the ridge and the bump at lower left.

Thankfully, we emerged from the trees into another gorgeous meadow facing south with piles of flowers.

The southern meadows.

Beginning the long descent.

After the meadows, the final descent is long, steep, and treed with no views.
The north route is definitely the more scenic, and if you don't have two cars to shuttle, you only miss one meadow by doing an out-and-back from the north.

Photos taken by Rachel

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