Sunday, 8 November 2009

Horton Hill? Ha!

In 27 years of hiking in the neighborhood, I always struggle to find fall shoulder season hiking. Spring shoulder season is easy; lots of hiking is available in May when the skiing season ends. But between late September and early December, hiking tends to be spotty, and of course, the ski hills are not yet open.

So I was pleased when Gillean Daffern recommended the Horton Hill hike here as a shoulder hike. Looking at the map, it had all the makings of a good idea today, with bright sunshine and +4° temps. However, the directions Gillean offers are atrocious and misleading, and the trail is non existant, at least as far as we got.

Her instructions to start the hike are:
Park at Canoe Meadows parking lot on Hwy. 40. Walk out to the highway and turn right. At the K Country boundary sign, climb the grassy bank on the opposite side of the road and follow the powerline right-of-way a short distance to the right. Just past a broken-down fence turn left and shortcut up to a logging road. Turn left and follow this road up a long hill to a T-junction. Turn right on another logging road that climbs into the cutblock on the west slope of the hill.

Here's the alleged "T-Junction", which as you can see isn't a junction at all:

In fact, it's so not obviously a junction that we walked right by it, and past it by over a kilometer. It's also not at the top (or even part way up) a hill at all, having gained a mere 20 m from the broken fence. So here's the "another logging road" that she wants you to turn onto:

Road? What road?

Farther down the "road" from this mess, whatever has thus far passed as a road (more like a bulldozer track) turns into this:

Kinda gives you the feeling that the alleged "road" really doesn't exist. There's no trail at all, so you have to clamber over and around all of these trees. Bush-bashing is far more enjoyable.

On top of this, the topo map that Gillean shows on her site is incorrect. The power-line marked on the map doesn't exist, and in fact, there's no sign of it. So if you wander up the road looking for the power-line as a landmark ro find the right turn, well, you're out of luck.

I can say that if you miss the turn and continue along the actual logging road, you'll eventually get to fenceline and meadow marked on the topo, and arrive at a TeePee camp used by the Tim Hortons folks.

The road is flat, muddy and boring, but had lots of tracks on it, including elk, deer, cougar, bobcat, coyote and wolf.

We wandered up and down the road for over an hour trying to find the route and finally gave up when we ran across all the downed trees laying across the "road" pictured above. We went back to Canoe Meadows and watched the kayakers play in the race course area (which looked really cold to me).

So having never made it, I can't attest to what climbing Horton Hill is actually like. But I can say that you should expect challenges following Gillean's "route" should you try to do it.


Astrid said...

When are you guys going to write a trail guide? I know you want to ... Gillian Daffern is daft!

Our favourite is still...

while on a tree covered trail ... turn left 200m before the bridge

Derek & Karen said...

Generally, I like Gillean's books, and she does a darn sight better than I could ever do. On this particular post, and my comment on the Horton Hike at, she took umbrage to my comments, however...