Distance: 18.5 km
Elevation gain: 1060 m View map Download GPS track
After strenuous ascents up White Man
and Red Man
Mountains Sandra and I took a rest day, then decided to hike up an outlier of Marvel Peak today. Sometimes referred to as Little Marvel, this peak first came to my attention after Matt Hobbs climbed it in 2016, naming it Penny’s Peak
in honor of his daughter. Unlike our previous two trips this excursion would be largely on official trail, the luxury of which we were very much looking forward to.
Our day began much like the others on this trip: An early wakeup to beat the heat followed by a long drive on dirt road. We followed the same road route as we had for Mount Alcantara
, except continued to its end by Aurora Creek.
From the large parking lot we picked up the obvious trail, following it as it gradually ascended through open forest. Abundant wildflowers, occasional views of the surrounding mountains, varied forest and terrain, and the cool morning air made for engaging and very enjoyable travel. It had been awhile since we’d hiked on trail and I’d forgotten how pleasantly easy it is! With very few areas that were even remotely steep we made excellent time, and by the time the sun was peeking over Aurora Mountain we were over 5 km into the hike.
We reached a beautiful lake to the southeast of the peak just under 7 km and only 90 leisurely minutes from the truck, and after snapping some photos and exploring an old unfinished cabin on its shoreline (and getting eaten by swarming mosquitos, of course) we headed for the peak. I got a bit confused about where to go at this point, largely due to several official and unofficial trails in the area, but sorted it out with a little help from my GPS. It’s not hard: Just head northeast and be sure you’re gaining elevation and you’ll eventually end up on the summit!
The majority of the ascent from the lake was through beautiful larch meadows and very straightforward. The final 100 vertical meters (about 600 m horizontal) was over talus, and while there were a few narrow sections and a minor sense of exposure, it was never more difficult than a very easy scramble.
We reached the summit in just 3 hours 20 minutes at a leisurely pace with several breaks. A family of mountain goats greeted us as we peered down the north ridge, and the view of Mount Alcantara
, the Assiniboine group, and the meadows and lakes below was absolutely spectacular! It was very distracting too, as in the 10 or so minutes I spent staring at Assinboine I didn’t notice the clouds rapidly building to the southwest. What had been a nearly cloud-free sky at 10:20 was almost completely clouded over by 10:40! We’d planned to hang out on top for quite some time, but with the weather deteriorating so fast we only had time for a quick lunch before we retreated to the safety of the meadows.
I wasn’t in the mood to race back out and instead took my time photographing flowers along the trail as the clouds continued to build and darken. It seemed inevitable that we’d get rained on, so I figured I might as well enjoy the trip before that started. In the end the rain held off until we were about 3 km from the truck, but it came down heavy and within minutes we were soaked. After 5 days of temperatures peaking above 30 degrees, however, it was quite pleasant!
Penny’s Peak is an amazing hike in a spectacular area and made for an excellent end to our Kootenay scrambling and camping trip!