On Friday, November 22 2013 I decided to mosey my way down to Sheep River Provincial Park for a shot at a front range peak that had caught my interest when Bob Spirko did it a few years previous. It's been a while since I was down this way and I forgot how striking the peaks in the Sheep River area are - especially on the drive into the park. The weather was a chilly -14 in Calgary but by the time I got to the parking area along the road it was only -2 in a very warm sunshine!
The Gorge Creek road was closed so that added an extra 1km and some height gain to the trip - but it was easy walking so I didn't mind. The weather was glorious and it felt great to be back out after a few weekends of cold and wintry weather stuck in the house. It was pretty darn obvious why the road was closed - the bridge had been decimated in the June floods. I wonder when or if it will be fixed? Obviously there's no active drilling in the area or it would be fixed already... :)
[Starting up the Gorge Creek road on a glorious early winter day.]
[The grassy slope to the ridge starts just after the creek.]
[This is the creek - and the reason the road is closed!]
[Evidence of the June floods is everywhere in the park - anywhere there are creek beds or rivers.]
As I started up the obvious grass slope I noticed a fairly large group just at the top of it. I thought that was strange since there's no obvious trail and I didn't think THAT many people hiked this mountain. I left the snowshoes in the truck after noticing that the slopes were all snow-free on the southwest aspect and this was a good decision for the most part. Once I topped out on the ridge I followed a recently broken trail all the way to the summit. The first part of the ridge is the nicest by far. I found the last 2/3 of the ridge a bit under whelming considering the elevation changes (that's why my total height gain is much more than Bob's) and views. If you don't care about peaks I wouldn't bother going any further than the open ridge - the views don't change much from there anyway and you're in for quite a bit of (easy) bush.
[The grassy slope to the ridge. You can head straight up or go to climber's right and then back left on gentler slopes.]
[Awesome views to the west as I grunt my way up the grassy slope.]
[Not much snow on the ridge.]
[Panorama looking ahead along the ridge. Bluerock Mountain and Mount Burns to the left. ++]
[The cliffs on the west side of the ridge are nice scenery. ++]
[From this point onward the hike isn't the greatest IMHO. Lots of light bushwhacking and the views aren't any better than the initial ones. The summit is quite a ways off yet - lots of elevation changes too.]
[Mount Ware, Rose and Threepoint.]
[Lots of this - it wasn't bad though. There's probably a trail in the summer.]
[The summit is ahead - first some more elevation loss...]
[The other group is already at the summit.]
At the summit I thanked a school group from Black Diamond for breaking my trail before heading back. The weather was gorgeous all day and I loved the views west. This is a short but well worthwhile objective for the off season. The Sheep River road closes December 01 though - so you have to get in there before then.
[Summit pano looking west at Green, Hoffman, Highwood, Shunga-la-she, Burns, Bluerock, Rose, Threepoint, Cornwall, Glasgow and others. ++]
[Bluerock, Rose, Threepoint, Cornwall and Glasgow.]
[Highwood and Shunga-la-she.]
[Bluerock is an impressive front range peak which is on my radar for next year.]
[A warm sun filters through the forest.]