Hidden Valley Ridge
After an epic ascent of Roche Bonhomme the day before, Kathleen Gallagher, Zosia Zgolak and I were looking for an easier, drier hike in Alberta's Jasper National Park on 9 April 2016.  A couple of nights earlier at Cafe Mondo in Jasper, our dinner server had suggested that we hike up Hidden Valley located next to Syncline Ridge, a popular local rock climbing destination.  None of us had ever heard of this hike, but it seemed to fit the bill for an appropriate "recovery day" trip.  None of us also bothered to take any notes when our server was describing the hike to us, and consequently, we were somewhat unsure about where to start although we knew that the correct pullout had a biffy and was near a goat lick.  We never did see the goat lick, but we found a large pullout with a biffy at its west end which seemed like a good place to start our hike.  A trail near the east end of the pullout cuts between two ponds and climbs steeply up an embankment on black shale, but we missed this completely and ended up scrambling up an even steeper rubble slope a little further east.  It mattered little though since we eventually stumbled onto the correct trail which heads into a canyon to the north of Syncline Ridge.  Numerous technical rock climbing routes became apparent as we hiked further into Hidden Valley, but we were more than content to continue following the climbers' approach trail.  We eventually arrived at a pass which grants a jaw-dropping view of Roche Miette further east.  Instead of continuing down into the next valley, we followed a spur trail here which led us up to a couple of high points on the ridge to the north which I dub "Hidden Valley Ridge".  After taking a break on one of the high points, we chose to follow the ridge back to our starting point rather than retrace our steps.  This return route is not straightforward and requires some route-finding and down-climbing skills, but we had a blast working our way down successive ribs and drop-offs, one of which included a bolted chain.  We ultimately regained the Hidden Valley approach trail and finished by descending the aforementioned black shale embankment.  For our last night in Jasper, we treated ourselves to a nice buffet dinner at Jasper Curry & Kabab House which was more memorable not for the delicious food but because of the presence of a couple of uninvited guests (ie. ticks).
A tough mountain to access because of the Athabasca River. Roche Ronde is reflected in one of the ponds near the trailhead.
Not the best access route for Hidden Valley--you can blame Zosia for this one! Kathleen scrambles up an eroding gully near the start.
We will be coming down from the left later in the day! Kathleen and Zosia work their way cross-country toward Hidden Valley (not visible here).

Pretty good views already; do we need to go further??

Pyramid Mountain stands out from the other peaks in this view to the southwest.


Where all the gnomes and hobbits live... Kathleen and Zosia enter Hidden Valley.
So that's where my ladder went after I sold it on Kijiji! Zosia climbs up a ladder not far into Hidden Valley.
In a syncline fold, the youngest rocks are at the core! This is likely where Syncline Ridge gets its name.
Surprisingly, nobody is climbing here this Saturday morning...perhaps too early in the day still? Kathleen and Zosia marvel at the impressive rock walls in Hidden Valley.
Should we be wearing helmets here? Kathleen hikes up a section of trail that hugs close to a wall.
Zosia would leave a message on a rock here dedicated to a friend of hers. Roche Miette comes into view near the high point of the trail.
It has been 10 years and a week since I was standing atop Roche Miette. Here is a more complete view of Roche Miette.
More ridges that are tough to access because of the Athabasca River. The view north from the lower of two high points of Hidden Valley Ridge includes Bedson Ridge at centre.
Second summit of the day? ;-) Kathleen and Zosia head for the higher of the two high points of Hidden Valley Ridge.
If everybody had a 12-gauge...(try and identify that movie reference!) Sonny, Zosia and Kathleen pose like they are surfing on the 1435-metre high point of Hidden Valley Ridge.
I need to shut my mouth when I jump! Sonny and Zosia jump for joy while Kathleen sticks to surfing!
Syncline Ridge looks like it might be a moderate to difficult scramble. Syncline Ridge dominates the background behind Kathleen and Zosia.
The fun is just beginning... Zosia descends the ridge to the west.
Looks like a squashed tomato slice! Here is a close-up of some interesting-looking lichen.
Before this current trip, Cinquefoil Mountain was the last peak I climbed in this area back in 2007! Talbot Lake and Pyramid Mountain are the two most obvious landmarks to the southwest.  Cinquefoil Mountain is also visible at left.
The chain is kinda superfluous for experienced scramblers. Zosia watches Kathleen down-climb a cliff band with bolted chains.
Fascinating creature... This tick was found crawling up Sonny's neck.
That was fun! Kathleen is off the most difficult part of the descent, while Zosia is not far behind her.
Kathleen was a real trooper this weekend scrambling, post-holing, and bushwhacking! Kathleen continues her descent down the ridge.  Behind her is Syncline Ridge.  The top of Roche Miette is also visible at left.
Almost done...except for that deadfall at lower left! Zosia descends a short cliff band near the trailhead.
I'm not sure why there is drop in the speed limit here...brutal speed trap! A policeman flags down a speeder at the trailhead.
A fantastic little trip which is ideal probably almost all year round. Total Distance:  5.1 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  3 hours 51 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  440 metres

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