Heinz's Report - July 29, 2004

A Double Header Shake and Bake

Summer has finally hit the Elk Valley with consecutive hot sunny days. Our gang decided to hit the river to cool down and take our annual �ducky� float from Sparwood to Fernie. I didn�t include any pictures for this - our report from August 11, 2003 will more than suffice. Our twist this year was to finish at the Rip N� Richard restaurant�s parking lot at the south (some call it the west, some call it the second) bridge in Fernie. This was to ensure we could have mugs of cold beer waiting for us after the long, scorching trip. Also, the gang kept me in tight check this time so I wouldn�t wander off on some uncharted part of the river like last year!

After cooling off on the deck, Steve suggested we take on the Three Sisters the following day. I guess it was the beer, or the fact that last year (see July 14, 2003 report) we only managed to stay at the top for about 20 minutes because of the extreme cold. We eventually agreed. It took Steve at least to the second mug to get everyone to buy into his �plan�. And as with the Ridge Walk this year, it would be the first ascent for many of us - including the first ever hike for Lori!

The Three Sisters are the highest mountain group in the Elk Valley, with the center peak a full mile above the town of Fernie. The beginning of the trail head is officially called the Mountain Lakes Trail (it goes from Hartley Lake to Island Lake), but in the valley it is referred to as Heiko�s Trail � after Heiko Socher, the previous owner and developer of Fernie Alpine Resort who actually conceived of and personally built this beautiful trail. Refer to our previous reports of June 8, 2003 and October 11, 2003 for details of the hike. The trail head is listed as 4,650 feet ASL, so the total vertical gain of the Three Sisters hike is about 4,500 feet or 1,400 metres. You should give yourself at least 4 hours to reach the top. An early start is mandatory, especially if you want to avoid the heat of the day for the ascent. We took about 5 � hours, partly because this was the first ascent for some of the group, but also because we took a leisurely lunch at the Saddle before tackling the scree slope to the top.

Unlike last year, the Three Sisters were in a much friendlier mood this year and the day was superb � not too hot with a good breeze to cool us down. When we all made it to the top, we spent a good hour and a half taking in the splendid views. On the way up we saw deer and mountain goats and the flowers in the meadow were in full bloom. We thought it couldn�t get any better!

By mid-afternoon, we reluctantly packed up and started to make our way down. Some of us who were more fit decided to �run� down, while others took a more leisurely pace to protect the ailing knees. On the way down, the afternoon shadows on Mt. Bisarro entranced us. After a long 10-hour day we made it back to the Rip N� Richard�s deck and enjoyed the rewards of conquering the Three Sisters and a grueling two days of �Elk Valley Amazing Summer Adventures�.

The final ascent to the Three Sisters on the scree slope.

The flowers were in full bloom in the meadow on Heiko's Trail.

Across the alpine meadow on Heiko's Trail. The saddle is visible in the distance.

The view from the Saddle. Mt Bisarro on the left. The scree slope starts on the right.

Calgary Dave in his traditional pose on our hikes.

The view dwon into the Elk Valley. The town of Fernie over 5,000 ft below and off in the distance.

The view to the north behind the Three Sisters. Mt. Bisarro on the left, Mt. Hosmer on the right.

Kathy and Paul take a break to enjoy the views and sun.

The view back to the setting sun from the meadow.

Our troupe for the past two days.