Heinz's Report - June 26, 2004

Morrissey Ridge Camping/Walk

This is the first report of the �Elk Valley Amazing Summer Adventures� series started last year. Our little group has completed some other adventures since the ski hill closed; snowshoe hikes into Lost Boys, Mongolia and Fish bowls, and the mandatory warm-up to Castle Mountain (see May 30, 2003 report). But pressing �deadlines in paradise�, surgery and a cool, wet start to the summer have kept me from posting a new report until now.

On June 21, 2004, our group decided to take the next step up in our little adventures by extending them to an overnight camping event on Morrissey Ridge to experience the shortest night of the year and catch both the sunset and sunrise in the Elk Valley. Since this was the first camping experience for some of our 50�s something group in 25 to 30 years (a.k.a., the kids have grown up and left, the motor home or fifth wheel has been sold and it�s time to regress to our original youth), we decided to break ourselves in by doing a �truck camping� event. This meant we could still bring some of the luxuries we have become accustomed to, such as; tables and lawn chairs, heavy duty stoves, coolers and of course the absolute necessity � wine and champagne for breakfast! The heavy duty hiking camping may come later this summer if we survived this initiation.

After our convoy of trucks navigated the sketchy road up the back side of Morrissey Ridge, accessible from the Matheson Creek Road (second right off Coal Creek Road), we set up camp on a fairly flat parking spot with glorious 360 degree views and down into the Elk Valley. A brief thundershower tested Steve�s tarp erecting skills, but didn�t dampen our spirits. Watching the sun set off to the North West sitting around the roaring campfire was a special treat.

I was the only camper who was able to get up early enough the next morning to catch the sunrise and watch the sunlight make its way down into the Elk Valley. This has been on my �to-do� list and experiencing it on the summer solstice made it even more special to me. As the rest of the troupe slowly crawled out of their sleeping bags they proceeded to produce a very sumptuous breakfast featuring Mike�s goat cheese omelletes, Nancy�s home-made sticky buns, Dave�s crispy bacon, fresh strawberries, champagne and orange juice. Now this is camping! The dogs � for some of us our current live at home children � had first row seats waiting for their share.

After digesting the feast, we decided to do some hiking and see how far we could get out on the ridge towards Castle Mountain. There was still some snow left on the leeward (east) side of the ridge and the mandatory boot skiing was enjoyed (Dr. Kwan � I did not inhale!). We made it out as far as we could, as we had to head back and break camp in time to deal with some of those nagging commitments, but we decided that making it to Castle Mountain is doable. Perhaps at a later date and maybe a different arrangement of vehicles to allow us to make it a one way out trip.

All in all, a superb way to bring in the summer and break into camping once again.

Our campsite on the edge of Morrissey Ridge, overlooking the Elk Valley and the setting sun.

The setting sun (approx 280 degrees). The little pointy peak to the left of the sun is Mt. Fisher in the Columbia Valley.

The roaring campfire keeps us warm as the night chill sets in.

Camping in 21st century - wine and a GPS! Now, where exactly are we? Who cares, I have my Zinfandel.

The rising sun (approx 15 degrees). The big peak to the left of the sun is Crowsnest Mtn in the Crowsnest Pass in Alberta.

The sunlight on the top of Lizard Ridge. The snowy patch in the centre is Lizard Bowl at the ski hill. All during the morning, these clouds flowed down the valley just like a fluffy Elk River (albeit at 1500 m instead of 1000m) until crashing into Mt. Broadwood at the south end of the valley.

Our little tent with the sun rising on the Three Sisters in the background.

Boot skiing down the snow on Morrissey Ridge. Castle Mountain is barely visible above West Fernie below on the left.

The ski hill across the Elk Valley.

Our troupe for this adventure.