Old Baldy Loop Attempt

October 05, 2014, at 04:00 AMerika

Lidia, Lisa, Eileen and I met up and decided to go hike Old Baldy according to the "Where the Locals Hike" guide book this past Sunday. It was a glorious day, with +15oC weather. The leaves were changing colour and falling, and there was a gentle crispness of fall in the air. And brilliant blue sky too! While the trail itself was impossible to find after a stretch, we did get a good hike in, going up in the direction of the Old Baldy Knoll. Read more...

We had a glorious 10am start, as it had been a long week, and getting a bit of a sleep in seemed worthwhile rather than a crack-of-dawn start. We weren't quite sure which trails to head off on - waffling between Old Baldy, and Wasootch. Something close by and manageable in a reasonable time. As one of us had done Wasootch already this season, we went to check out Old Baldy. A quick Tims pick up, and we were off to K-Country.

I brought maps and Lisa brought the guide book. However neither of us really bothered to read in advance where we were going or what the descriptions were. So nice to be more laid back about it. The trail starts as an old road, and is likely quite popular with horsefolk, as evidenced by the hitching posts in the parking lot. There's a cairn hidden by bushes which kick starts the Old Baldy trail, before the first flood-ravaged creek. Else you'll continue your merry way along the Evan Thomas trail. Writing this after having hiked it, the trail is supposed to follow this creek along the north side, eventually coming a small pond or lake. At that point, one can find a route up and around the Old Baldy Knoll. However, at the time, we just followed the trail. Clearly Parks has begun trail repair. Some sections were tremendously washed out, with 15 metre drops down to the creek floor. Eventually the trail parallels the creek more closely, but is hard to discern between all the fallen trees and debris. Unintentionally taking point, I had us follow what seemed like a well travelled trail up the side of the hill, rather than following the creek (as at that point I hadn't actually reviewed the map).

The vertical is fairly decent, and the return had a couple of small slips, though nothing to write home about (despite the included mentioning herein ;-) ). Surrounded mostly by trees, the dirt trail makes its way steeply up the side of Old Baldy, and eventually comes out at a well established boulder field. It looked fairly stable, but the remainder of the group were nervous (likely from Sentinel a few weeks back) and we decided to have lunch before a) checking out the map and discovering we'd taken our own route, and b) heading back down. Lidia brought fancy almond butter-covered apples, while Eileen had fancy spaghetti. Delicious conversations about pulled pork and good meals.

Heading back down to the creek, we decided to see where the actual trail is. Unfortunately 10 minutes up the creekbed it became very challenging to find the trail. The trail itself was likely washed out, and there were many downed trees blocking the creekbed, or at least making it more challenging to find our way around it. Rather than struggle through it, we wondered if the other side of the creek had a parallel trail being made up. Alas no, but we scrambled up the side of a small hill before finding a beautiful golden meadow. Prior years must've seen it burnt out from either a controlled burn or forest fire, but the trees had yet to re-establish themselves. We reveled in the gorgeous sun, and meandered our way along the meadow which ran parallel to the creek. Eventually we dipped back into the trees, crossed the creek and returned back along the trail we had come from.

Oh, there were some amazingly funky looking mushrooms. Kudos to Lidia for having such keen eyes! A few squirrels were running around the area, and a chipmunk which I never did see up at lunch time. And a glorious hawk? raven? bird of prey with a huge wingspan flew above us at lunch. We could see four other hikers along the neighbouring ridge, and had 2 also exploring the knoll's boulder field, but otherwise it was a fairly quiet trail. Though we all chatted along the way. Something about health and unions, screamfest and new music, and Thanksgiving plans. A really nice day all told.

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