Summit Elevation (m): 2544
Trip Date: Friday, July 03, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 900m
Round Trip Time (hr): 5.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 22
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1/2 – you fall, you sprain something – probably your ego.
Difficulty Notes: No difficulties. There is a trail 98.3% of the way. Aunt Edna could do this one with a cup of tea in one hand.
Technical Rating: TL2 / OT2; RE2
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
As Friday July 3rd approached, it looked like once again the weather gods were smiling on those of us with an extra long weekend planned. (As long as we didn’t have outdoor plans for Saturday that is.) Wietse and I have long planned an ascent of Gibraltar Mountain via Mist Ridge as per Andrew and Jose and this plan finally bubbled to the top of our list and became the first pair of objectives for July 2020. We agreed to meet at 06:30 at Wietse’s house. Andrew and Kevin had taken well over 15 hours way back in November 2004 and Jose had completed the trip in 12.5 hours in 2016. We counted on anywhere from 11 to 13 hours when estimating our trip, knowing that we’d likely beat that time but you never know. ASIDE: Speaking of times and scrambles, lately I’ve come to realise that many folks think that it’s me pushing the pace on trips that I post. Watch the last 5 or 6 videos I’ve made and you’ll notice a clear trend to the opposite. Who’s always in front when I go hiking with Wietse and / or Phil? It ain’t me! I’m too busy taking pictures of flowers and other stuff to be in front. I always find myself increasing my pace to catch up to these speedy guys. #spreadtheblame #itsnotme #speedhiking
We decided to park at the Mist Creek day use area instead of along hwy 40 for some reason (this adds ~1km to the day). To our surprise we weren’t the first ones leaving the parking lot. Another couple was just ahead of us. It was their 3rd time up Mist Ridge – a favorite hike of theirs. We wouldn’t see them again until the summit – they were speedy! The trail starts out along the junction of the Highwood River and Mist Creek and crosses hwy 40 before ascending through forest and a short section of bog as the “Mist Creek Trail”. We ascended the trail to a signed junction pointing up Mist Creek for the Mist Creek Trail and no indication where the right branch went. We went right as we knew this led to Mist Ridge – I have no idea why this isn’t signed. We passed the old logging road leading up between the two south outliers of Mist Ridge before dropping down to a feeder creek and hopping across it. Incidentally if you’re like me and don’t like to carry a lot of water, this is the last place to fill up for many hours and I could see this small stream drying up with a lack of snow melt or fresh rain water. I carried 750ml of water from the car in anticipation of a lack of running water on route, which is a lot for me.
After hiking around 4.5km and crossing the feeder creek the trail ascended more consistently towards the south end of Mist Ridge. Finally after just over 6km of hiking we followed the trail west across the south end of Mist Ridge and up to a shallow pass with great views of Mist Mountain and north up Mist Creek towards Rickert’s Pass. There was a trail leading on from this spot but it seemed to be heading down which made us suspicious. Instead of following it we hiked open grass and wildflower slopes to the south summit of Mist Ridge instead. This is apparently the regular route – I’m not sure why the trail ends here? We speculated that perhaps it contours the ridge, avoiding the big height loss ahead but we still aren’t sure of that.
From the south end of Mist Ridge we followed the trail as it wound its way along the crest and dipped down every once in a while to the west side bypassing some unnecessary bumps. There was one significant height loss after the 8km mark that took us by surprise. The ridge was gorgeous with countless wildflowers along the way and spectacular views of Mist, Storm, Rae, Burns, Gibraltar and many other unnamed summits. Finally after a good 3 hours of brisk hiking we reached the highest north summit of the ridge and took in the rest of our day.
I highly recommend this hike for fit hikers who don’t mind putting in some work for excellent views. I also recommend saving this hike for a nice summer or fall day so that you can enjoy the long stretches above tree line, exposed to the elements. There is a return route (see Bob Spirko) via Rickert’s Pass and the Mist Creek trail that would make for a nice loop if you’re not continuing on to Gibraltar Mountain like we were.