Cat Creek Hills
Having done many of the peaks surrounding Cat Creek Hills, it only seemed appropriate to climb the highest point of Cat Creek Hills itself. And the southwest ridge appeared to be the best route since extensive open sections along the ridge should be clear of snow.
But there were drawbacks. Since the area is home to a large number of elk (we saw two herds), we had to watch where we stepped as well as check ourselves for ticks. (Indeed, afterwards I found one of the little suckers feasting on my belly, probably attracted to the post-trip pizza I had.) Also we had to park at the seasonal gate at Highwood Junction and walk 3 km up Highway 22. But those drawbacks didn't deter Sonny and Dinah from joining me.
We walked up the highway and once we passed the creek that drains between Junction Hill and Cat Creek Hills, we started up a ridge. We soon realized, however, that this was a low intervening ridge. After dropping down the other side to a road, we found the correct ridge. (We should have followed the left bank of the creek after leaving the highway.)
Once on the southwest ridge, we had only to follow the crest. We hiked along scenic grassy sections and went up and over two high points. There were plenty of vistas on the open ridges, of course, but the high point in Cat Creek Hills – the summit – was partially treed, confining views to the east.
On the way back we saved ourselves some effort by skirting the high points on the south side. As we walked back along the highway, we encountered cyclists taking advantage of the highway closure. And at the gate we noticed several parked cars, some for cyclists but others for hikers going up Junction Hill. But although Junction Hill attracts more hikers, Cat Creek Hills holds the best attractions.
From the highway: the first and second high points (centre). The summit is hidden.
On the road, approaching the start of the ridge. Junction Hill on the right.
Ascending the ridge
A deer pauses to watch us
Mount Armstrong sets the backdrop
Looking back down the ridge
As we head to the first high point, the second high point appears on our right
Mounts Strachan, Muir and McPhail in the centre (mouse over for a close-up)
It was easier to travel on the snow (mouse over to look back)
After reaching the first high point we head to the second. Partway up
is a herd of elk (mouse over for a close-up).
Starting up the second high point
Looking back at the first high point
Midway we hit a wall
Dinah and I scrambled up the wall while Sonny went left around it
An elaborate cairn marks the second high point
Panorama from the second high point
Sonny pauses below me on our way to the summit (centre, treed)
Postholing to the summit
Arriving on the open ridge before the summit
On to the summit
On the rocky ridge that leads to the summit, Sonny stops to look around (mouse over to back up)
On the highest point of Cat Creek Hills. Cat Creek Ridge far right.
Lunch on the open slope
Using an animal trail cut into the south side, we avoid going over the second high point
82 J/7 Mount Head
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