Summit Elevation (m): 1628
Trip Date: Thursday, April 09, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 300
Round Trip Time (hrs): 2.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 7
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: The only difficulties here are convincing yourself that the drive from Calgary is worth this bump. Doing it with a shitty spring snow pack only makes its worthiness more questionable.
Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
The spring of 2020 has so far been a complete failure on almost every possible level. Firstly and most obviously there’s Covid-19 which is throwing a giant wrench into things with the shut down of society and thousands of illnesses and deaths. I have thoughts on the pandemic and our response to it. I have thoughts on the closing of parks and recreation areas and the quarantining of the healthy people for the first time in history but I’m not going to write anything more on that here. I did a few rants on my Prairie Mountain blog and I’ll keep it to that. Who really cares what I think in the end anyway right? It is what it is and people reacted to a threat the way they always do – with fear and panic. Hopefully as we move through the next stages of this shit show cooler heads and more logic will appear out of the chaos.
There is more than just Covid-19 that’s taken the fun out of Spring 2020 for Albertans though! There’s also the fact that we’ve had the snowiest and coldest spring I can remember in 20 years here. Finding legal places to do some early season hiking is becoming more than a bit of chore for me but I managed to find a group of summits around the Willow Creek PLUZ which is thankfully still open to hikers as of this blog post anyway. These are a group of front range, unofficial bumps that I would not normally waste time driving to but these are extraordinary times.
Thursday, April 9 was supposed to be the first really nice day of spring with temperatures as high as the mid-teens in places. I decided to take off work an hour early and spend the late afternoon / evening seeing what the Willow Creek PLUZ was all about. The drive down highway 22 was gorgeous as always but I was surprised by the amount of snow along the route. I started getting nervous about leaving the snowshoes at home. I knew that a friend had hiked the same route I was going to attempt on Indian Graves Ridge, but as far as I knew I’d be breaking trail on Stimson Creek Hills. My thoughts were that I would hike both hikes to make the drive more worthwhile.
I was surprised how rough hwy 532 was. It was a bit of a mudfest with huge potholes and rough sections. It felt more like a B grade logging road than a provincial one but it is keeping people home at least. Speaking of which. You know places to hike are getting scarce when you run into two parties on a late afternoon hike in the front ranges 1.5 hours from Calgary! Two hikers were busy hiking a dry ridge to the east while I started up Stimson Ridge. I missed Bob’s little lookout / outlier (it’s not where I marked it on the above map) but managed to find the top without any issues. I have to admit that this little hike is pretty underwhelming. I wouldn’t recommend driving all the way from anywhere just for this one.