Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 750 m View map Download GPS track
After an excessively long yard work, paid work, and weather-related hiatus from the Rockies Sandra and I were beyond happy to get back to hiking up mountains. We also had a new toy to try out - a new camping trailer we'd just bought last week - and so we decided to head down to the Castle Wilderness for a two-day hiking and camping trip. As learning the ins and outs of trailer camping was taking up a fair bit of my brain power and time we decided to tackle two quick and dead easy mountain objectives - Prairie Bluff and Whistler Mountain.
Prairie Bluff was our destination on Saturday. The route to its summit is described in Andrew Nugara's scrambling guide
, but we only needed the directions to find the best place to park, leaving the guide in the truck and heading off on our own. While we were rarely on a trail and the spring vegetation was knee-high in places, travel was never difficult and we soon arrived at the point where Vern
had gained the ridge with his kids the week before. Almost any route up would have worked at this point and we simply scrambled straight up, avoiding loose scree whenever possible.
We reached the very broad summit ridge after perhaps 30 minutes of strenuous ascent, then made our way easily to the summit. We didn't linger long, instead heading to a spot a bit lower down with a good breeze for lunch and a nap. Despite being on scree with little vegetation around we both picked up a tick here, so be aware!
After our nap we continued south along the ridge, reaching some sort of oil/gas installation near the midway point. We followed its access road to a T-intersection, turned right, then in few hundred meters left the trail to descend back towards the car via a gully. Further down we reconnected back up with the exploration road and could've followed it back to the car, but chose instead to set a more direct line through the fields and forest. This route was as easy as the approach and, of course, far more interesting than a hot and dull plod along the road would have been.