After skiing up Healy Pass Peak the day before, I decided to take the family on a snowshoeing trip on Sunday, December 15 in preparation for our trek to the Elk Lakes ACC hut in one week. Bob Spirko indicates that the elevation gain is only around 300 meters on Gypsum Ridge so I figured this was a good candidate to bag a peak and get the family out. I also liked the fact that we'd be in the trees because the day was shaping up to be fairly cloudy and windy - but warm.
On the drive out to k-country the wind was absolutely howling! I was kind of grumpy about it - worrying that it may just ruin our day. I was also wondering if the creek would be frozen over, because I knew that if it wasn't we'd be stuck 'shoeing around the Kent Ridge logging roads.
After parking just past the bridge along the Spray Lakes road, where Marko's GPS track indicated, we put on the 'shoes and immediately found an old 'shoe track going down the ditch towards the creek! This was fantastic news - we followed these tracks right to the summit and it certainly made our day a lot easier and shorter. The creek was completely frozen over, which was nice. The elevation gain was substantially more than Bob indicated. My fairly accurate Suunto altimeter watch put the total elevation gain at over 600 meters for the day - so we certainly got more of a workout than I originally bargained for. The bushwhacking was nowhere near as bad as Mount Kidd Junior - thank goodness.
The trail was bushier than expected on the upper ridge but the views were actually quite good from just past the summit bump. The kids almost blew off the ridge in a furious gust of wind so we didn't linger long. The 'shoe back down was very quick in unconsolidated sugary snow.
[The ridge from the road.]
[Crossing a frozen Smith Dorrien Creek.]
[The trail is bushy but not horrible.]
[Hanneke enjoying the day out.]
[Crossing the first road - I believe you can take this up from the lower lake too.]
[We had to walk about 150 meters up the road before the trail peeled off to climber's right again.]
[A good track helped immensely in the loose, sugary, unconsolidated snow pack.]
[Some views up the Spray Lakes road.]
[Lower Kananaskis Lake comes into view, briefly.]
[Hanneke on the high point - it's worth continuing to the view point from here.]
[Traversing to the viewpoint. ++]
[More of the traverse to the high point - some will not like the exposure to the right. Opal range to the left and Lower Kananaskis Lakes to the right. ++]
[Looking over the Spray Lakes road towards Mount Kent and Little Lawson.]
[Great view over the Lower Kananaskis Lakes area - Indefatigable on the right. ++]
[Vern and KC on the viewpoint of Gypsum Ridge.]
[Hanneke on the view point. ++]
[Looking over King Creek Ridge at the Opal Range, including Mount Hood.]
[Negotiating thicker trees on the upper ridge.]