Summit Elevation (m): 1599
Trip Date: Thursday, April 16, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 250
Round Trip Time (hrs): 2
Total Trip Distance (km): 7
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Probably the most difficult part of hiking Mount Pringle is figuring out how to get to the trailhead and then why you didn’t ask permission to be on what I’m assuming is private land.
Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Hiking)
As I drove my Taco up hwy 40 from hwy 1A towards the turnoff to Richards Road I was struck by the thought that so many hikes and peaks are done for reasons that have nothing to do with either of those two things. I knew that my latest destination had ZERO summit views from reading Matt Clay’s trip report on it. I also knew for a fact that the hiking was not going to be anything to write about – there being no views and lots of silly snow on route as I discovered on Okotoks Mountain on Tuesday. There was no good reason for me to be driving 1.5 hours after work for a 2 hour hike that was likely to suck on almost every level. Yet. Here I was! If nothing else the drive was wonderful and I finally got to find out what was down Richards Road – I’ve driven past it many times on my way to the Ghost Wilderness and Ya Ha Tinda areas. I can honestly say that the best views (by far) on this hike were from the drive. I spent a lot of time looking at Orient Point with fierce winds whipping snow from it’s lofty summit far across the South Ghost River. I was also distracted by so many other memories staring back at me from afar including, Association Peak, End Mountain, Carrot Peak, Devils Head, Phantom Crag, Astral Peak and Ghost Peak.
Ironically, given the Covid-19 lock down and the horrible April weather we’ve been having, I’ve been getting out on more hikes in the past 10 days than I would have without Covid and with much better weather (primarily in the Willow Creek PLUZ)! And this highlights the exact reason for my interest in Mount Pringle for a beautiful Thursday evening solo hike. It wasn’t about the hike or the views, it was about getting out of the house and the city and about doing something within my control. It was about finding a legal way to hike in these strange times of quarantining the healthiest among society rather than the sickest. And yes – there was a tiny part of me that wanted to be like that dead tree on Okotoks Mountain and flip off the rest of the world from the top.
I started my hike at the end of Richards Road near the turnoff to a local ranch and the start of a rather dreary looking track running into a muddy field to the south. I had Matt’s track and planned to be as efficient as possible following his descent route. I experimented with something on this hike, wearing my approach shoes rather than hiking boots with my lightest pair of snowshoes. This was a big mistake. Firstly, the shoes quickly got soaked right through and my feet were freezing despite the t-shirt weather. Secondly, the light ‘shoes aren’t flexible and I noticed the lack of ankle support as I waded and cursed my way through knee deep concrete snow in the meadows. The first section of the hike to the cutline was brutal. The snowpack was completely shot in the warm temps and there was WAY more snow than even I expected! It’s funny how the hills can look dry and then there’s 2 feet of snow in all the valley bottoms and on all the unplowed access roads and cutlines.
When I finally made the cutline there was much less snow and the snow that existed near the top of it was supportive. From here I followed Matt’s GPS track along a gentle, treed ridge to the summit. The forest here was not horrible but not exciting either. I didn’t love it but I didn’t have the best conditions. I find it hilarious that I’m busy making the easiest little front range bumps into full-on workouts by choosing to do them in horrid conditions. Finally I arrived at a high point, completely surrounded by matchstick forest as Matt describes. Ah well. I grunted softly to myself and started following my track back down.
That’s about it. I’m not 100% convinced that I wasn’t on private land part of all of this hike. I would caution you about this. I certainly didn’t see any “no trespassing” signs and was careful when crossing a few barbed wire fences.