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.
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.
If you've read my Cockscomb Mountain trip report, you should not be surprised that it's been weeks since my last summit! I jest. Although my mountain mojo was a bit depleted in June / July, this isn't the real reason I haven't summitted a mountain in the last 7 weeks.
After scrambling Prairie Bluff in the morning, we found ourselves with plenty of time for a short objective on our way to setting up camp for the night at the Beaver Mines Recreation Area in the Castle Wilderness. I had a trip report on Mount Backus from Bob Spirko who snowshoed it in March of 2014. Backus was located along the highway leading to Beaver Mines, so it made perfect sense to try it.
I debated labeling Camp Creek Ridge a distinct summit, but due to several factors, I've decided that I'm going to count it separately. The main factor is that while Thrift is accessible from many sides, Camp Creek Ridge isn't. Also, the ridge is pure hiking whereas Thrift is easy scrambling and won't be for everyone. YMMV, but for me these two summits are very different.
On March 05, 2016, after we successfully scrambled End Mountain, Mike Mitchell (Giant's Gate Journeys) and I set our sights on my second and Mike's third summit of the (long) day. There is no good reason not to hike to the summit of Association Hill if you're in the area anyway and you're a peak bagger.
I still wasn't feeling 100% on the last weekend of February 2016. I decided that the forecast was too 'iffy' to try anything too lofty or remote on Sunday, February 28th so I woke up late and once again drove past Okotoks, through Black Diamond and Turner Valley and continued on to Kananaskis Country.
After crossing the Sheep River and ascending the very easy Wolf Creek Hill, I turned my attention to Channel Ridge to the SE. Interestingly, I could find no other trip reports on this ridge so I was on my own when it came to beta - a rare thing for easy front range ridge hikes (and one of the main reasons it interested me).