I still wasn't feeling 100% on the last weekend of February 2016. I decided that the forecast was too 'iffy' to try anything too lofty or remote on Sunday, February 28th so I woke up late and once again drove past Okotoks, through Black Diamond and Turner Valley and continued on to Kananaskis Country. Unlike last week though, this time I followed the Sheep River along highway 546 instead of the Highwood along highway 40. The conditions were remarkably spring-like, especially compared to when I did Foran Grade and Windy Point Ridge in late February 2014. Instead of snow and -23, I was presented with practically no snow and 5 degrees!
My destination was Wolf Creek Hills and Channel Ridge, both of which involved a crossing of the Sheep River. Wietse had recently done Blue Ridge in the area and told me that Channel Ridge would be bone dry. He also cautioned me to NEVER hike Blue Ridge since it was brutally boring with no views. :) I hoped the recent warm temps didn't destabilize the Sheep River ice too much.
After parking in the Sandy McNabb picnic area, I headed down to the Sheep River to check out the crossing. The river looked frozen enough, so I tramped across it (gingerly). Thankfully it held just fine and soon I was powering along the Wolf Creek Trail. The trail was well packed and micro spikes would have been helpful on many icy sections. The surprising part was how little snow there was - even in the trees along the trail and on the trail itself. There are a few trails branching off but when I got to the first fence I turned onto the left hand trail (wide track) and followed it to the meadows between Wolf Creek Hill and Mount Dyson.
[Crossing a (mostly!) frozen Sheep River.]
[Ascending the Wolf Creek Trail from the Sheep River. This is by far the most snow / ice I was on all day.]
[Crossing a boggy area (frozen) with some oddly random fencing that accomplishes very little IMHO.]
[Coming out at the meadow between Wolf Creek Hill, Channel Ridge, Blue Ridge and Mount Dyson.]
I was surprised to see an outfitter tent in a stand of trees at the bottom of Wolf Creek Hill but I powered up the small hill, enjoying the incredibly calm morning and great views. I crested the summit with no issues and admittedly felt a bit guilty about claiming this as an official summit until I realized that I did the work (i.e. getting out of a warm, comfy bed on Sunday morning!!) and since it's semi-officially named I could take the credit too... ;) After enjoying a warm cup of Starbucks coffee I turned my attention to the main attraction for the day - Channel Ridge.
[The outfitter's tent at left and Wolf Creek Hill above on the right. Channel Ridge out of sight at right. ++]
[A prominent Chinook arch and surprisingly good views from the lowly Wolf Creek Hill summit. Channel Ridge at far left with Blue Ridge and Dyson to the right of it. ++]
[A lonely tree near the summit with the Chinook arch. Mountains in the distance include Junction and Pyriform.]
[Starting down the SE end of Wolf Creek Hill towards Wolf Creek and the north end of Channel Ridge above.]