Date: October 13, 2018
Summit Elevation: 2542 m
Total Elevation Gain: 939 m
Total Distance: 11.7 km
Round Trip Time: 5:16
Difficulty Notes: Class 2
Most of the hike is on a good trail through the trees. Sections of the final ridge are a bit exposed.
GPS Track: Mt-Burke
And the four idiots headed up the mountain in a whiteout.-Nathan
Snow Dome Base Camp. May 20, 2018.
Those words echoed in my mind was we drove to the trailhead for Mt. Burke. A snowstorm had hit us shortly after we left Okotoks. We were all glad to have a day out in the mountains, but I was disappointed that we weren’t going to be able to enjoy the expansive views that had so impressed me when I first came to this area last October.
The storm passed as we drove on, and we hit the trail with renewed hope. We started hiking down the road through Cataract Creek Campground and turned east shortly after crossing Salter Creek. Vern continued along the creek for quite some time before starting up the mountain. We followed a path along the creek for a little ways until it seemed to disappear on us. We then cut north and found a very clear trail headed straight for Mt. Burke. There is one big downhill section on this trail—maybe that is what Vern was trying to avoid—but otherwise it worked pretty well for us. On the way back we were able to follow this trail all the way to the road.
We got some fine views just above treeline. We met a hunter on his way down. It sounded like he had gone to the start of the ridge, had a nice look around and then came back. He missed out on a perfectly good summit…or maybe he was the wise one…
The tracks ended at the ridge, and we had to break trail the rest of the way across. The clouds also started to close in and the wind picked up. The snow wasn’t too bad overall, but there were a couple sections where I was forcing my way through waist deep snow and wondering why I wasn’t turning back.
The storm was getting pretty bad by the time we reached the summit. We were excited to take shelter inside the lookout and enjoy our lunches. Alas, the lookout provided little shelter—the wind almost seemed stronger inside than it was outside. So we had a quick snack and made our way back to the safety of the trees.
Once we were back inside the trees we actually started appreciating the snowstorm that menaced us on the ridge. The winds were gone and the snow slowly tumbled down in thick flakes. We paused for a warm lunch and a few swigs of tea and then made our way back down, dreaming of skiing.