Clear skies and the promise of fair weather . . . guests keen to tackle a challenging hike . . .where else but the Hoff Ridge??
Undaunted by the previous day’s snowfall, cool morning temperature and periodic gusts of wind at the cabins, our four intrepid 2-legged hikers (Laura, Becky, Emily and Ralph) and our faithful 4-legged companions (Molly and Leo) prepared for the Hoff Ridge hike shortly after breakfast.
- Rain gear? . . . . .Check
- Warm, layered clothing? . . . . . Uh, Ralph, do you have long pants to wear? Says Ralph “I always hike in shorts, find pants too restrictive.” . . . . . Okaaaay . . . Check
- Water and food . . . . .Check (extra for the dogs)
- Toque and gloves? . . . . . Uh, Becky? Says Becky “Do I need gloves?” YES. Suitable gloves found for Becky -Check
And we’re off, anticipating climbing up to the alpine meadows on the south side, making our way across a narrow ridge-line above the cirque, scrambling up the summit (aka Jabba the Hut as the peak is referred to by Laura), and easing our way down a rugged ridge-line to the Avalanche Chute, and then (easy as pie) back to the cabins.
On the way to the base of the mountain, a few remaining wild strawberries were found (frozen and past their prime, but delectable anyway!), along with tasty Prickly Currant, less-pleasing Black Currant (as Ralph discovered) and a few remaining Buffalo Berries (edible only in large quantities by bears). Molly and Leo found a trail snack as well – the rather meager remains of a Snowshoe Hare (likely breakfast for the resident Lynx).
A brief rest stop at the base of the mountain, and we’re climbing in earnest through moss-carpeted, old-growth forest.
Snow is starting to make an appearance in sheltered patches and the first prickles of apprehension furrow Laura’s brow . . .
The wind is audible when we break into the open, and the hikers are quickly pulling on the extra layers shed on the way up.
Ralph is fine in shorts!
The views above tree-line are always spectacular, even though Mount Robson to the west was obscured by a wall of white.
A light cover of snow on the scree slope from tree-line to the first (relatively) flat alpine meadow made footing treacherous and the going was slow. The wind hit us full-force on that first meadow, and we by-passed our normal, ‘sheltered’ lunch spot in hopes of finding ANY place out of that screaming wind.
The short sheep trail down a steep shale slope [that could almost be a tongue-twister, eh?], normally just a careful placing of one’s feet when dry, became our first bum-slide of the hike when covered in snow.
With the wind tearing at us climbing the next hump, Becky casually remarked that the only part of her that was cold was her bum . .Ralph quipped “Oh, that’s just a gender thing!”
By the time we reached the lesser summit of the Hoff Ridge, Laura voiced her concerns regarding crossing the cirque and making the summit. Ralph, still in shorts, is keen. So, Laura, Becky and Emily wimped out, sheltered where we could and watched Ralph make the final dash to the summit (Ralph RAN, seriously!)
Molly and Leo were quite comfortable sharing our less windy lunch spot, agreeing that crossing to the summit might be best left for another day.
Upon Ralph’s safe return and brief re-fuelling break, we set off the make the Ridge Walk down to the Rock Lake Road.
There were a few, all-too-brief respites from the biting wind and by the time we reached the cairn, the windward side of our faces felt frozen. Becky mentioned her bum was freezing . . .
Deciding to peel off the mountain and away from the wind earlier than normal, Laura picked a promising descent route . . .oops. . .What was STEEP became incredibly STEEPER!
Ralph, mountain goat that he is, forged ahead to find the most passable route – also acting as a solid obstacle should one of us start careening off the mountain.
Laura figured the best way down this section was to plant her bum firmly (more-or-less) on the ground (it was ending up there anyway!), let gravity do its’ thing, and just try to control the descent using heels and any available solid objects (including Ralph). Becky and Emily followed suit.
After the first bum-sliding stretch, we discovered why Becky’s bum was cold on top of the mountain. Fabric on the seat of Becky’s pants was flapping in the wind . . .and Becky’s cheek was sporting a nice display of road rash!
Once on to flatter ground and able to remain in the upright position for more than a few steps, we were rewarded with wild raspberries and a few gooseberries. Following animal trails, the going was SO EASY (compared to what we’d just done) to the Rock Lake Road.
Not relishing the thought of hiking another kilometer on the road, plus another 3 km – uphill! – on the trail to the cabins, we were delighted when a vehicle came around the corner! Our new guests, Katinka and Dave, were just arriving and readily agreed to give Becky a lift up to the cabins. Becky returned with the pickup by the time the weary hikers and dogs crested the first hill on the trail – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
Susan had a nice dinner of Pork Chops with Pears awaiting our (a bit late) arrival. Soooo appreciated!
Until next time . . .Happy Trails!