I have received a few emails and comments about my .gpx files that I've been busily adding to all my trip reports over the past few months (almost done). The main issue people are having is that unlike most sites, I am not usually providing you with a GPS track but rather with a GPS route. The basic difference is that a track is where you've already been and a route is where you're planning to go.
Route files are much smaller than tracks because they only contain major waypoints. My route files are actually quite detailed compared to most. See this article for more details. I am planning on writing a blog article on how to use my GPS route files with either Garmin or iPhone devices. If you use ViewRanger on an iPhone the files should just work fine if you upload them as a new route.
I've been asked many times for a list of my top 10 hikes, backpacking trips, scrambles, climbs and so forth. I thought about it for a bit and decided that it would be best to separate my top 10 lists into several categories, so here goes. Please note that I will update these lists as I continue to find "better" options. ;)
While in the area, and with plenty of time left after climbing Racehorse Peak (and the "Pony" extension), we decided that we might as well bag another unofficial peak near Racehorse Pass. We turned our attention to the straightforward Mount Racehorse - as defined creatively by Bob Spirko and Sonny Bou when they bagged it back in 2014.
After spending the previous two weeks in various stages of fall throughout the Rockies, I was almost ready to return to work on September 29, 2016 when Wietse texted me, asking if I wanted to bag a peak? Let's see. Go back to work or bag a peak? Hmmm. That decision wasn't really a decision so much as an instinct.
To make up for my partial failure on the Cautley Traverse, I decided to go for the summit of The Towers. I hiked up a shallow draw immediately north of Wonder Peak, towards Wonder Pass and was soon scouting the lower route up The Towers. Something I didn't realize at first, was that the skyline east ridge is not the scramble route.
After being turned around on a traverse from Mount Cautley to Gibraltar Rock and somehow completely screwing up where Cascade Rock was, I started the traverse south from the summit of Cautley, heading towards Ely's Dome and what I thought was the traverse from it, to Cascade Rock. Confused yet? Apparently, so was I...
I woke up on Sunday, September 25 2016 in the Lake Magog Campground and poked my head out of my tent only to be immediately disappointed. This was supposed to be the day of my long-awaited Mount Cautley Traverse - 4 new peaks in one stretch - all located along the same, fairly easy ridge and all with stunning views over the Mount Assiniboine area, including of course, the mighty Matterhorn of the Rockies.
Sunburst Peak has always interested me since first laying eyes on it in 2008, simply because it doesn't look nearly as easy as its reputation implies. There isn't a ton of trip reports available, but whatever is out there certainly doesn't make this objective sound very difficult - despite the appearance of impenetrable cliffs leading up to it's summit.
After a long and tougher-than-expected approach the day before, I woke up on Saturday, September 24 after a night of rain and snow shower, with the plan to hike a local ridge I'd noticed on the map called "Chucks Ridge", followed by a scramble up Sunburst Peak.
Ever since I first backpacked into the Mount Assiniboine area in early September 2008 from Mount Shark, I've wanted to go back in prime larch season - sometime in the last two weeks of September. In 2015 I thought I'd be going back and for some reason or another it didn't pan out. In 2016 I was absolutely determined to make the hike and scramble trip work out.
I wasn't sure if I had the energy or weather to do another scramble on Wednesday, September 21 but I had the day off and decided I might as well make the most of it. The week previous I'd summitted Park Mountain near MacArthur Lake in Lake O'Hara and noted the larches were especially stunning this year.
After getting over a serious lack of motivation and summiting Southfork Mountain, I decided to give myself an hour towards Barnaby Ridge to see where that would take me. The weather seemed to be clearing a bit but the wind was pretty strong so I bundled up in my Gore-tex layers and trundled off, south along Barnaby Ridge towards it's unseen summit.
I've been interested in Southfork Mountain and the traverse to (or from) Barnaby Ridge for a while now since reading multiple trip reports on it over the years. It seemed to be the type of trip that is more effort than you expect - which describes a lot of the Castle Wilderness Area peaks and trips that I've done over the years.
As I watched the giant snow flakes fall gently and silently all around me and settle onto the yellow and red fall foliage before slowly starting to melt, I was struck by a thought that has hit me square between the eyes more than once while solo trekking on various trails and routes through the backcountry of my beloved Canadian Rockies. The beauty that I'd experienced on this long and tiring day - and many long and tiring days before it - was not there for my benefit. It was simply there.
I've been eyeing Park Mountain before I knew what it's name was. The first time I hiked up Mount Schaffer I wondered what that nice mountain to the south, across McArthur Lake was and whether or not it was a scramble. Over the years I learned that it was called "Park Mountain" but never did read any detailed online trip reports from anyone who'd done it.
The weather forecast for the Alberta Rockies wasn't looking great for the 2nd weekend in September 2016. Big surprise. Not! I had a choice to make, and it was harder than it should have been. Stay home and sleep in or drive 3+ hours to Waterton Lakes National Park where the forecast was quite positive.
After summiting McGillivray Ridge in better-than-expected weather conditions, Wietse, Dave and I turned our attention to Ma Butte - a nice looking ridge to the west of McGillivray, sitting pretty in front of the impressive Crowsnest Mountain massif.
Wietse, Dave and I were approaching the trail head for Southfork Mountain and Barnaby Ridge when we noticed dark clouds and rain on the windshield. Since nobody felt like hiking or scrambling in the rain, we started searching our minds for easier objectives that could be done in the rain and wouldn't involve driving too terribly far.
Some days are thrown off track even before reaching the parking lot. On Friday, August 26th 2016, Wietse Bylsma and myself started our day with similar missteps to my infamous Cockscomb trip and continued to stumble and bumble our way towards and then up and then down and then up Mount Brewster. Ironically, Brewster is Cockscomb's twin across the valley.