Burnt Timber Lookout
Looking for an easy day out in the hills, Linda Breton, Dan Millar, Kelly Wood and I took a long drive out to the headwaters of Burnt Timber Creek on 25 March 2006 to hike up Burnt Timber Lookout (deactivated).  Starting from near an active gas well, we bypassed an old gate and followed ATV tracks up the snow-covered access road.  While the footing was slippery in places, the hiking was generally easy.  Unfortunately, I was fighting a sore throat which really had me gasping for breath at times.  Dan also dropped his brand new digital camera at one point and had to backtrack quite a distance to retrieve it.  As a result, our progress along the road was slow.  It did not help that the road actually takes a long detour around a steep, forested ridge.  This detour adds significant distance and, worse, entails quite an annoying elevation loss.  Three hours after leaving my car, we finally reached the lookout site and were rewarded with pleasing views despite the overcast sky.  Thankfully, the winds were calm, and we took an extended break before starting our return trip.  On the way back, Linda checked her GPS and suggested that we should take a short cut down the aforementioned steep, forested ridge.  Everyone agreed to give it a try.  The short cut ultimately included a little bit of everything--post-holing, route-finding, down-climbing, bushwhacking, glissading--and turned out to be more fun than the rest of the hike!  All too soon, we were back on the road and had an unremarkable walk back to my car.  Our round-trip time was a little over 5 hours (plus another 15 minutes to change a flat tire on my car--doh!).  Overall, the rather mundane hike to Burnt Timber Lookout hardly justifies the long drive to get out there, but for me, the enjoyable company made this outing worthwhile nonetheless.

Check out Linda's perspective here.
Watch out for all the doggy doo in front of the building! Mountain Aire Lodge, near the confluence of Red Deer and Panther Rivers, is a nice place to take a break after a long drive up Highway 940.
Good doggy! Linda pets Mountain Aire Lodge's most charming attraction.
Must be fun working here... Everyone gears up just across the road from a gas well.
An ATV is definitely the way to go up this road! Having good company helps as the hike up the road to the lookout is rather tedious and scenery-deprived.
Reminds me a lot of the approach to Moose Mountain. This is the final climb up to the lookout site.
The road actually zig-zags here, but the ATV track goes straight up. Kelly and Linda pause to catch their breaths.  Their return route (short cut) would eventually follow the forested ridge in the background.
Dan's already at the top. Linda and Kelly make the final push to the top.
Not absolutely sure, but I think the peak in the middle is Mount Oliver. Kelly walks across the broad plateau to a survey marker near the lookout site.
That's a big cookie sticking out of Dan's mouth! Dan, Kelly, Sonny, and Linda take a break on top of Burnt Timber Lookout (2320 metres).
It's ironic that we saw smoke from this deactivated lookout and even more ironic that earlier we were talking about marijuana! Is it a UFO?  No, it's just Kelly tossing a rock in the air.  Meanwhile, Linda watches some smoke rising in the distance.
Who wants some mutton for dinner? On the way down, Linda and Kelly observe a herd of sheep grazing by the side of the fire road.
That sheep knows how to mug for the camera! One of the sheep appears to be sticking its tongue out.
The short cut saves a lot of time and elevation, but it's probably only worthwhile for the return trip. Taking the short cut, Kelly slips and slides down a steep slope as Dan and Linda watch from above.
I've had really bad luck running over nails! Sonny changes a flat tire at the end of the hike.