On Saturday, November 22 2014, Wietse and I finally managed to get another trip in together. It's been a while since we managed to clear our schedules and match objectives so it was nice to get out again. Our destination was two small front range summits in the Bluerock Provincial Park area of Kananaskis west of Turner Valley up the Gorge Creek Road. When I did Missinglink and Dot Mountain exactly one year previous in 2013, the Gorge Creek road was still washed out near the start. It is now filled back in and goes a few more kilometers to a parking area on the west side of the road (you are forced into this parking lot by a barricade across the road).
We had no trouble finding the path along Gorge Creek and followed instructions in Gillean Daffern's excellent Hiking Guide on the area (I think we used trails 56 and 56A). We noticed right away that Gillean mentions a few alternate descent options from Ware, including Surveyor Ridge and Little Ware. We didn't think we'd have time for Surveyor, so we opted to try Little Ware instead.
[A photo from the Gorge Creek approach road, Mount Ware is the distant pointy peak to the right of the treed knoll.]
The approach trail along Gorge Creek was pretty mild, but there are plenty of ups and downs to keep you alert. There was a bridge where we needed it, and we did cross the frozen creek a few times before cutting up through the forest after going through an open gate along a fence line crossing the trail (note: it's not right after the gate - that'll get you to Little Ware). The forest was essentially nonexistent compared to some of the bushwhacks we've done and the weather was very pleasant as we gained height.
[Wietse hikes the trail to Gorge Creek from the parking lot. There's horse damage on the first part but thankfully the horses must go elsewhere eventually.]
[Pleasant hiking and views]
[There some junctions and other trails that could confuse you if you're not on the ball. So be on the ball. :)]
[Lots of ups and downs but it's worth staying on the trail because most of them avoid unnecessary creek crossings and messing around with steep banks along the creek.]
[We tried avoiding this particular uptrack but ended up going up the hill anyway!]
[It's a ways after this gate before you go up through light forest to climber's right. We came down from Little Ware almost directly to this gate from above on the right.]
[Gorge Creek is not a place you want to be hiking in, especially after the 2013 floods!]
[Great views of Bluerock Mountain from the approach - note we're back down to creek level after the fence / gate...]
[We went up this little draw to climber's right and to the summit from here.]
[The forest was fairly open - we stopped for lunch here.]
[The 'bushwhack' is very tame by my current standards... ;)]
[Nice open slopes to the summit bump (out of sight to climber's left here)]
The summit bump was a bit steeper but the views of Bluerock Mountain kept us entertained until we arrived at the giant summit cairn in a stiff, cold wind. Throughout the approach the mountains to the west were slowly disappearing in snow and cloud, so rather than wait around for the front, we snapped some photos and made a quick descent towards Little Ware.
[Grunting up to the plateau before the summit bump, great views of Burns and Bluerock. ++]
[Goat track - or human? Hard to tell...]
[The summit bump from the upper plateau]
[Looking back at Little Ware from the summit bump ascent slope]
[Wietse ascends the shale covered summit bump]
[The weather is moving in a bit as I approach the giant summit cairn. Wietse is hiding from the fierce wind! Summits include (L to R), Junction, Highwood, Shunga-la-she, Bluerock, Rose and Threepoint. ++]
[Looking north to Rose and Threepoint and along Surveyor Ridge and Volcano Ridge. ++]
[Vern on the summit of Mount Ware (photo by Wietse)]
We made a bee-line for Little Ware, finding smattering trails every once in a while. Soon we were looking back at Mount Ware from the diminutive summit of Little Ware. A few photos later and we plunged down southwest slopes into open forest and arrived back at the approach trail right near the fence / gate. Overall a nice fast (just over 5 hours) trip with excellent views to the west including Shunga-la-she, Burns, Bluerock, Rose and Threepoint Mountains. Highly recommended for late season - remember the Gorge Creek approach road is closed on December 1!
[Heading down to Little Ware]
[The route is obvious]
[Looking back at Mount Ware]
[Little Ware is indeed "little"...]
[The weather is deteriorating in this view from Little Ware looking west. Ware on the far right. ++]
[Looking at Mount Ware from Little Ware - Mount Rose is just to the left in the background.]
[Vern on the summit of Little Ware (photo by Wietse)]
[The weather is much more pleasant on our walk back to the parking lot along Gorge Creek!]