After scrambling Prairie Bluff and hiking Mount Backus the day before, the kids and I woke up on Sunday in the mood for a nice hike but not much else. Naturally we wanted a summit but we didn't want to work too hard for it. ;) As it turns out, we got TWO summits for the effort of HALF a summit. This way of bagging peaks is so much easier than doing hard work like Forbes a few weeks ago. Of course I partially jest, but it is fun to do nice easy hiking and peak bagging once in a while and doing it with my kids provides me with as much satisfaction as the big remote summits do. Maybe even a tiny bit more? It helps that they let me take millions of flower pics too.
[I stopped beside a small lake on the drive from Beaver Mines Lake to Beauvais Lake to try out my new ultra-telephoto lens. It works well.]
The idea for Mount Baldy and Albert came from Bob Spirko who has done a number of ridges and peaks in the Castle Wilderness Area over the years. Bob listed the total height gain for the Baldy / Albert loop as only 250 meters but I doubted that number when I looked at the map. It turns out that I was right - it's almost double that figure so I'm not sure how Bob did his numbers. Either way this is not a trip for anyone who needs huge effort to feel good about a day in the hills. This is a trip for family or groups of friends who want to spend as much time photographing flowers as hiking. Because there is a ton of wildflowers along the way.
[A screenshot of the government map of the Beauvais Lake area with our route in pink - we did it counterclockwise. As you can see there are lots of extension options and even though it's not indicated on this map, there is a signed trail between Baldy and Albert. ++]
I've never been to Beauvais Lake Provincial Park before and I must say that just as I was for the Beaver Mines Recreational Area, I was duly impressed with the area. We didn't check out the camping sites but I bet they're pretty decent given how well maintained the hiking trail were. There are a lot of hiking trails in the park - your best bet is to download the .pdf map or the .pdf map with guide and a GPS or you could easily get turned around. A lot of the trails we were on seemed to be xcountry ski trails in the winter and were marked with orange diamond placards nailed to trees. The signs that were meant to be maps were a bit obscure as they only had a bunch of route lines and markers showing where you currently were - good enough to get you back to your car but not really helpful without labels!
We started out from the Beaver Creek Day Use parking lot, heading towards the Upper Smith Homestead via the Homestead Group Use Area. We turned right at the Lower Smith Homestead before walking through the group area (nobody there) and then left up a wide xcountry ski trail that had a large propane tank and small shed at its base. From here we gained height while switching trails a few times - I was glad to have Bob's GPS track for this section! We spent a lot of time photographing the local flora - there were a ton of wildflowers along the entire route.
[The trail from the parking lot to the group camp is well traveled.]
[The lower Smith Homestead - this is where we turned right towards the group camp area.]
[From the group camp area we found this trail on the west end, passing a propane tank and this building.]
[The signs indicate that these are xcountry ski trails in the winter.]
[The birds were serenading us as we wandered through the forest on wide trails. It was quite lovely.]
[Arriving at the upper Smith homestead meadows.]
The upper Smith homestead consisted of a dilapidated log cabin surrounded by long grass gently blowing in the wind, wildflower meadows and million dollar views - I can see why the Smith family built their home here! I searched for more information on this family and only found the following online news article which I assume is at least partially about the "Smith" family that was responsible for the two Smith homestead cabins that we saw. Since the Charles and Mary Rose Smith family consisted of 17 children I'm pretty sure at least some of them may have settled near Beauvais Lake!! :)
[I found this online article from a local Pincher Creek newspaper that talks about the Smith family that likely built the two homestead cabins that we saw while hiking around Beauvais Lake. ++]
[A panorama of the upper Smith homestead showing why they built it here - a sublime meadow above Beauvais Lake. ++]
[Old horse tack in the cabin.]
[More detritus from the Smith family. Hard to believe that one day my house could look like this. One day a lot sooner than I expect as I'm sure the Smiths didn't think their house would be like this 100 years after pouring so much sweat equity into it!]
From the upper Smith homestead we continued upwards on a series of trails to the rounded summit of Baldy. It was indeed, bald - something we were seriously doubting on the way up through all the trees. The huge tower at the summit was offset by a very comfortable bench which we put to good use. The views were much better than expected - I especially enjoyed the view up Gladstone Creek and towards Table Mountain which included green valleys, a couple of ranch buildings and rolling hills.
[After the homestead the trails got a bit narrower and less used.]
[The shooting star flowers were already looking a little tired of life.]
[Thankfully, my kids enjoy photographing flowers as much as I do. The only difference is that they use their phones to do it!]
[Because of the way a Glacier Lily droops, you can only get shots like this if you're willing to get down and intimate with the earth next to them.]
[Context from the previous photo. It's been a while since I've seen so many carpets of Glacier Lilies.]
[A tiny white spider enjoys this Heart-Leaved Arnica as much as I do.]
[I'm not sure why but Clematis always look depressed to me, like they don't really want to be there but felt like they should make an effort anyway.]
[The longest time I've spent hiking 500m in a while. It was fun!]
[More Shooting Stars.]
[Western Canada Violet.]
[Finally the hill gets 'bald' near the top. And there's a huge tower there to improve the view a bit.]
[Enjoying the view - this is looking north and east (r). ++]
[A special summit with my kids.]
[Another view without the bench this time. ++]
[Looking west and north towards Maverick, Ginger and Byron hills. ++]
[Starting our hike to Mount Albert from the summit of Baldy.]
After taking in the summit it was time to trek on to Mount Albert which was rising to the southeast.