Prairie Bluff II
After traversing Prairie Bluff in 2005 I've always wanted to return to do it in the opposite direction, counterclockwise. There are a few good reasons to do so. The southeast ridge is better appreciated if ascended slowly rather than running down it, and the uninspiring road can be done downhill quickly. Also, the best scenery – such as views of Victoria Peak and Windsor Mountain – aren't behind but instead in front.
Rather than starting at the Victoria Peak trailhead south of Prairie Bluff, Dinah, Sonny and I started up a service road east of the mountain (thanks to Taras Kurylo for suggesting this route). We crossed mostly fields and open slopes to reach the southeast ridge. After an enjoyable ridge walk we made the summit. From the top of Prairie Bluff we could see snow-covered peaks all the way to the north and south horizons. Then we turned west and walked down along an old road. However, it soon turned into a maintained road. We should have stayed on this road a bit longer to catch the trail going down– actually an old road – but instead, we turned right prematurely to find Victoria Peak looming large ahead. Realizing our error, we doubled back a bit to get on the trail.
After the trail ended, we had to cross a mix of fields and trees to reach our car two clicks away. Travel was especially miserable at lower elevation levels where the snow lay soft and deep. We spent much time either postholing or bushwhacking. Even if snow were the only problem, spring isn't the best time to travel cross-country: it's tick season. On the drive back, Sonny discovered one creeping up his neck, and at home, apparently after hitching a ride on a pack, Dinah found one crawling up a wall.
Starting up the road
For some reason, this area was being cleared
We head to a low point in the cliffs
Drywood Mountain and Pincher Ridge lie south
On the ridge, false summit ahead
Lots of shale on the ridge
Looking back from near the summit
Windsor Mountain sets the background for a summit pose
Heading back along the road
After passing a Quonset hut surrounded by a fence, we came to a maintained road
Looking back at the summit
Looking back along the trail
On the way back, we see Prairie Bluff and the southeast ridge we ascended
For a short distance, we followed a cutline
82 G/8 Beaver Mines
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