5 Star Summit And "6 Star Summit"
Waking up to foggy weather in Fernie, British Columbia on the morning of 1 August 2010, Dinah Kruze, Bob Spirko and I abandoned our original scrambling plans for the day and had a leisurely breakfast at Smitty's instead.  Still undecided about what to do after breakfast, we drove up to nearby Island Lake Lodge to take a look around.  A number of hiking trails radiate out from the core area of the resort, and with the weather showing some improvement, we decided to hike the Tamarack Trail to a viewpoint with the option of continuing further to a grassy knob known locally as 5 Star Summit.  Although we were not expecting anything exciting on this hike, it surprisingly turned out to be much more interesting than we could have imagined.

The initial walk through a cedar forest was very pleasant, and after crossing a powerline right-of-way, we began climbing in earnest up the trail at a moderate grade.  We soon entered an old rock slide where low clouds moved in and out teasing us with glimpses of some impressive cliffs up ahead.  As we followed the well-constructed trail up through the slide, the sky began to clear, and we actually got an early look at a striking rocky bump which Bob and I would eventually climb later on.  At this point, I also noticed a couple following close behind us.  They eventually passed us on the Tamarack Trail when we took the side trip to the viewpoint which I found to be a bit disappointing.  Nursing her sore feet from our hike the previous day, Dinah was originally planning on turning around after reaching the viewpoint, but for various reasons (the easy trail, the improving weather, or my irresistible charming company), she decided to continue with Bob and me to 5 Star Summit.  The Tamarack Trail climbs over a col separating 5 Star Summit from the aforementioned rocky bump which I shall henceforth refer to as "6 Star Summit".  Turning left at the col, we followed a trail all the way to the top of 5 Star Summit where we met the other couple.  After some discussion, Bob and I decided that we would climb up "6 Star Summit" while Dinah would accompany the couple back to the resort.  Bob and I descended to the col and continued up the other side on a short-lived trail which soon deteriorated into a mess of deadfall in a cut block.  Thrashing up this cut block was rather annoying, but it did not take too long to reach the top of "6 Star Summit".  By the time Bob and I returned to the col, Dinah and the couple were well down the trail.

On our descent, Bob and I passed several people on their way up, and we even had an extended chat with a trio of hikers near the top of the rock slide.  Near the powerline right-of-way, I lost sight of Bob as he marched ahead along the trail.  When I crossed the right-of-way, I was surprised to see the couple we had met earlier backtracking along the trail.  They had made a detour to the viewpoint that we had visited earlier in the day leaving Dinah to hike back to the resort on her own.  They told me now that a bear was up ahead.  At first, I could see only Bob further up the trail, but moments later, an adult grizzly bear emerged on the trail beyond Bob.  I took out my camera and snapped a couple of fuzzy photographs that would make Bigfoot hunters proud.  Bob was closer to the bear than the rest of us, but we all began to retreat as the bear continued to approach him.  At one point I smacked my hiking poles together and let out a loud whoop to let the bear know of our presence.  The bear then got up on its haunches to sniff the air.  When the bear dropped back down, it turned around and disappeared back up the trail.  With Bob still standing apart from us further up the trail, the couple and I stood for a couple of minutes discussing possible alternate routes back to the resort.  Satisfied that the bear had moved on, Bob began walking back up the trail, and the rest of us followed him cautiously.  We all made it back to the resort without further incident and found Dinah waiting patiently under a tree.  She was surprised when we told her about our bear encounter.  None of the other hikers we passed on the trail had mentioned anything about seeing the bear, and Dinah had walked along that section of trail alone and completely oblivious to a potential mauling!

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report and photos here.
I find it odd that I seldom see cedar trees on the Alberta side of the Canadian Rockies. Bob and Dinah hike through the cedar forest near the start of the Tamarack Trail.
There's a good trail here--no scrambling required. Bob and Dinah begin climbing up the rock slide.
It's always cool to be able to climb above the mist. Mist blankets the valley bottom in this view from the top of the rock slide.
Staircase to Heaven it is NOT! Bob and Dinah look down from the top of the stairs leading to the viewpoint.
The trees and powerline (not visible here) really mar the views. This is the viewpoint overlooking Island Lake Lodge (left of Bob).
The trail climbs over the col at far right. Here is one of the first views of 5 Star Summit from the Tamarack Trail.
The Tamarack Trail eventually goes all the way to the base of Three Sisters. Dinah and Bob continue hiking toward the col.  The craggy south face of "6 Star Summit" is visible at right.
It is 230 metres higher than the official Mount Fernie to the southeast (not visible here). This is an impressive 2390-metre unnamed peak northeast of 5 Star Summit. calls this "Peak 32-08" and refers to it as "True Fernie".
Bob mentioned that the other couple's names were Mark and Beth. Dinah and Bob mingle with the other couple near the bench on top of 5 Star Summit (2014 metres).  Looking east, "6 Star Summit" is the second bump from the left.
Probably seldom climbed, I would bet. To the northwest is another impressive unnamed peak (2384 metres).
We followed the cut block along the right-hand ridge. Bob heads back to the col en route to "6 Star Summit".
We kept in contact with Dinah on our FRS radios. Bob clears the last trees before the summit.
Who would have thought earlier this morning that we would be bagging a second summit for the day? Sonny and Bob stand on top of "6 Star Summit" (2111 metres).
"Dinah.  Can you see me on the summit?  I'm naked!" Island Lake is visible to the southwest.
All these lower official summits must have been named by some really lazy peak baggers! To the east, "True Fernie" is at far left while the official Mount Fernie is the rocky peak at far right.
If you look closely, you can even spot the green metal phallus at the top. The highest of the Three Sisters is visible to the northeast.
Actually, I think my chosen name of "6 Star Summit" is not pretentious at all! Looking west from "6 Star Summit", 5 Star Summit is at right while the forested bump just left of centre is Mount Baldy.  On the distant horizon at right are The Steeples.
Watch your step here...lotsa nasty surprises underfoot! Bob works his way down the cut block.
Nice reward for minimal effort. Here is one last look at "6 Star Summit" from the Tamarack Trail.
Strangely, when the couple reported the bear encounter, the lodge staff seemed skeptical that it was a grizzly bear. Here is a look at the grizzly bear coming down the trail.
Hmmm...hope the bear didn't get her! The couple and Bob look for Dinah at Island Lake Lodge.
The bear encounter happened just a little to the left of the powerline right-of-way. This is the route as viewed in Google Earth. 
We were going to check out Island Lake up close but never did due to all the bear excitement.  Next time...

Total Distance:  11.3 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  4 hours 54 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  910 metres

GPX Data