[< Previous Page]
[page 1] [page 2] [page 3]
[Next Page >]
With an energy-replenishing lunch finished, it was time to move on. It had taken us about three hours to get from the trailhead to the top of Bald Peak, a distance of about six and a half kilometres (4 miles), and an already-solid elevation gain of 2500 feet. So, our pace was fairly good - more than a third of the distance and almost half of the elevation gain. At this rate, we were looking at a finish time of around eight hours.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Continuing the Journey
Might be time
Approaching the Amazing Erratic
Excellent Bouldering
Onward we went. The trail from Bald's summit heads directly west, along a crest that has extensive areas of beautiful open bedrock. Between these beautiful open sections, however, we encountered some longer and deeper sections of snowpack. The snow was no harder than it had been down lower, and we deeply postholed with nearly every step. The balance had tipped in favor of putting on our snowshoes.
Looks easy here
With snowshoes now on, we tackled the deeper snow. We were disappointed, however, to find out that even with snowshoes, the structure of the snow was not always sufficient to support our weight. Some steps would still result in a deep posthole, except that now there was the added possibility of the snowshoe getting caught on something below. It was still much better than going bareboot, but significantly more troublesome - and tiring - than we had anticipated.

We felt a bit ridiculous as we transitioned from snow back to the snow-free open rock sections, with our snowshoes grinding and grating on the dry bedrock. We knew that the next forested section would contain more snow, so wasting a bunch of time to take off and then put on snowshoes was not worth it.
Lots of Markers
Into the Hollow
Soon the trail veered right, away from the beautiful semi-open crest and down into a forested hollow. This hollow was the low point between Bald Peak and the eastern end of Rocky Peak Ridge itself. I knew from past experience that the next significant climb of the day was coming: a roughly thousand-foot ascent up to the eastern end of that ridge. And, given what we now knew about the snow conditions, I wasn't looking forward to the ascent.
Ascent to Ridge lookout
Apart from one or two small lookouts along the way, the ascent is within viewless forest. And, as we expected given the increasing altitude, the trail was now fully-snow covered. The super-soft snow in combination with significant elevation gain resulted in a miserable, sloggy experience, requiring much more effort than usual. One or two steps would be supported by the snow, and then suddenly, a subsequent step would break through and plunge you down a foot or two - or more. The unpredictability of this happening, combined with the fact that you had to expend muscle resistance twice for that particular step, was a much more exhaustive experience.

While most of us suffered in silence, Peter rose to the challenge. This was my first hike with him, and I'd already noticed that he was full of energy and frequently surged ahead. He took the miserable snow conditions as a challenge, and led most of the way up this stretch, breaking trail for us. This definitely helped, providing some pre-packdown for the rest of us.
courtesy JInnes
Back to Bald
Nearing Ridge Top
Resting from exhausting climb
We were fairly pooped by the time we reached the first open lookout near Rocky Peak Ridge's eastern end, and we took a long break there lying flat on the sun-warmed dry bedrock. This was not going to be a shortish eight-hour jaunt after all, I concluded. The snow conditions were likely to continue as they had so far, and we were not travelling at a particularly good clip any longer.
The long rest was definitely useful, as we started off west again with a slightly elevated energy level. Also in our favor was the fact that we were now reaching the 4000-foot level, meaning that we had climbed the majority of our day's 5300-foot elevation gain. Also, we were starting along a mostly level traverse of Rocky Peak ridge itself, so the next bit would be a respite from the steep climbing.

The return to ridgecrest hiking also meant a return to stretches of no snow. Essentially, any spot fully out of the trees had no snow at all. Again we knew that it would be a huge timewaster to shed and then don our snowshoes, so we just kept them on, grinding them against the open bedrock. Unpleasant but necessary. On the plus side, all of these open sections along the ridgecrest were scenically very nice. Ahead of us we could now see the eastern flanks of both Rocky Peak's and Giant's summits. Both had some impressive cliff or slide aspects.
Atop the ridge
Looking back east
Snowshoeing over bedrock
The half-snowed, half-open rock terrain continued until we descended to a forested low point along Rocky Peak ridge. Here we rounded the shoreline of pretty little Lake Mary Louise - a shallow pond delicately placed along the 200-yard (metre) wide crest of Rocky Peak Ridge. The lake was half-melted out, so we couldn't take a shortcut directly across it.
Rocky Peak not far away
Lake Mary Louise
Lake Mary Louise
The snowpack around Lake Mary Louise was fairly deep - and still horribly soft - and we had many instances of deep postholing even with snowshoes on. We were very glad to reach the beginning of the stretch of open meadows below Rocky Peak's summit. In fact, I stopped and took off my snowshoes for this stretch - I was tired of wearing them on open ground.
Bad post-holing
Lake and Ridge
Final open meadows
The pretty open meadows had not yet come alive with the vibrance of late spring and summer, but even so, they were a nice change of pace - springy turf instead of bedrock or snow.

A final band of scrubby trees around Rocky Peak's summit meant the return of deep snowpack, and I reluctantly put my snowshoes back on. Peter tried giving it a go without snowshoes, and postholed so badly that he was stopped in his tracks and forced to put them on. Without snowshoes, one would be virtually trapped in this stuff - it was almost like a white quicksand.
More tiring soft snow
Ever-broader views
Rocky Peak summit terrain
A short ascent brought us up the last couple of hundred feet of elevation to the top of Rocky Peak itself. We had been speculating about traffic on the other side - the much more popular and travelled ascent route to Rocky Peak - and sure enough, there was another group enjoying the summit (up to this point, we had encountered no one else).
Peter Arrives, Rocky Peak
Contemplating the walk to Giant
It was now just past 3:30pm as we enjoyed the 360-degree panorama from Rocky Peak, with new views to the Great Range, the Dix Range, and down towards Chapel Pond. As we'd predicted, our overall pace was way down due to the tough snow conditions, and we were way behind our original time plan. More than eight hours had already elapsed, and we had only completed one of the two major summits for the day. We therefore did not stay long at the summit of Rocky Peak.
[< Previous Page]
[page 1] [page 2] [page 3]
[Next Page >]
Send feedback or leave comments (note: comments in message board below are separate from those in above message board)
(There are no messages in the homemade custom message board)
Web Page & Design Copyright 2001-2024 by Andrew Lavigne. (Privacy Policy)