The first time I saw The Cave on the rock face of the Hoff Ridge, I wondered . . .
- Can I get up there without ropes?
- Is it truly a “cave” cave? Perhaps deep enough to over-winter bats? Maybe a whole cavern system running deep into the mountain?
- What might I find up there? Hieroglyphics? Dinosaur footprints – or better, a dinosaur bone?
- Will I come face-to-face with a cougar or wolverine who is not at all impressed that I just popped in?
With glorious weather and repeat guests Pam, Heath and Rebecca willing to go on an adventure, those burning questions were finally answered this September long weekend.
A headlamp went into the pack (just in case we got lucky), as well as gloves for serious scrambling, along with the requisite extra water, lunches and rain gear. Carleen and Bridgette, first-time guests from Fort St. John, accompanied the adventurers to the dry creek bed and enjoyed spending the rest of their day soaking in the peaceful quiet of sun-dappled forest.
Now, once one leaves the clearing where the cookhouse is, The Cave is lost from sight. At the base of the Hoff Ridge, where the little un-named creek splits, the cirque and ridge-line are clearly visible . . . but The Cave is not. Okay . . . I’ve looked at this cave for years, from all sorts of vantage points – I know where it should be.
So, we’ll take the south fork of the creek, then cut UP a spine and we should have a clear view of The Cave once we clear tree-line. Right? A mountain goat would choose a less-steep route . . .
We were rewarded with spectacular views, as always.
The Cave was not in sight. Leaving my trusty helper, Nick, in charge of our guests and investigating an alternative route, Leo and I struck out across the scree. Molly wisely elected to stay with the guests, watching my painfully slow progress up and across a slope that even mountain goats would avoid. Leo’s constant whining told me he also was questioning my sanity . . .
Stopping whenever the scree wasn’t sliding away beneath my feet to reconnoiter my route, I figured if worse came to worst and I missed The Cave, I’d just try for the top of the cirque. And suddenly, struggling over another rise – EUREKA!!
Heath, also watching me from the spine, heard my shout of discovery and saw me disappear over the rocks. Nick’s alternative route-finding ended in unscalable chimneys, sheer cliffs, fantastic drops and fear-of-imminent-death moments. Pam’s Mother Instinct kicked in and they all decided to have lunch and wait for my (eventual) return.
Leo and I made the final scramble to The Cave . . . and disappointment.
It wasn’t really a cave cave, rather just a huge piece of the sloping rock slab was simply missing. I did slither up the slab on my belly about 10 feet or so, just to make sure I wasn’t missing some hidden passage or opening where the slab met the roof, but no. Zilch. Peered at the rock roof, walls, slab – looking for fossils, dinosaur bones, hieroglyphics . . . anything. Nada. Well darn.
Found a flat-ish spot to park my bum, fed Leo most of my sandwich to try to stop his whining, soaked in the view and contemplated the best way to go down . . .
Scree-skiing, spider-walking the smooth crevases and I was able to re-join our guests. Leo didn’t like sliding, so he had to find his own route to the spine. An uneventful trek back to the cabins and the only fatality was Nick’s hiking boots!
Was it worth it? Absolutely! Satisfied my curiosity, scratched that item off the list of “Things to Do, Places to Go” and I don’t ever have to do it again!
A special THANKS to Amy for staying behind and getting dinner ready!
Until next time . . . Happy Trails!