After a long and tougher-than-expected approach the day before, I woke up on Saturday, September 24 after a night of rain and snow shower, with the plan to hike a local ridge I'd noticed on the map called "Chucks Ridge", followed by a scramble up Sunburst Peak. Both of these objectives are located near the Lake Magog campground and both of them could presumably be done with some snow.
After a breakfast of instant oatmeal and Starbucks instant coffee I packed my light day pack and headed off towards Sunburst and Cerulean Lakes along a good trail leading out of camp to the north. It was slowly developing into a nice day, especially compared to the gloomy weather the day previous. I was happy to see the weather forecast coming true with its prediction of clearing skies. I enjoyed some really nice scenes around Sunburst Lake and Elizabeth Rummel's cabin before continuing on towards Cerulean and Elizabeth Lakes (yes - everything in this area is named after Elizabeth, "Lizzie" Rummel).
[Another great trail - although pretty wet - leads towards Sunburst Lakes.]
[Great views of Sunburst Peak and Sunburst Lake.]
[A dedication to Lizzie Rummel.]
[Lizzie Rummel's cabin at Sunburst Lake.]
[An old cellar, located just uphill from Lizzie's cabin.]
As usual, I was alone on the trail as I hiked past Cerulean Lake and up a small rise before finally hiking down towards a partially hidden Elizabeth Lake. As I hiked down to the lake, I tried to identify exactly where I was and where the summit of "Chucks Ridge" was. I figured out pretty quickly that I must be looking at part of the Nublet and Nub Peak to the east and north of Elizabeth Lake, with Chucks Ridge located somewhere to the NW. What made things slightly more confusing was that the trail labeled "Chucks Ridge" only traverses the lower ridge, not gaining a summit. As the trail dropped to Elizabeth Lake, I crossed a bridge and came to a junction. The left hand branch led to Lizzie Meadows and the less traveled one indicated Chucks Ridge. As usual, I followed the less traveled trail. :)
[A panorama of Cerulean Lake and Sunburst Peak. ++]
[Heading up a shallow draw between Cerulean and Elizabeth Lakes.]
[Heading down towards Elizabeth Lake. I didn't realize it at the time, but the summit of Chucks Ridge is at center here.]
[Elizabeth Lake at right with Chucks Ridge at left and the Nublet at right. Nub Peak is out of sight at center. At this point I suspected the summit was either the one at left or the one directly above the lake, which was certainly higher. Click to view a route line (red) that I briefly considered before moving on and doing the left hand ridge (green). ++]
Because I wasn't 100% sure of exactly where the summit of Chucks Ridge was, I decided to follow the official trail and see if things would become more clear. Surprisingly enough, this worked! As the trail wound it's way towards the west end of the ridge, I realized that it would not lead me to the summit. At an obvious clearing, just before a small dip in the trail, I turned back and started heading directly up scree slopes to what I assumed would be the summit. There were no signs of human tracks or trails as I scrambled up the lower ridge, which made me very nervous. If there's one thing I've learned in the Mount Assiniboine area, it's that every peak should have a trail beaten into the scree. Apparently Chucks Ridge is an exception. I worked my way up towards the first set of obstacles - low cliff bands and huge boulders blocking the ridge.
[The Chucks Ridge official trail is just in the trees at bottom right here and I've started back to the east, up the west end of the ridge to the summit.]
[The lower ridge is easy scrambling on scree and grass slopes - made a bit slick by the fresh snow.]
[Not as easy as expected!]
The scrambling from the first set of boulders / cliff bands to the summit was unexpectedly fun. I was expecting a pretty boring trudge to the top but I got interesting route finding and moderate scrambling instead. Every time I thought I might be up against an impassible barrier, I managed to find a way up, around or through it. The views in every direction improved with each meter of height gain until finally I grunted my way up the last, steep crux step and onto a surprisingly flat summit.
The views were unexpectedly nice from this insignificant peak and I spent some time enjoying them before deciding it was time to head back down.
[Excellent views over Elizabeth Lake. One unfortunate side effect of hiking west of the lakes was the bad reflection angle of the morning sun.]
[More interesting terrain.]
[This is getting fun!]
[This is why it's called a "ridge" - looking back down the west end of Chucks Ridge. The hiking trail goes along the spine of the ridge before dropping down to the right towards Nestor Creek.]
[Certainly beyond hiking or even easy scrambling.]
[The angle eases off a bit to the summit.]
[Views north off the summit include Nub Peak at right and Nestor Peak at left. Interestingly, the nice large peak at center seems to be unnamed. ++]
[There is a trail in the scree leading up from Elizabeth Lake to Nub Peak with the Nublet at far right. Coming up Chucks Ridge from the col with Nub Peak looks like more than scrambling.]
[Telephoto of Wedgwood Lake beneath Mount Watson.]
[Looking west towards Indian Peak with Ferro Creek / Pass Trail leading up to the right in the valley on the east side of it.]
[Mount Sam is not climbed very often, I bet!]
[A great shot of Chucks Ridge in the foreground and The Marshall and Mount Watson on the left. Sam, Octopus and Indian Peak at center and right.]
[Lots of fresh snow on Wonder Peak, far to the SE.]
[Nice views over Cerulean, Sunburst and Magog Lakes towards The Towers, Naiset Point and Terrapin Mountain (L to R).]
[A wider view includes Elizabeth Lake in the foreground and Mount Magog and Sunburst Peaks at right.]
[A summit panorama looking east and south towards Nub Peak, the Nublet, Elizabeth Lake, Sunburst Peaks, The Marshall, Mount Watson and Indian Peak (L to R) with Chucks Ridge in the foreground at right. ++]
[It may be an insignificant peak but the drop north, down into the Nestor Creek Valley is precipitous.]
[The Marshall is an impressive peak located to the SW. Coney Lake is the tiny tarn visible at center bottom.]
My descent was easier than expected - I wasn't sure how tricky some of the steps I'd ascended would be. Being 6 feet tall certainly helps in these situations! As indicated on the map, I took a slight shortcut back to the trail on the south side of the ridge near my scrambling starting point. I was feeling pretty good after this very scenic and unexpectedly fun and challenging little scramble. I turned back to the Lake Magog Campground to grab some lunch before tackling my second objective for the day - Sunburst Peak.
[Coming down some of the ridge sections was 'interesting'.]
[Another steep, loose step on the ridge.]
[A fun keyhole section that I avoided on climber's right.]
[The keyhole on the left and my route on the right. Both are upper moderate scrambling.]
[Back on the official trail heading towards Elizabeth Lake. The snow is melting today.]
[Looking back at Chucks Ridge from the Elizabeth Lake outlet stream.]
[Wonderful trail scenery above Elizabeth Lake.]
[The Marshall looms ominously over Cerulean Lake.]
[The big "A" shows up over the shoulder of Sunburst Peak.]
[A great view of Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak from the shoreline of Cerulean Lake.]