Association Hill
On 3 April 2016, I joined Zosia Zgolak for a hike up Association Hill which is located north of Mount Yamnuska near Alberta's Bow Valley Provincial Park.  This trip was actually someone else's idea, but in the aftermath of all the planning, that person eventually bailed leaving just Zosia and me.  Although the hike is described in Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, we took most of our inspiration from Bob Spirko's trip report.  Even then, we did not quite follow his route exactly.

From the Mount Yamnuska parking lot, we wandered east to an obvious telephone line and followed it straight uphill.  While the telephone line eventually turns eastward, we kept to a cut-line going in the same direction uphill until it petered out.  We eventually veered eastward ourselves in hopes of rounding the shoulder of Yamnuska Ridge without having to actually climb over its crest.  Travel was initially easy on the south-facing slopes of the ridge, but we encountered more bush as we turned northward.  After some moderate bushwhacking, we stumbled onto a road which appeared to be headed in the right direction.  We followed this road briefly, but after checking my GPS, I realized that the road would not lead us down to Old Fort Creek, at least not directly.  We left the road and bushwhacked downhill for a short stretch until we hit another road parallel to the first one but lower down.  This second road led us down to Old Fort Creek, and we were soon hiking along the creek bed toward our objective.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, a good trail leaves the creek and climbs up to Association Pass which separates Association Hill from its namesake peak.  Instead, we took our cue from Spirko's route and left the creek bed when it seemed feasible to climb up the lightly forested hillside.  We ended up hiking a more roundabout route to the summit than Spirko, but travel was generally easy anyway.

Zosia and I enjoyed a very pleasant 50-minute break at the top before commencing our descent.  After weaving in and out of trees for a bit going toward Association Pass, we broke out onto a big grassy slope and made a beeline for the aforementioned trail which we had spotted from the summit.  This trail took us all the way down to Old Fort Creek without fuss, but I was a bit dismayed to learn that we had earlier left the creek bed only mere metres short of the trail.  We subsequently retraced our steps along the creek bed and back up the second road.  We actually climbed most of the way over the end of Yamnuska Ridge by staying on this road, and when the road turned east, we left it to hike cross-country toward a large unnamed lake just north of Highway 1A.  After crossing a wet, marshy area, we stumbled onto yet another road on the north side of the lake and followed this road all the way back to the telephone line we had started up earlier in the day.  The entire return trip turned out to be a lot less painful than I was expecting which should make future trips to this area more enticing.

Best of all, I was privileged to share this 'accidental' hike with a most engaging companion in Zosia, and even a few uninvited ticks were not enough to ruin our wonderful day in the hills.
Oh operator, information, give me Jesus on the line... Zosia follows a series of telephone poles up the hill.
Zosia isn't even breathing hard! The cut-line peters out in a grove of aspen trees.
Don't knock heads with Zosia! Zosia finds a nice deer antler.
Looks like some fresh snow on the mountain tops too. Maybe some skiing left this season? Although it was cloudy earlier, the skies begin to clear over the peaks to the south.
Looks like we're finally getting somewhere! Zosia heads down a road leading to Old Fort Creek.  Association Peak, End Mountain and Association Hill are all visible in the distance.
Zosia has her hood up just in case she falls in! Old Fort Creek is very easy to ford.
We don't need no stinkin' trail! Leaving the creek bed, Zosia bushwhacks up the slope.

Can you spot the chain?

A clearing grants this unobstructed view of Mount Yamnuska's north face.


Zosia is still going strong; she is a machine! The ridge begins to open up a little near the top.  Association Peak looms behind the trees.
Zosia is still dreaming about ski touring! Zosia pauses just before the final rise to the top of Association Hill.
I never realized that Zosia was taller than me... Sonny and Zosia stand near the 1930-metre summit of Association Hill with End Mountain in the background.
I can almost hear the crowd of yahoos on Yam... The view to the south includes Mount Yamnuska (right).

I was never really interested in Association Peak before this day, but I guess I need to climb it now...

The east face of Association Peak dominates the view to the west.


Anybody wanna try these two with me? Here is a more comprehensive view of Association Peak and End Mountain.
And my car is parked somewhere on the other side of that ridge in the distance...sigh. Zosia follows a good trail which leads all the way down to Old Fort Creek.
Good scouting trip for a much longer outing the next time... Total Distance:  20.2 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 26 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  943 metres