Distance: 8 km
Elevation gain: 300 m View map Download GPS track
With a foot of fresh snow and temperatures in the -20 C range in Kananaskis, I wasn’t motivated at all to get out today. I knew if I stayed home, however, that I’d regret it all week, and so compromised with an easy and simple walk to the summit of diminutive and obscure Sinnot Hill.
We tried to follow the directions in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide
, but were largely unsuccessful. The first challenge – compounded by my navigator – was that the road referred to as the “Ware Creek Road” in the book is now signed as the “Gorge Creek Road”. Once on the road we did find where “the trail” crosses the road and there was enough space to park at this point, but shortly onto the trail the route was anything but obvious. We followed what appeared to be a trail for a short distance, roughly paralleling the road, before reaching a powerline that led to a small gas facility. Another trail-like path departed from here and we followed it, but it ended at an ugly cutblock.
Crossing the cutblock was an absolutely horrendous exercise. The loggers only take the trees that meet their standards for ecological rape and leave behind a ton of ugly and tangled debris, all of which was covered by at least a foot of snow today and thus invisible until we stumbled into it with every second step.
Eventually we reached the other side of the mess and picked up a deer trail heading into the forest. In order to keep the bushwhacking tolerably light our path through the forest was quite convoluted, but it did lead us to an old trail heading in the direction we wanted. This marginally improved travel, and at the highpoint of the ridge to the north of Sinnot Hill we were momentarily entertained when a large herd of elk ran across the trail in front of us, heading away from the hill.
We followed the elk path for a while, but still had to contend with a ton of bushwhacking. (On the return I discovered that keeping west avoids most of the brush). The topography along the ridge was a bit navigationally confusing too, and at one point I glanced at my GPS and noticed that we were heading in almost completely the wrong direction! That doesn’t often happen, but with no view at all it’s easy to do.
We did, of course, eventually reach the summit meadow of Sinnot Hill, and were able to have a quick lunch without getting too cold. Unfortunately, low cloud obscured what could theoretically have been tolerably nice views to the south and west, and with deadfall surrounding the summit meadow and the temperature hovering near -15 C we didn’t bother to further explore the area.
On our way back I decided to take a slightly different route in an effort to avoid the nasty cutblock we’d endured on the way up. This led us through unusually thick brush before depositing us at the edge of another cutblock! We powered through it, but then encountered a larger and messier one. With some effort we managed to contour around it, a route which thankfully brought us pretty much back to the truck.
Sinnot Hill was not quite (ok, not even close to) the nice wander through forest and meadow that I imagined it would be! It was better than sitting at home, of course, but not by much. If you’re inclined to try it yourself I’d recommend attempting a route that starts from Highway 549 and crosses Threepoint Creek. The satellite imagery (that I didn’t look at before we started out) suggests that such a route would at least avoid the cutblocks, and with a bit of luck the creek would even be frozen. I also just heard of another route that seems to avoid all the messy stuff. Check it out here