Since Spirko's 2018 trip, Death's Head has been logged extensively, and much of the southern approach has been denuded of trees. Starting at a locked gate, we initially hiked along a logging road before abandoning it to climb up a scrubby cut block. Remnants of trails can be found here and there, but the terrain is so open that it is impossible to get lost or go astray. As such, we had few difficulties climbing over a false summit and reaching the true high point of Death's Head. As we approached the high point, a couple of hunters were heading in the opposite direction, and they did not hide their displeasure with our group's presence there. They were hunting for a moose in the area, and the noise from our group had apparently chased off their prey much to their chagrin. Bob, who was in the lead, had run into them earlier, and they had made it clear that we were not welcomed there. Personally, I have little tolerance for being bullied on public land and even less so by moose hunters, and I was more than happy to see that most of our group seemed inured to the hunters' negative attitudes.
On the high point of Death's Head, we celebrated Halloween with some amusing trick-or-treating before resuming hiking. Bob was most concerned about driving out Gorge Creek Trail with his car, and he decided to quickly retrace his steps back the way we came in order to try and beat the thawing of the road (he successfully made it out and subsequently went for a second hike by himself up nearby Square Butte). The rest of us headed northwest for about a hundred metres to visit a scenic viewpoint before dropping down wooded slopes to the west to intersect North Fork Trail. Upon gaining the trail, we followed it southward for about a kilometre before turning east to climb up a steep cut line. Where the cut line crests a ridge, we took another extended break for lunch before crossing a cut block and shallow ravine to regain the same logging road that we had started hiking on at the beginning. Even as we walked back to our cars, we could tell that the muddy ground had thawed which did not bode well for our drive out.
Back at our cars, we noticed that the truck belonging to the hunters was gone, but they had left us a rather unfriendly note on one of our windshields. We all had a good laugh and were grateful that the hunters did not shoot holes in all our vehicles! The scariest part of the day though turned out to be driving out Gorge Creek Trail. Just as Bob had feared, the frozen mud had thawed which made the mostly downhill drive back to North Fork Provincial Recreation Area dangerously slippery. Fortunately, we all made it out safely without any incidents, and at the junction with Highway 549, everyone stopped for a final round of jovial socializing before parting ways and heading home.
A big thank you goes out to Zosia for
organizing this special Halloween hike which turned into an excellent
occasion to reconnect with so many friends. Although Death's Head
itself is a rather forgettable hiking objective, the fabulous weather,
the amazing costumes and the great company all made this a most memorable
The group starts the hike by walking up a logging road. On the high point (1729 metres) of Death's Head are (L
to R) Wil, Bob, Shaun, Zosia, Wendy, Ruthie (Wendy's dog), Andrew,
Shelley, Daniel, Aga, Andrea, Sonny, and Peter.
Photo courtesy of Zosia
Most of the ridge has been logged making the hike somewhat unappealing.
The group approaches a false summit.
The group approaches the true high point of Death's Head. They are
difficult to discern in the photo, but a couple of disgruntled moose
hunters are descending from the high point. The hunters are visibly
unhappy to see such a large group of noisy hikers encroach on their
For his Halloween trick, Shaun discharges an expired canister of bear
Wendy dances with Ruthie.
Daniel juggles snow balls.
The group heads for a viewpoint further to the northwest.
Peter and Andrea stand beside a pile of rocks at the northwest viewpoint.
The forested hump at right is
The group descends a wooded slope west of the high point.
The group gains North Fork Trail and heads south.
The group turns east to hike up a cut line leading back to the start.
Wendy laughs at a whiny note left behind by the disgruntled moose
hunters. The back of the target card read "NO RESpect. Thanks for ruining
my day. Waited 8 years for this moment, glad you could blowit [sic]"
The drive out along muddy Gorge Creek Trail is very challenging on this
Distance: 4.6 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 4 hours
Net Elevation Gain: 182 metres
The group starts the hike by walking up a logging road.
On the high point (1729 metres) of Death's Head are (L to R) Wil, Bob, Shaun, Zosia, Wendy, Ruthie (Wendy's dog), Andrew, Shelley, Daniel, Aga, Andrea, Sonny, and Peter.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak