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Evelyn Peak

Moderate Scramble, Bush-Thrash Approach
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Very Dense and Overgrown On the Approach
Saturday, September 5, 2015

The September long weekend is historically associated with unsavory weather and unreliable forecasts, this year it lead up to its reputation.  With some forecasts calling for outright downpours and others only partly cloudy Vern and I tried to decide on a reasonable objective.  After some deliberation we decided on Evelyn Peak, a less known (though not that much lower) peak behind Mount Kerkeslin.  I had previously been up in that area 3 years prior but didn't make the summit due to time constraints.  Armed with the knowledge that there is a trail (if very overgrown) we set off from the pullout on the parkway between Hardisty and Kerkeslin.

The first part of the approach follows an initially flagged trail accessed from the old road at the turnoff.  Once on the trail it is easy to follow and comfortably lead us onwards below the treed slopes of Mount Hardisty amongst pleasent bush.  The trail steadily winds towards Kerkeslin Creek gaining some elevation along the way.


Setting out from the turnoff (HW 93 just to the right of Vern).


The trail is actually quite nice for the first part.


Vern crossing the bridge.


The character of the bush changes considerably after an old bridge is encountered 3 km from the car.  Legend tells that this was a maintained trail back in the 70s and the bridge dates from then.  Thankfully it has been fortified more recently with more logs to make it passable.  After crossing the bridge the trail is still (usually) present, pay close attention to following blazes, but becomes quite overgrown.  On the way in the bush was still soaked from recent precipitation and we were swiftly very soaked and chilled.  Progress was slow in places and we were longing for the boulder field that marks the end of the bush-thrash.


This is actually on the trail after the bridge ;)


Lovely open terrain, complete with pink flags!


A time longer we hit that boulder field and gradually started to dry off (which was much appreciated!).  We were surprised at the amount of recent flagging marking a decent route to the lake and even saw some recent bootprints (amidst the best bear sign scattered around the area).  Views up towards Kerkeslin from the inlet to the lake were quite good and made the bushwhacking feel worthwhile.  Carrying on down the lakeshore hopping on logs we were quite surprised at the sandy beaches along the east shore.  Looking up towards Evelyn Peak we were happy to see a slabby dry gully going most of the way up to the peak.  After setting up our bivy gear down by the lake we set off up the gully.  From far away the gully looked slabby and steep but thankfully when we got closer the slabs were actually not too steep and there were easy paths through the bush on the climbers left or right to bypass the slabs if they were wet.  


Further along the trail becomes mossy but mostly free of bush.


Walking along the lakeshore actually worked out well, based on tracks bears agree!


Not often you can get a sandy beach camp in the Rockies!


Warmer image of the camp.


Looking up at our ascent gully, slabby but fairly dry.


Wandering upwards progress seemed quite slow (damned foreshortened gullies) with the snowline above gradually inching closer.  Once hitting the snow we trended climbers left up snow covered rock/moss than was very slippery in places.  Snow levels had accumulated to mostly less than knee deep with the odd 'rock-anklebiter' going down chest deep.  Higher up there were patches of snow that were sustained chest deep, ah the Rockies, start of September can be full on winter.  Like the gully below the snow section seemed to go slower than expected more concerningly as we were going upwards the false summit further to the south seemed to be looking higher and higher than the summit we were aiming for, hopefully we didn't have to traverse all the way over there!  Thankfully ten minutes later or so the true summit came into view and after gaining the last few meters it indeed looked higher than the south summit.  Summit views were better than we were anticipating given the forecast for the weekend with surprisingly good views to the north and very much less good views to the south (we were quite glad we didn't go for McGuire at this point!).  It was getting fairly chilly on the summit (despite the surprising lack of wind) so we retraced our steps back down to the lake and set up snapping photos of any evening-glow that might have turned up.


A fair bit of upward slab walking in boots.


Things started to get more slippery higher up.


Thankfully views back towards Kerkeslin kept up motivated.


Looking down at Vern once the trailbreaking started to get more intensive.


Kerkeslin is a great looking peak from any angle!


Wider view giving hints at the even better views northwards to come from the summit.


At last the summit is visible.


Looking back towards the other summit.


Quite a ncie viewpoint, shame about the clouds down the parkway.


Zoomed in views to the west and north.


Back down we go before it starts to get too chilly.


HDR of Kerkeslin peak and lake.


Back down at snowline, our boots can start drying off!


Back down by the lake, blisfully windless today.


Not a bad view at all.


Vern catching some evening-glow on Evelyn Peak.


Surprisingly nice colors given all the clouds.


Night view on the lake.


Long exposures often make for interesting lighting!



The next morning we woke up a little after sunrise and made our way back down.  The warmer temperatures and brief window of sunshine the previous day had dried off the bush on the approach which made it actually kind of pleasant (at least compared to some of the bushwhacks we had done in the past).  Given the big difference in experiences between the wet approach on the way in and dry deproach on the way out I would very recommend waiting until the bush is dry before heading in to this area.  That being said the lake behind Kerkeslin is a lovely place and certainly worth a trip at some point.


The next morning lookout south towards Windy Castle.


Back by the rock-hopping, lots of flags around.


Vern inspecting some interesting growths on the trees.


Not far distance-wise but the bush makes it seem quite remote!

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