Distance: 16 km
Elevation gain: 1150 m View map Download GPS track
With the Rockies still enveloped in unusual summer weather Sandra and I set our sights on another nice fall hike and summit today, heading south for Thrift Peak. Having been traumatized by nasty winds last weekend we were a bit wary today, but while it was blowing moderately strong along sections of highways 2 and 22 it was remarkably calm at the turnoff for Thrift Peak. Not even the dust cloud from my truck on the dirt road blew away!
To reach the trailhead for Thrift Peak from highway 22 we followed a gravel road west along the north bank of the Oldman River, turning onto a rough 4x4 road just after the gravel road turned sharply north. While the 4x4 road was initially in acceptable shape, it soon deteriorated to the point that I was happy to be in the truck. The wind also picked up in the final 3 km to the trailhead, and by the time we parked it was blowing a moderate gale! The lay of the land can do weird things to the wind I guess. Along this road we also passed a few gates and three official “No Hunting” signs, then encountered two trucks of hunters at the end of the road. Perhaps the road serves as an access point to an area that can be legally hunted, but I suspect it was just another Alberta “thing”.
We parked just before a sign for the Bob Creek Wilderness and followed an ATV track north, roughly paralleling Camp Creek. Just under two kilometers from the car we rock-hopped across Camp Creek, then a few hundred meters later – still on ATV track – we turned west and ascended alongside a minor drainage. A little over a kilometer later the track turned southwest to cross another minor drainage between two ridges. We left it at this point and started ascending along a ridge to the right (east). There was no trail along this ridge, but several sections had good game trails that made the going easier. As an added bonus, the animals that made those trails seemed as interested in avoiding the prevailing wind, which was now gusting to about 70 km/h, as we were, so by sticking to their routes we able to avoid the worst of it.
After several small ups and downs, a few detours around minor high points, and just under 7 km of travel we reached the highpoint of the ridge. The lookout atop Thrift Peak was immediately to the west, and after descending 60 m to a col we started the very steep 200 m ascent to it. This hill was about as steep as hills can get and still be passable, but other than the sheer effort to go up something so steep we didn’t find it difficult. Near the top, just below the lookout, we encountered a 30 m high cliff, but easily found a way around it to the right (north).
By this time the wind had died down a bit and the sun had managed to move out from behind a small Chinook arch. The views were spectacular in all directions – it is a fire lookout, afterall – and we enjoyed a fairly pleasant summit stay and lunch by sheltering on the leeward side of the lookout.
Descending from the lookout we retraced our route back to the midway point of our ascent ridge, then decided to follow a different, higher and more open ridge, back to the ATV track. This route worked very well and provided much more expansive views than had our ascent ridge. When it narrowed and became quite rocky we decided to leave the ridge and descended directly to the ATV track, connecting up with it a short distance from where we’d left it in the morning. A quick and pleasant walk then brought us back to the truck.