Cherry Hill

Summit Elevation (m): 1760
Trip Date: Sunday, May 24, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 400
Round Trip Time (hrs): 2
Total Trip Distance (km): 6
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your thumb
Difficulty Notes: Don’t do this one via my ascent track – see route map below for a much quicker and better route along my return track. 
Technical Rating: OT3; RE4

As I descended Maverick Hill my phone bleeped at me and through a series of unintended consequences, Dave Salahub ended up sending me off in the direction of Cherry Hill rather than my original plan of tackling Carbondale Hill. Bloody heck David – you’re gonna kill me if you keep this sort of nonsense up my friend… But really, what was I supposed to do? Once Dave suggested it, it seemed silly to waste a minute of this perfect spring day in this place. I knew that there was a road leading up Carbondale Hill thanks to a fire lookout so that wasn’t going to be very challenging. I could descend it in the dark if need be. I quickly Googled “Cherry Hill Scramble” while I had cell service up on Maverick Hill and Dave McMurray’s trip report from 2016 came up. Being in a bit of a hurry and trying to read a trip report on an iPhone screen ended up causing me some route issues on the second objective of my day. More on that later, but as I peered at maps on my phone I realized something else that excited me. It looked like the Tapay Road forked just before splitting into the Adanac (north) and Carbondale (west) roads and went south over the Carbondale River. This would be a very handy shortcut to Carbondale Hill and would save me a ton of extra driving after doing Cherry Hill! This realization would also cause me route issues on my third objective of the day. But more on that later too! I finished my Ginger / Maverick hike and drove further into the wild along Napay and then the Carbondale Road just past the Lynx Creek Campground where I parked just before the bridge over a raging Carbondale River.

Cherry Hill Route Map – do NOT follow the north line of my track!! Also note that the labeled summit is WRONG. It is not the high point. Also note that my “Better Route?” line involves a crossing of Lost Creek which is why nobody seems to do it.

As I prepared to hike up Cherry Hill from the Carbondale Road I re-read Dave’s report. It was a bit confusing – no fault of his of course – I can be an idiot when it comes to directions. See my previous trip from a few hours previous for more on that. Dave mentions “following the SW contour of the mountain” but I read it as “ridge” instead of “contour” and that screwed me up quite a bit. Never matter. I charged off for the distant hill, confident that I wouldn’t get lost a second time in a row. I kept muttering to myself that hills are never an issue – they are too small to cause problems. They might be slightly annoying or confusing but no way was I admitting that a “hill” got me lost or tired. Not gonna happen. Cherry gave it a good effort though!

Cherry Hill from the Carbondale Road. Seems easy enough – go straight up right? WRONG. Go left to the far SE ridge before ascending. The summit is NOT visible here yet.

I followed fairly open meadows through an old clear cut towards the obvious hill above to my left. I knew I had to focus on a more southerly route to avoid the horrible burn that Dave mentioned running into in his report. I assumed from my vantage that I was looking at the summit of Cherry and therefore assumed the deadfall was more north of my approach. I was wrong on both accounts. There was a number of trails to follow up to the line of low cliffs above and I picked one and went for it. Eventually I ended up on some matchsticks but it was no big deal and soon I was following an obvious goat path through the steep cliffs above.

Lanceleaf Springbeauty.

My heart plunged out of my brand new Fjallraven hiking pants when I saw what greeted me at the cliff top. O. M. G. Totally uncool. A sea of matchsticks was calling my name, taunting me with their sharp jabs of derision at my second route finding fail of the day. I almost turned back but I’m not built that way. Once again, there was no way a mere “hill” was going to cause me pause, much less failure. Not. Going. To. Happen. So I did what I do best, “don’t overthink it” and “one foot in front of the other until it’s done”. And before I knew it, it was done! It only took me around 25 minutes to negotiate the terrible fallen mess of trees but I got lucky with dry sticks and a good sense of balance or it would have taken MUCH longer.

Following a goat path through the cliffs.
Yeah… This wasn’t a top 10 moment, I can assure you of that.

Views from Cherry Hill are quite spectacular. In line with other lower summits that I’ve been on over the years, often times they have the best views. I remember being somewhat disappointed with the summit view on Mount Columbia, simply because everything else looked so small and far away! An interesting tidbit on Cherry Hill is that the marked summit and high point on most topo maps is incorrect. The high point is where I went and is where the true summit is. Don’t get all silly on me and start claiming that lower outlier as the real summit because cartographers screw up all the time and this is one of those. Don’t overthink it.

Summit views from Cherry Hill towards the Flathead Range at left and Hastings Ridge and the Blairmore Range at center right.
A great panorama from the summit includes McCarty (L), Hollebeke, Centre, Darrah S2, Darrah, Darrah N2, Pengelly, McGladrey, Ptolemy SE5 and Coulthard (R).

After snapping photos and cooling off from my steamy response to the aforementioned matchstick crapfest it was time to find a better descent route. It wasn’t that hard. I descended slightly south before doing a sharp left turn onto the SE ridge descending about half way down past all the fallen trees. From about half way down the SE ridge I contoured east (left) towards my ascent line which I easily followed back to the truck.

The SE ridge (L) is where you should come up and go down. My alternate suggestion crosses Lost Creek from the Carbondale Road at lower right.
Acres and acres of Shooting Star flowers.

Cherry Hill is not destined to be one of the greats. But it’s a thing with a high point – possibly even an official “summit” that’s not the one you hike to. And you can never have too many of those on your bucket list. Can you?

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