Heinz's Report - May 30, 2003

Castle Mountain Bike and Hike

This is the second installment of our �Elk Valley Amazing Summer Adventures� reports. It covers a bike and hike up to Castle Mountain which is across the Elk Valley from Lizard Ridge and FAR. It occurred on May 25.

This was only my third ride on my new bike and after my broken wing incurred at the end of the ski season. I was somewhat concerned about given what I had read in Anita�s inaugural report on Wigwam Flats. I would have to rely on Steve�s estimate of 3 hours total bike and hike � no problem he says. Right!

We started off on our bikes from Steve�s house on Cedar Bowl Drive on the east side of the valley and up through the power line to the River Road Extension and then south along this logging road towards Morrissey. We rode mostly downhill for about 30 minutes to Extension �H�. We then continued on up this road to an old clearing and log marshalling area which was about another 45 minutes, mainly uphill. We then stashed our bikes and then hiked up along an open ridge in a new timber cut area on the south shoulder of Castle Mountain. The hike up the ridge was a very steady up with only a wee bit of loose scree rock at the very top of the mountain. Total time to the top - about three hours. Estimated vertical about 625 to 650 metres.

I couldn�t get over the energy and stamina of my partners, who had just endured an unbearable Wigwam Flats trek the day before! My lungs were screaming by the top. I put it down to: a) being my first outing of the year, b) my inactivity for the past six to eight weeks nursing my wounded shoulder and ribs, or c) the good life at Fernie � i.e. the beer at the weekly pub nights, the scotch club, the amazing five course brunches at Lizard Creek and my daughter�s cookies. Probably, it was d) all of the above.

The trip was worth it though. We enjoyed a fantastic view across the Elk Valley to Lizard Range and FAR and down to the City of Fernie. There was still some snow at the top on the north side (but nothing like what Bernie had at the top of Polar this week) and some very unusual looking trees at the top damaged by some ancient storm. Steve brought his dog Kaz along for the trek and he was a hoot. He had the advantage on us on the way up as I swear he went up to the top and then back down to check on us at least three times before we dragged ourselves to the top. On the way down we had the upper hand though with our bikes and we had to wait a few times for him to catch up. When he did, he didn�t stop and just kept on walking by and I do think I learned some new dog swear words.

Everything on the way down was much easier and faster. The bike back on the logging roads was swift and mainly smooth. We even encountered a small grizzly on the way that quickly dodged into the trees. The time down was exactly half of the way up � one and a half hours. So the total trip was around four and a half hours plus about an hour�s rest on top. Not quite the three hours Steve predicted, but then we already know about his prediction skills from Anita�s report.

This is definite recommend and an excellent warm-up trek for the more substantial adventures coming up. On top we met another group who had come up on the north side from Coal Creek Road � number 29/30 on the Fernie Biking and Hiking Trail Map, but I think Steve�s bike/hike combo is a better call. More variety and a more direct route up to the top.

And, oh I didn�t crash Anita!

Heinz - heinzr@far.redtree.com

Steve on the top of the cliff on Castle Mountain.

Steve, Kaz, Fernie Dave and Calgary Dave on the top. FAR across the valley.

Panorama of the Lizard Range and FAR from Island Lodge on the right to Siberia Bowl on the left.

Steve in his lounge chair in the Weird Trees.

Kaz � six years young and terrific mountain dog.

Panaroma of the entire Elk Valley from the Three Sisters on the right to Broadwood Mtn at the end of the valley on the left. If you want the high res file, email me. It�s 1.5 mb in size and 40 inches long by 6 inches high!

Today�s crew. Looking good!