Zenfolio | Matthew Clay | Clubs and Spades Peaks, June 2, 2018
Visitors 13
45 photos

Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 525 m
View map
Download GPS track

Clubs Peak and Spades Peak are two unofficially named peaks along Hastings Ridge in the Crowsnest Pass area. They, along with nearby Hearts and Poker Peaks, derive their name from the nearby officially-named Maverick Hill. I’d hiked Hearts and Poker last year around this time and figured I’d might as well pick up the next two – and as it turned out, the third one as well – on this trip.

I parked in a small pullout at the highpoint of the Adanac Road, identified by a cattle guard and a new sign indicating the border of Castle Provincial Park. Access to Clubs Peaks is via a dirt road and I could’ve easily driven it in the truck, but decided I’d rather walk it instead.

After walking along the gently-graded dirt road for just under 2 km I arrived at a T-intersection at the base of diminutive Clubs Peak. I correctly guessed left was the best way to go and shortly found myself at the base of Clubs Peak grassy southern slope. An easy walk later and I was on the summit.

I took the usual dozens of photos, explored the summit plateau a bit, then turned to the northeast and headed down grassy and flowering slopes, planning to connect back up with the dirt road. The route was largely pleasant walking with a bit of deadfall, right up until the last 50 m or so. Here new forest growth and copious forest-fire deadfall combined to make travel terrible enough that it probably would’ve made more sense to simply have descended the way I’d come up.

Back on the road I turned north to head for Spades Peak, immediately encountering a Y-intersection. The main road headed left down into a valley, while the road heading for Spades Peak went right, contouring along the west slope of Hastings Ridge. Ever since I’d conceived this trip I’d been debating whether to follow this road or to forge my own way along the crest of Hastings Ridge. The entire area was burned in 2003 and copious deadfall and impossibly thick regrowth rendered off-trail travel near impossible. I knew of someone who had travelled the road last fall and noted some deadfall, but satellite imagery showed a nice and mostly deadfall-free line along the ridgecrest. Eventually I decided on the road, rationalizing that as it was signed as an OHV trail that someone would’ve gone through with a chainsaw at some point and cleared it out a bit.

This turned out to be a huge mistake. While travel was initially easy with just a few leaning trees I could duck under, about a third of the way to the peak – just far enough along that I didn’t want to turn back – the deadfall got dramatically worse. The angle of the road meant that the trees got hung up at various angles, some of which I could climb over, others that I could duck under, and many of which were at the wrong angle for either maneuver. In most cases all three scenarios existed within feet of each other and I ended up acrobatically twisting and contorting my way through the mess for over a kilometer. Sharp pointy branches added to the adventure.

Eventually I reached the open and grassy slopes of Spades Peak and charged directly up to the summit. I took some photos, then turned my attention to plotting a route to the crest of Hastings Ridge, rationalizing that my backup route choice had to be better than what I’d endured along the old road.

After descending from the summit I backtracked a short distance along the road, then followed a tract of deadfall-free vegetation halfway to the crest of Hastings Ridge. A little bit of bushwhacking later and I was on the crest. It was, of course, covered in forest fire deadfall, but it had all fallen flat along here and so I could just step over it. In addition, it appeared that firefighters had built a firebreak along the east side of the ridge, so when I got tired of hopping over deadfall I could just do some minor deadfall-free sidehilling along it.

Travel along the ridge was vastly superior to the old road until the final few hundred meters, at which point deadfall and new growth thickened considerably. It was terrible, but I think this route still comes in ahead of the old road.

Once back on the main dirt road I made my way quickly back to the truck. I was quite tired by this point, but didn’t want to end my day on such an annoying note, so decided to tackle the granddaddy of these poker-themed peaks: Maverick Hill.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory:Outdoors
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Castle Provincial Park, Clubs Peak, Spades Peak, hiking