Mount Hoffmann easier than ever

A good spring hike to a viewpoint, only 8.2 km return from Indian Oils trailhead and no creek crossings. Since written up in vol 4 (Sheep) of the KCTG,  the trail has improved and is easy to follow with lots of flagging just in case.

Start off by crossing the Sheep River above Tiger Jaws Fall on the new heavy duty bridge  erected by Alberta Transportation’s  bridge division. Complete with gravelled approaches, guard rails at both ends and large signs informing this is the Sheep River and warning the weight limit is 11 tonnes, it seems extraordinarily out of place at this location when a nice little bridge like the one at Dawson would suffice. But what many people don’t know is that Alberta Transportation is responsible for the upkeep of the fire road to Junction lookout.

So you follow the stony uphills of the fire road (Sheep trail in these parts) for 1.7 km and turn right onto Hoffmann’s green logging road just before a washout. Forget about the shortcut at the third bend as mentioned in the 4th edition. After the road narrows to trail up the west fork come to a Y-junction where a few people take the wrong turning. Keep left as per the flagging. The equally good trail to right climbs into a meadow at the foot of the lower hump. If you’re calling it a day, this is the perfect place to hang around, enjoying the view to the northwest and searching the rock band for Frankenstein and other “heads.”

Side trip to the lower hump.

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Back on the main trail, the next improvement occurs at the end of the logging road. The trail up the hillside to the north ridge is now very clear, if not less steep, and melds  seamlessly into the crux passage through mature forest with its tangled understory of deadfall. There is now a recognizable trail crossing it to meadow on the west side. There’s still some step-over deadfall, so it’s not completely tamed and I  am still waiting for someone to come up here with a chainsaw.

Mount Hoffmann

Rising traverse after the steep section.

Mount Hoffmann

Deadfall on the north ridge.

Mount Hoffmann

The final stretch to the summit

Plod on through shaley meadow to the shaley summit where the much sought-after view appears to the south and west and north. At centre stage is Gibraltar, a square black mass sitting between the snowy peaks of Mist and Rae. Closer in is Junction Mountain displaying its extremely long north ridge. The forested bit is where we ran out of daylight a few years ago and had to feel our way down to the Sheep River in complete darkness. The batteries in our  headlamps were dead and we hadn’t brought spares. Bad planning I know, but the bushwhack was fun and as we waded across the Sheep the moon came up.

Tiger Jaw Falls

Tiger Jaw Falls

One N or two? Why does the spelling of Hoffmann  keep being queried? G. Christian Hoffmann was a chemist and mineralogist with the Geological Survey of Canada and a close associate  of A.O. Wheeler. While wandering the foothills during the irrigation survey, Wheeler  named the mountain and a nearby camp after his friend. In his diaries of the period he always spelled Hoffmann with two ens. And so did the annual reports of the GSC. Do not always believe the Canadian Geographical Names website.

Hoffmann map

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