Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 1000 m Route map
I’ve been trying to get out more than usual this past year, so after hiking near the Ya Ha Tinda with Sandra yesterday, Alison and I headed south for a hike today. We had several objectives in mind, but strong winds, low cloud, and flurries had us stick to our backup plan: An easy and snow-free hike up Fly Hill, located just west of the confluence of the Oldman River and Racehorse Creek.
We parked at the end of a short road running above the north bank of Racehorse Creek, then started hiking along a good trail paralleling the creek. Almost immediately we gained 60 m of elevation, then lost it all again as the trail descended back down to the creek. This was a sign of things to come as the rolling terrain would have us cumulatively gain 1000 m to climb just 600 m higher than where we started. It was definitely a good workout!
Shortly after descending back to creek level we turned into the forest and made our way up a grassy slope, generally following the ridge as it turned westward. When we reached the highpoint of this ridge the summit of Fly Hill came into sight for the first time and revealed the remainder of our undulating route, starting with the loss of 100 m of elevation we’d just gained. Travel remained easy, however, and the ascent of the next highpoint was equally straightforward.
The descent from the second highpoint and initial ascent to the summit ridge was the most difficult part of this easy day, but only because we ended up bushwhacking through moderate bush far longer than necessary. Regardless, it didn’t take particularly long for us to find another open grassy slope which we followed to the summit ridge, albeit a bit further to the south than we’d planned.
An easy walk along the wide ridge and a short ascent then brought us to the cliffs guarding the summit. We easily found a short gully breaching the cliff band just to the right of where the ridge reached the cliff and scrambled up it, then made our way along the ridge to the unmarked summit. Unfortunately the view to the east – the only view unobstructed by the summit forest – was marred by extensive clearcut logging, while the partial view to the west revealed only bits of mountains enveloped in cloud. For a shoulder-season hike on a lousy weather day, however, the view was still quite respectable.
We didn’t linger long and instead retraced our path back down, arriving back at the trailhead just 5 hours after we’d set out. While the view hadn’t quite been what I expected, the frighteningly strong forecast wind had never materialized and we even had a bit of sun, plus hiking is always better than staying home and it was great to get in two days of hiking this weekend!