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Jack & Jill Hills

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)
Mapwhat3words


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. 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!!

Jack & Jill Route Map

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.

Jack & Jill Hill
Looking back over Maclean Creek trail from where I parked. Death's Head at distant right and Sinnot Hill at distant left here.
Looking back over Maclean Creek trail from where I parked. Death's Head at distant right and Sinnot Hill at distant left here.
The initial road is wide and obviously cleared of snow but there's still an alarming amount of the white stuff beside it. I wondered if I'd have to go back to my truck for the 'shoes.
The initial road is wide and obviously cleared of snow but there's still an alarming amount of the white stuff beside it. I wondered if I'd have to go back to my truck for the 'shoes.
The side trail is covered in snow and ice but thankfully there's tracks and it's still pretty frozen.
The side trail is covered in snow and ice but thankfully there's tracks and it's still pretty frozen.
Starting up the grassy SW end of Jack's south ridge, looking over at Mesa Butte which I ascended in February 2014.
Starting up the grassy SW end of Jack's south ridge, looking over at Mesa Butte which I ascended in February 2014.
Easy grassy slopes and NO SNOW!!
Easy grassy slopes and NO SNOW!!
Easy grassy slopes and NO SNOW!!
Easy grassy slopes and NO SNOW!!
Nice front range scenery in this view west to the higher Mesa (Square) Butte.]
Nice front range scenery in this view west to the higher Mesa (Square) Butte.]
Final slope to the treed summit.
Final slope to the treed summit.
Looking back down the south ridge with the cutline that I approached on visible at lower center.
Looking back down the south ridge with the cutline that I approached on visible at lower center.
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.
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.
The obvious forms of Banded and Glasgow peaks.
The obvious forms of Banded and Glasgow peaks.
A tele-pano looking west towards peaks such as Burns, Bluerock, Cougar, Rose, Threepoint and others.
A tele-pano looking west towards peaks such as Burns, Bluerock, Cougar, Rose, Threepoint and others.
Wading through the suck in the valley between Jack and Jill's Hill.
Wading through the suck in the valley between Jack and Jill's Hill.
Wading through the suck in the valley between Jack and Jill's Hill.
Wading through the suck in the valley between Jack and Jill's Hill.
Huge trees had blown over in this little valley - strange that none of the smaller ones seemed affected?
Huge trees had blown over in this little valley - strange that none of the smaller ones seemed affected?
Out of the suck and heading up Jill's open and dry south ridge.
Out of the suck and heading up Jill's open and dry south ridge.
The highest point on Jill's Hill is still a bit treed - the views are better just under the summit.
The highest point on Jill's Hill is still a bit treed - the views are better just under the summit.
Views down the south ridge towards Jack's Hill with Mesa (Square) Butte at right.
Views down the south ridge towards Jack's Hill with Mesa (Square) Butte at right.
Arg. Back in snow on return to my approach track via a wide road. Thankfully the snow wasn't too deep.
Arg. Back in snow on return to my approach track via a wide road. Thankfully the snow wasn't too deep.
Warm sun == muddy roads.
Warm sun == muddy roads.
Hmmm. That's a pretty large sized bear print I've been following.
Hmmm. That's a pretty large sized bear print I've been following.

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