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Tuff Puff
David Thompson Highway, Alberta
August 12, 2017

Tuff Puff is a long ridge with a good hiking trail. It probably offers good views, but smoke from forest fires – the worst in 60 years – left surrounding peaks either veiled or completely cloaked on an otherwise fine, hot summer day. (Some websites refer to it as “Tuff Puff Ridge” but David Thompson Highway: A Hiking Guide calls it simply “Tuff Puff.”)

The hike begins on a trail next to a pullout on the highway, 24 km east of Hwy. 93. Right off the bat, Dinah and I encountered a few forks. We turned right each time, which was undoubtedly a shortcut. After that, there was one more fork: the option of leaving the ridge to drop down to Kinglet Lake. (We ran into one fisherman coming back from there.) The trail begins with a steep climb and cruises lazily through meadows and forest groves before rising to meet the alpine summit. Our trip was bereft of our usual bevy of photos. In the waning days of the season, few wildflowers appeared, already going to seed, and smoke pretty much obliterated mountain scenery.

From the summit of Tuff Puff, the details of nearby Whirlpool Ridge and Two O’Clock Ridge were lost in a haze. North Saskatchewan River just 5 klicks away was barely visible. A few years ago on nearby Whirlpool Ridge we gazed at countless peaks beyond the river, but today we faced an opaque wall of smoke. The one bright spot we appreciated was the colourful outcrop a few minutes past the summit.

We missed the views this time, but we’ll probably return to the area another day – there are several climbs here we haven’t done – and hope for clear skies.

KML and GPX Tracks


Tuff Puff trailhead is on the right of the pullout


The trail forks just after a sign. We took the right fork, a shortcut, but the trails join less than 500 m away.


The shortcut swings left before reaching the top and soon joins the main trail


A huge arrow points the way as if it's possible to lose your way back from here


The summit lies ahead


The south ridge of Whirlpool Ridge is on the left


By the time we reached the summit, the south sky would be opaque


The trail on the left runs to Kinglet Lake


The trail dips into the forest ahead


The hike through trees was a nice change in scenery


Some kind of aster I'm guessing


Another, much longer, wooded section lies ahead


We passed a firepit in the trees


The rest of the trail bypasses trees


Looking back along the ridge

Two O'Clock ridge appears on the right


On the other side of Two O'Clock is the double summit of Mount Ernest Ross


Last steps to the summit


On the summit. It's worthwhile to scramble up the colourful outcrop on the right.


Standing on the outcrop


The north end of Whirlpool Ridge is left


Looking back at the summit from the outcrop


83 C/1 White Rabbit


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