Chaffen Ridge

On 23 May 2015, I joined Bob Spirko for a hike up to the high point of Chaffen Ridge in the Livingstone Range of southwest Alberta.  Bob had previously ascended the ridge from the east but stopped well short of the high point due to limited daylight.  For this trip, Bob used Google Earth to map out a shorter approach from the west utilizing an old exploration road which runs along Bruin Creek.  This route is pretty straightforward except for the necessity to ford Livingstone River near the start.

After turning off the main road about 18 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 532, we parked among some random camping sites before walking down to the river to scout for a reasonable place to cross.  For some reason, the embankments on the far side of the river here are all quite high and steep, and it took us awhile before we found a suitable crossing.  We dashed back to the car to gear up and to pick up our hip waders before returning to ford the river.  Although we both made it across safely, I was a bit unnerved by the strength of the current which, at the deepest part of the crossing, threatened to sweep us off our feet if we were not careful.

After ditching our hip waders on the other side of the river, we climbed up the embankment and almost immediately picked up a double-track heading eastward through a fence.  This double-track quickly leads to the aforementioned exploration road, and except for one detour to avoid some unnecessary elevation gain and loss, we followed the road without much fuss up the Bruin Creek valley.  We eventually left the road to hike up a succession of clearings--a sort of "glade-hopping"--in order to reach the crest of Chaffen Ridge.  Travel was generally easy even in the trees.  A few lingering snow patches guarded the high point, but these were less of a hindrance than the numerous cow patties we had to sidestep.

After a lengthy and comfortable stay at the high point, we retraced our steps back down the valley.  The weather turned out to be very warm on this day, and the shade of the forest was most welcome for much of our hike out.  Re-crossing Livingstone River was thankfully also uneventful, and we finished the short hike back to my car still wearing our hip waders.

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report here.
Not as easy as it looks! Bob fords Livingstone River.
Yeah, not much to see for the first part of the hike. Bob follows an old exploration road up the valley.
We left the road briefly at this point to by-pass some unnecessary height gain and loss. A clearing in the forest provides a glimpse of Chaffen Ridge in the distance.
It's pining for the fjords! A spruce grouse tries to look inconspicuous on a tree branch.
Don't worry, those rock bands above are easily circumvented. Bob climbs up a steep slope below the ridge crest.
Lotsa evidence of cattle up here! Bob hikes along the ridge crest toward the high point.

Ridgewalking paradise!

Bob pauses to look north at some familiar peaks including Coffin Mountain, Saddle Mountain (barely distinguishable), and Sheep Mountain.

Possibly a glacier on Chaffen Ridge?? Bob stands atop a thick snow patch not far from the high point.
I finally "splurged" and got new hiking pants! Bob and Sonny stand on the 2228-metre high point of Chaffen Ridge.

What a gorgeous day!

The High Rock Range stretches across the horizon to the southwest.

Might be worth a closer look in the future... The Elevators stick out like a sore thumb to the west.
By the way, those are not petals but sepals, and they apparently close up during the night or when it is cloudy during the day. Prairie crocuses are a sure sign that spring has arrived in the mountains.
Most exciting part of the day! Bob heads back across Livingstone River.
Not destined to become popular anytime soon... Total Distance:  13.0 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 55 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  649 metres

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