Winter Walk up a rarely climbed foothill

Recently we went back to the lands south of Sandy McNabb, where we’ve been taking advantage of the frozen Sheep River. This time we had foothill 732089 in mind, a big sprawling mass that rises steeply above Coal Creek’s narrow valley and looks pretty good from Mount McNabb’s west summit. We knew the back side of it, the south facing slopes, were all grass, so there we were flogging up Wolf Creek trail again (a lot of ice still) to the big meadow, then continuing on and turning off up the west fork trail. (See #4A in Volume 4.)

Mount McNabb

Foothill 732089 from Mount McNabb west summit.

The meadows were  delightful as always. But to get to the south face we carried on to where the trail runs alongside the creek in the narrow valley, then climbed up the bank at 734083. After a band of trees,  it was all grass and easy going until we hit the long summit ridge that was  treed and strewn with windfall. It was hard to determine which was the true summit out of two bumps, neither of which had a cairn on top  despite lots of stones lying around on the ground, all of which made us think that this is a rarely climbed foothill. Just below a third and lower  bump was a meadow and finally a view to the west.

We made a loop back to the big meadow on Wolf Creek trail by heading first north then east. The initial  drop to the col at 731095 was steep — we swore the topo map was missing at least one contour line. The next  bump north (not shown on the top map) we omitted by contouring around on a game trail to a second col on the east ridge. From here we headed straight east up over a transverse N-S ridge that was steep on the far side (another missing contour) to a third col, then up onto another transverse N-S ridge that had a fire circle on top. Dropping off the end to the big meadow was easy, though there was the little matter of the drift fence low down.

You should know the meadow is boggy at its west end and the ice was rapidly melting as we picked our way across it to join the trail. So for anyone thinking of following in our footsteps , or thinking of climbing onto that last ridge — and people do, we saw footprints — I recommend you forgo the meadow and stay in the trees along the meadow’s north edge.

Coal Creek Ridge

West fork meadows looking toward the objective.

Coal Creek Ridge-30486

Looking back down south face meadows toward Mount Dyson.

Coal Creek Ridge-30501

Typical view along the east ridge.

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5 comments… add one
  • GMJ Mar 21, 2016, 10:02 am

    Maybe the student should have gone in winter to check on footprints. Last I was there, the trail was very well used. It’s too bad the network of trails south of the river has largely been decommissioned.
    When was there logging in Coal Creek?

  • Gillean Daffern Mar 20, 2016, 12:34 pm

    It was decommissioned in 2007 beyond the pass, then fully decommissioned in 2008 along with Phone Line, Junction Mountain South and the backcountry campground. In the rainy June of 2007 I think it was, a student was hired to walk the trails in the Sheep to establish which trails had the least use. Despite the fact she was unable to cross the Sheep River to check on the three trails, it was decided that these three were the trails that had to go, there not being sufficient manpower to maintain all the trails in the Sheep. We think also that logging up Coal Creek may have has something to do with it, although none of it has affected the trails. Anyway, we (meaning all the recreationists who actually USE the said trails) were all a bit miffed as none of us —individuals or clubs— had a say in the closure. That was then. I doubt this would happen nowadays in this more enlightened era of co-operation.
    It would be great if Wolf Creek trail could be reinstated, as it remains a popular trail with a great view at the pass of Coal Creek gorge. It became even more popular after the equestrians built the west fork trail (ironically in 2007/8) that enables a loop to be made around Mt. Dyson. And of course, it’s a great trail for winter use, far superior to Price Camp.

  • Jim Mar 19, 2016, 10:57 pm

    Why is the Wolf Creek trail decommissioned?

  • Gillean Daffern Mar 17, 2016, 6:41 pm

    A few days ago the river was still frozen hard at the crossing place. I actually think this is a great time of year to visit this area: the south and west slopes are bare and there was very little snow elsewhere. Interestingly, the decommissioned Wolf Creek trail has been very well used over the winter by snowshoers, skiers and walkers.

  • GMJ Mar 17, 2016, 5:14 pm

    So the river is still frozen?

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