Welcome to the account of our first hike of 2013 - a winter snowshoe climb of the local hill (well, local to me, anyway) King Mountain, in Gatineau Park, near Ottawa, Canada.
We've done King Mountain many times before, both from above and from below. The lower approach is the only one which gives King Mountain any sort of 'mountainous' character, seeing as it only tops out at about 1200 feet above sea level. The lower approach is also more challenging because it mostly does not follow established paths. This is one of the reasons why it is much more appropriate to do in the winter, when a deep snowy mantle covers much of the brush.
Along with us on a beautiful sunny Saturday were friends Pu and Denis, who were fortunately able to join us last-minute.
Sunny day below King Mountain
Heading off from Ch. de la Montagne
We started off on a well-packed snowshoe track from the traditional lower starting point, at Chemin de la Montagne and Chemin Kelly, just outside of the southern border of the park. A few minutes of walking up the well-travelled track brought us to a fainter snowshoe track that headed right, directly towards the big cliffs that form the southern aspect of King Mountain.
The existing snowshoe track made for easy going, and very soon we had the looming granite wall of King Mountain above us. We charted a course that stayed just south of the cliff, making our way east around the mountain's base, gradually gaining elevation as we went.
Once past the big vertical sections of cliff, we looked for a way up, though the series of brushy and wooded steeps and cliff bands that typify the south-eastern aspect of King Mountain. We decided to follow the now-faint snowshoe track as it wound up through two tricky little steep bits, using fallen and bent-over branches as useful hand-rails and haul-points.