When the girl-gang goes hiking, we like to do as little driving as possible. The girls live in town. I don’t. So, we try to find a hike in the middle.
I’d never done this hike before. But it is quite magnificent, a little comparable to the Coal Lake area, but in my opinion, even better. According to Hikes and Bikes, the length is a little shorter, the elevation gains a little more than the Coal Lake hike. In Hikes and Bikes, this one is called the Ibex-Area Mountain. I call it “Winter Mountain”.
Winter Mountain I.
Late September, part of the girl-gang goes for it.
The start is a little unnerving. What I perceive as a probable deterrent is the unofficial shooting range at the bottom. I’m pleasantly surprised that it has recently been largely cleaned up; the range now, happily, is separated from the trail by pushed-up-gravel.
We trace the long road up. Above the tree line we arrive, suddenly, at a plateau of wide open space. We decide to leave the trail and aim for what appears to be the closest peak. It’s amazing how lovely it is to be walking on the soft tundra instead of on the usual beaten down paths. After making the decision, not quite unanimously, we all very happily walk like this. And I feel an extra dimension of closeness to the land.
The wind is fierce, so we bundle up as tightly as we can walking along the ridge overlooking Takhini Valley from Thirty-Seven-Mile to Laberge. Most of us are determined to make it to the highest spot on the ridge. We run and laugh and the wind freezes us.
Hence, “Winter Mountain”.
We are exhilarated and thus care less that the views, due to the weather, are not as spectacular as they could be.
Winter Mountain II
A month later, winter has still not totally set in. I hike up with the keeper of this mountain. Soon enough, we encounter snow. At times, snowshoes would have been useful. Still, the going is good. We marvel at the ptarmigan we discover on the plateau. They are hardly visible and they know it. When we sneak up, only when we get within a few feet from them, do they scatter. There are so many more of them than we initially thought.
Reaching to the top of what we perceive to be the end of the trail, this time the views are spectacular. Clear skies and, as perfection will, fog patches in the valley, the Takhini River a bright blue ribbon.
On both occasions I was not quite sure, when looking at the map, where we actually hiked. At times, most of us lose a sense of direction on Winter Mountain. But the glory of it. I always have a sense wherever I am is exactly where I want to be. After consulting the map at home, I understand better how it all fits together. As always, I have an urge to go back up. The summer daylight will definitely allow for reaching the highest peak, at 6100 feet, or 1850 metres, in one day.
If and when you go on this hike, please do as we did. Take a bit more garbage home from the shooting range and dispose of it properly. I believe the mountains remember a beautiful gesture.