Cox Hill - Spring
Date Walked: 29th March 2012
Distance: 6.5 miles (10.4km)
Actual Ascent: 2034 ft (620m)
Time Taken: 4.5 hours
The map below tells the tale of this walk, the highest summit of Cox Hill remained out of reach courtesy of excessive snow on top. I had set out to see just how hard it would be to reach a reasonable summit without snowshoes....pretty damn hard is the answer.
there was still ice in the car park at Dawson Equestrian camp-ground just off the Powderface Trail 3km from highway 68. The sun was beating down already but in the deep valley the temperature hung at -4 and ice remained on the car park puddles.
the trail starts from the North-East corner of the car park where a short walk through the trees brings you to a bridge across Jumpingpound Creek. There is clear evidence of snowshoeing along the path making easy going at these early stages
the trail makes a gentle ascent through dense forest, with a good depth of snow I'm glad of the trail breakers who have gone before me, the snow is firm enough to hold my weight without movement
there are occasional views as the ascent continues, still in good firm conditions with a steady climb
a short descent to cross a narrow ravine sees the true ascent begin, the trail is still well trodden but micro spikes were now needed to cope with ice under the surface
by the time I reached the first little plateau the trail has narrowed but at least one intrepid snowshoer has been this far which is just enough to make a decent path to follow
continuing the ascent the snow is getting progressively deeper and though it is heavy wet snow it collapses to knee depth if I step off the narrow snowshoe trail
at another overview I stop for a cuppa and consider my options, the firm path has now gone there is just sufficient change in surface to see where it used to be, I opt to carry on for a while, perhaps conditions will improve...........
after a real hack through some deep snow for over 2km I found myself on a level area, still plunging through with every other step but able to see a glimpse of the mountains on the horizon
another km or so of knee busting snow and I emerge onto the lower summit of Cox Hill to a mass of thigh deep drifts, there is still about 1km and 200m (650 feet) of ascent to go to reach the spectacular views described in my guide book. I have another cuppa and set off on one final push...........
the snow was actually thigh deep with every step and almost impossible to negotiate, I doubt I made 100metres before I turned around and headed back in my own footprints/bodysplats, I didn't stop until I reached the overlook 3km back down the trail where I had my lunch break and refitted the micro spikes for the descent
with good paths once more and the long downhill run I soon made it back to the creek crossing at the start of the trail, I wasn't too disappointed with the hike, I'd found out about the snow conditions above 6000 feet and had a good strenuous work out on another beautiful day. If this is what a relatively small hill is like I guess I'll be waiting some time yet for the big stuff......