Jack & Jill Hill

Summit Elevation (m): 1555
Trip Date: Sunday, April 22, 2018
Elevation Gain (m): 300
Round Trip Time (hr): 2
Total Trip Distance (km): 7.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1 – you fall, you’re stupid
Difficulty Notes: No difficulties other than navigating a myriad of route possibilities and possibly early season wood ticks and / or Grizzlies.
Technical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

Since it was a gorgeous day and it only took me approximately 2 hours to bag my first summit of the day, I figured I might as well wander up a couple more summits before heading back to the concrete jungle. I drove a few kms back along Maclean Creek trail (hwy 549) before parking near another well site belonging to Pengrowth, along yet another access road. I chose to leave the snowshoes in the truck for this hike, and proceeded up the road in very pleasantly warm sunshine.

Jack & Jill Route Map

I was questioning my choice to leave the ‘shoes behind as I forked off the main (dry) road and started up an icy / snowy side track leading towards the lower Jack Hill. Thankfully this side road was mainly icy and I was following tracks which held up in the cool shade. It was only as I paid more attention to the tracks that I realized a pretty big Grizzly had made them!!

I have to admit to pausing a few moments to consider the odds of running into the large bruin and how much I felt like a solo bear encounter on this otherwise lovely, peaceful day. Hiking solo has its perks, but also major downsides – getting mauled by a hungry bear just done hibernating being among the biggest of these. Ah well. If I turned back on every hike with fresh bear tracks I wouldn’t be nearing 600 summits would I? It was one of those “suck it up and keep walking” moments, so that’s what I did. After a slight height loss, I finally started up Jack’s Hill on bare grass.

Looking south (L) and west (R) including Mesa Butte at right with Death’s Head to it’s left. Sinnot hill somewhere left of center here.

I thought it was interesting that the views from Jack’s Hill were much better than Death’s Head as I easily crested the summit and looked back. I didn’t linger too long in the warm sunshine, as I knew I’d be back on snow towards the higher Jill’s Hill to the north. I was right about the snow to Jill’s Hill! Thankfully it still held my weight for the most part (even without snowshoes), at least until I found myself wallowing knee to crotch deep right at the col and for the first part up Jill’s Hill.

That sucked a bit, but was so short it didn’t really matter. My head was still on a bit of a swivel as I followed sheep detritus up Jill’s Hill – I really didn’t want to run into a recent Griz kill or anything. Thankfully that didn’t happen and soon I was enjoying the view from just under the high point, which I tagged and returned to the lower point for the better views.

Views down the south ridge towards Jack’s Hill with Mesa (Square) Butte at right.

After a nice break in warm sunshine and very little wind I decided to trek back. I descended the south ridge of Jill’s Hill before taking a 90 degree turn to my right and intersecting another exploration road running through the valley to the west. (There were no obvious trails on either hill – just a very faint track in the grass that could have been from the many ungulates in the area.) I followed the network of roads back to my approach track, which I followed back to the dry road and my waiting truck. I was tempted to add a fourth summit to the day with a hike up Sinnot Hill, but the amount of snow and the warm air around me kept me from this plan.

All in all, it was a great spring day in the foothills. There’s still more snow out there than I’ve usually experienced in later April but the fresh air and exercise hasn’t changed any. I highly recommend these hikes as training days or short afternoon / evening rambles in the summer when bigger objectives might not be feasible.

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