We left Edmonton just after 6am on Saturday and arrived at the Black Cat Ranch just after 9:30. Once we had all arrived and had our gear sorted out we headed out from the Mount Solomon trailhead about 10am. It was clear at first arrival there had been a bit of snow fall over the last day or so.
We began the 7 of us ladies but quickly discovered we had different goals for the day. Once we knew we were on the right trail and there was only one way to go, up. We split into two groups based on pace and daily goal. We started climbing and stopped periodically to enjoy the beauty surrounding us. Taking a moment to breathe it all in, the air, the views, the appreciation for life and health.
As we continue up the mountain trail seeking the top. We could hear voices and then saw another group of folks chatting at the junction point. They made way to let us pass and one of the dogs with them begins to follow us. As we pull away from the group I jokingly said “looks like your dog is joining us” and they replied “it’s not our dog. He belongs to the ranch at the bottom of the mountain!” Well Zip as we later found out followed us to the top where Janelle shared her stroopwaffel with him. I wonder how many times a week this black and white Aussie named Zip summits this mountain? Janelle figured he knew that humans had snack breaks at the top and this was a great way to earn food 😂
We left Zip at the top, as others began to summit he was sticking around for more snacks. We headed back down but decided to choose the other trail to make it a loop. We soon realized that this was a terrible idea in the current conditions. The fresh snow had begun to melt and become slippery slush under our feet. Trying to remain in control while on this slippery descent I grabbed a tree trying to slow myself down. As I grabbed the tree my feet twisted under me and I fell into the tree removing a nubbed branch with my right bicep. I steadied myself and did a quick check jacket intact and arm smarted but would be okay aside from a good bruise. We slowed our decent further trying to stay safe on our way down which we accomplished, well mostly.
As we approached the base of the mountain running down the single track. Laura looks back to hear Denise only to turn around and connect her forehead with a downed tree which clotheslined her in a fantastic motion. The thud of her head colliding with the tree seemed to echo through the woods. Luckily she has a hard head, wasn’t knocked out and was seemingly okay. Within only a couple moments of the collision you could see a large lump beginning to grow just above Laura‘s eyebrow. As Janelle has mentioned many times your most important wilderness survival equipment is a buff. Laura removed the buff from around her neck, grabbed a handful of melting snow and quickly made a makeshift ice pack. After a couple minutes of walking we slowly started to run towards the cars again. We changed clothes, refuelled with snacks, checked on Laura, she was fine and took an Advil for the headache.
At this point we decided that if we wanted to try to make all three summits we would have to pick up the pace and not return to the cars until the finish. We agreed to repeat The loop from the bottom junction to save time running the mile back to the car on the flat section.
Now just the four of us we decided to push up the steeper trail to the top and take the gentler less slippery trail on the way down, which was the exact reverse of what we did on the first summit. Although this meant a harder push to get to the top it actually meant that The descent would be runnable. As we headed up the second time you could already see changes in the environment around us. The sun was starting to peek out as we climbed high into the sky. There were several steep climbs mixed with beautiful undulating trail and Lush green moss that carpeted the forest floor poking out through the ever melting snow. Reaching the summit this time I ventured to the lookout bench as Laura scribed a X2 beside all our names in the summit log book. The wind was picking up so we didn’t stay too long.
Heading down again we noted how the trails were starting to get a bit muddy in places. This time taking the longer, gentler route down we found our running legs and cruised to the bottom. Enjoying the views on the way down chatting, laughing and generally just enjoying each other‘s company on a beautiful mountain side. As we returned to the bottom Trail junction. We would pause for only a second to discuss if we would attempt a third summit or call it a day. I noted how quick our previous lap time had been in that manner and thought that without heading back to the cars we could make a good effort back to the top and still have time before dark to complete the third repeat.
After a quick snack it was decided that we would continue with our original goal and push for one more summit. We headed up the third time in the same manner as the last, up the steep, shorter trail; that was melting and becoming ever more slick in the steep climbs, but better up than down when it’s slippery. After a few slips and slides on the climb we had made it back to the junction and knew there was only one last push to the top. It had warmed up several degrees throughout the day and this last climb was the hottest. Because we did not return to the cars after the second summit I only had a small amount of water on me. Thanks to the freshly fallen snow I resorted to eating a couple handfuls of fresh snow to quench my thirst. I pretended it was a root beer slurpee and it was amazing. Reaching the summit for the final time that day a X3 was added beside our names in the logbook and a joyous yell cried out. Wild women of YEG we conquered you Solomon.
Running down the side of the mountain, Solomon had transformed before our very own eyes. Softened under our feet, bent to our will and opened the door to spring. We discovered Stretches of soft dirt trails, sunshine on our faces. Patches of green emerged like spring had awoken to hear our mountain top cries. As the trails flattened out and we ran through the damp forest. the snow and ice from the morning had melted and gave way onto the trail. as we chased each other through the forest we splashed our way through mud and ice puddles, shrieking and laughing like a bunch of little kids. In these moments all the problems of the world disappear and we are free. Seek out those moments in life and when they happen don’t step around the puddle, run through the middle screaming.
Until the next adventure, Go forth and do great things