I haven’t written about Stony Creek before, even though I drink its water daily and follow its bank up to the mountains a few times each year. Once I even followed it beyond its source, overlooking Harrison Lake.
The Stony Creek hike is a popular. It’s easy and close to town, about 40 km north of Whitehorse on the Alaska Highway. Heading up the sandy ridge I often see porcupine, carnivores, ungulates, bear, and human tracks.
On Monday, Oct. 21 I parked at the yellow gate by the gravel pit, but you can drive up the first part of the trail if you like. I set a fair pace and made it to the foot of the mountain, just above the tree line, in approximately two hours. The foot of the mountain has a little, gravel-y clearing where the trail used to end, but over the last five years ATVers have extended the trail another kilometre westward.
When you rest at this lovely outlook, be careful of the tiny phlox flowers that grow here. Phlox only blooms in June – beautiful violet flowers. But during the rest of the year it is so tiny and inconspicuous in colour that you barely see it.
This flower is rare in this part of the Yukon. Looking at the geology of the territory, we are in granite country, but on a geological map this is a small area that’s different. The minerals in the ground have an effect on the flora. Perhaps this has resulted in the phlox setting up a home here.
From the view on this hike, the world is wide open. To the east, one can hike towards a glorious rock face that’s visible from the highway. North, there is Squash-berry Mountain (it’s true to its name). To the west, a beautiful big mountain that has incredible panoramic views.
I follow the trail that takes the path of a moraine (also called an esker, which is a gravel deposit left by a glacier). It’s pretty cold here – the little tarns, which are pools in the mountain, north in this pass are frozen. I hike up what I call Big and Beautiful a little ways and then turn south, side-hilling.
When the creek comes back into view, I look down into it, opposite from the gully, two vertical lines of talus in the mountain to the south, and I descend.
Following a slight ridge that continues on the opposite side of the creek and I emerge in a narrow gap, between vertical walls of rock, which, referring to the geology of the area, are not granite.