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Mount Cumnock

Easy Scramble
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Dense in places, very overgrown, prime bear terrain
Friday, August 2, 2013

After looking at the forecast for the long weekend I decided to switch around my schedule and trade Thursday for Monday to get better weather around Jasper. Steven had been signed up for a big trek on the parkway but the unfavourable forecast derailed those plans so he came along. After some discussion of objectives on the drive over we went back to my original plan, an exploratory trip back up the Celestine Lake road to summit Mount Cumnock.

Mount Cumnock is the middle peak of the De Smet Range, just north of Vine Pass and as such is accessed from the (decommissioned) Vine Creek trail which is a short drive east of the Coral Creek crossing on the Celestine Lake road. After having been up the trail last year for Roche De Smet itself I must say that this year is much more overgrown!

Setting out from the Vine Creek trailhead at the (later than planned) hour of 7 we made good time up the trail and soon passed the (decommissioned) Vine Creek campsite and warden cabin and were off into the swampy wetlands towards Cumnock. Luckily after following a trail north from the warden cabin we were delighted to find that there was an old horse path leading towards Cumnock that was still in decent shape. That being said the trail is more of a trench and is completely overgrown (and will soak you in the morning, bring waterproof pants!) but is still much more efficient than pure bushwhacking. After a slog through the bushes the trail led back into pleasant old growth forest and though there was plenty of log hopping brought us to a good spot to access Cumnock.

Leaving the trail and heading down to creek towards Cumnock we quickly gained the lower part of Cumnock's ridge and slowly wound our way up deadfall laden slopes towards the red rocks of Cumnock's summit ridge. No difficulties heading up the deadfall slope (beyond avoiding breaking an ankle) but after slogging up it for an hour hitting rock was definitely a welcome change! Once on the summit ridge it is just a walk to the summit.

Plenty of rarely seen (and even less often visited) peaks in Jasper's backcountry are visible from the summit which spurred all manner of plans for future expeditions. Today was quite hazy which limited visibility but there would be a great view of Robson in better conditions! After taking in the views we made good time on the trail back down to avoid the forecasted thunderstorms in the afternoon (which never actually showed up, but good to be safe I suppose). Another good trek up the Celestine Lake road!


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