Meeting a Grizzly Bear on Centennial Ridge

Chelsea Scott

Why I had to hike up the mountain twice and slide down a ski run on my butt.

Yesterday I worked an early shift and got off at 3pm, so I decided that I had enough time to hit one of my favourite trails: Centennial Ridge. Centennial Ridge is a beautiful trail that starts from the Ribbon Creek trailhead and takes you up Mt. Allan, where you summit Olympic peak and then walk a ridge line over to the summit Mt. Allan. If you hike the whole trail, you end up in Dead Mans Flats, off of the trans-Canada highway. It is closed from April 15th - June 21st every year to allow for Rocky Mountain Sheep lambing. So since yesterday was the first day the trail was open, it was the perfect opportunity for me to hike it. I had the trail almost to myself, only encountering three other groups along the trail, they were all headed down while I was headed up. I did however have some company in the form of a bear. On my way back down the trail (after summiting Olympic Peak) I ran into a grizzly bear on the trail. I yelled at the bear to see if I could get it to run off, since it was blocking the trail (yes, I had bear spray, but I didn't want to use it since the bear was not being aggressive. He was just being a bear and I was in his territory, I respect that). The bear didn't move and I was left to hike back up the mountain, and hike my butt back down one of Nakiska's ski runs (Nakiska is the local ski hill here, it was built for the 1988 Olympics and is on one side of Mt. Allan). 

The ski run was pretty steep in some places and over grown with long, slippery crab grass, which left me to slide down on my butt in some sections. I was in shorts, so I ended up with paper-like cuts all down my backside. I finally made it down to the bottom, having added about 2 hours to my hike. I am happy I respected the bears space, and it was well worth hiking up the mountain twice, despite the grass cuts. 

Even with the bear encounter, it was an amazing hike with incredible views. The wildflowers here are out in abundance and it was incredible to watch the species of flowers change as I hiked higher and higher. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone visiting the area!

Published: June 24, 2016

Chelsea Scott

My name is Chelsea Scott and I am a firefighter/guide/photographer/writer (yes, I’m busy) who calls Kananaskis, Alberta home.
 I am originally from Belleville, Ontario but have lived all over Ontario, having...

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