Okotoks Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 1576
Trip Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 225
Round Trip Time (hrs): 1.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 6
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: The most difficult thing about Okotoks Mountain is figuring out how to get permission to cross the private land necessary to bag it and then driving the rough country roads to get to the start of the hike.
Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps

If you squint at the photo headlining this blog post it looks like the dead tree is giving the finger to whoever cares enough to notice it. This was an exact reflection of my general attitude over the Easter long weekend of April 2020. I imagined the tree was me giving the bird to Covid-19 and the brutal weather after completing 7 new “summits” in the Willow Creek PLUZ and 3 repeats of Prairie Mountain on a weekend that saw most Albertans locked inside their houses. I figured I might as well bag an 8th new peak on the Tuesday after the weekend just because I could. So I did.

Okotoks Mountain Route Map. Please note that you MUST OBTAIN PERMISSION to cross PRIVATE land on this route.

Okotoks Mountain is only on my blog for one reason – it’s an official summit that nearly everyone I know has ascended lately for some damn reason other than seeking excitement. Because it’s not in a park, Okotoks isn’t covered by any of the silly Covid-19 restrictions that are busy quarantining the healthiest members of society while telling us all to “be happy at home” while somehow we’re supposed to be building herd immunity… Don’t get me started on how fear-based policy has likely screwed us financially and mentally for the foreseeable future. I’m trying not to rant too much on here about such matters. Using cryptic remarks and a link on Sonny Bou’s site, I figured out who to email regarding access to the private land I’d be crossing to bag this minor hill. This was my second attempt at emailing Tom and this time he responded right away and I made plans for Tuesday, April 14.

I knew from friends who’d recently done it that I should bring my snowshoes for this trip. I didn’t pay much attention to the approach road while planning but I probably should have. As I drove to the trailhead from Turner Valley I was struck by how rough, muddy and wet the road was in places! I was sure happy to have 4×4 for it. I seem to be driving a lot of shitty roads lately but that probably explains why I’m not seeing any other hikers. Maybe I should stick to objectives with shitty roads? It’s a thought. I finally arrived at the very nondescript parking area along the road and pondered why Sonny chose this place to start rather than driving a bit further west and tackling the north ridge directly? Oh well – this objective was easy enough so a few extra km wouldn’t hurt.

Views from the south end of Okotoks Mountain.

I was immediately glad for the ‘shoes as I hiked along old snowshoe tracks (from the aforementioned friends) on 1-2 feet of old and fresh snow. There were weird three-toed tracks all over the place as I started across meadows towards the hill. They were about as big as my fist – way too big for prairie chickens. I still have no idea what those dinosaur tracks were doing there but I felt a bit naked without my usual hunting knife at my side. Classic move on my part – underestimating a small objective! Sonny never mentioned this in his report either. There is nothing else very interesting about this objective. My left snowshoe broke just before the going got steep. Thankfully the one remaining rivet held up for the rest of the trip or I might have had issues. The summit ridge was longer than expected, the views were about as underwhelming as expected.

I think this tree is giving the middle finger at a number of things. Covid, the weather and life in general right now. I couldn’t agree more.

There’s nothing else to say here. I enjoyed the “finger tree” way more than I should have. I enjoyed the drive back along the rapidly deteriorating approach road way less than that. I’ve now been there and “done that” and will never go back for this particular oddity. The ridges on either side look interesting though…

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