Distance: 23 km
Elevation gain: 925 m View map Download GPS track
Today was yet another weekend day with strong Chinook winds. While this meant the temperature was unseasonably warm, it also meant 125+ km/h winds at 3000 m, ruling out any summit bid for us today. Coupled with reports of deep snow and continued flurries and cloud in the forecast further west we decided to stay low and in the front country again. To fill the day we decided to combine two trails in Sheep River Provincial Park: The Bluerock Creek and Indian Oils trails.
We started the loop at the end of Highway 546 at the Junction Creek day use area and followed the directions in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide
, although once on the trail the going was quite obvious and we only used the book for consulting maps (we followed trails 28-->28B-->25D-->25). The only point of confusion was on the route connecting the two trails, but even here a good trail existed most of the way and navigation was quite straightforward.
What we should have paid more attention to, however, was Daffern's description of the Bluerock Creek trail. Phrases such as "an uninteresting section on logging road", "through gloomy spruce forest", "no-no's in the school of advanced trail building", and "the payoff for kilometers of exasperating trail" should have warned us how boring this hike would be! The description of the Indian Oils trail is a bit better, but we found that trail to be equally as boring. Vast sections of both trails have been pureed by horse traffic and 95% of the hike is in viewless forest. For the most part the forest isn't even the nice open mixed forest that dominates the hills just a bit further east, but rather a wetter and denser mostly spruce forest. To top it off the wind we'd hoped to escape was blowing 40-80 km/h through the forest and the warm temperatures melted the top layer of mud making for extremely slippery and slimy conditions!
On the plus side we didn't see anyone else until near the start of the Indian Oils trail, a half dozen grouse and several mule deer made appearances, and we did pass through some gorgeous meadows, but overall this wasn't the relaxing and enjoyable walk in the forest I'd envisaged. Daffern does note in her book that a few new trails are planned for the area and perhaps they'll be nicer, but as the book was published pre-flood I imagine those plans have evaporated.