Cox Hill (Aug 2)

Yesterday’s weather forecast called for sunshine and a high of 30 C in the mountain parks today, so we studied our trail maps carefully, looking for a hike we hadn’t done before and where we could be at the trail head by 8:30 so we could beat the heat! After some deliberation, we decided on Cox Hill.
 
The most proximate parking is at the Dawson Equestrian Campground along Powderface Trail (a gravel road connecting Highways 66 and 68). Our route through Sibbald Flats, with one stop to find a nice little mulit-cache, put us on the trail at 8:38, just about on target. From our map studies, we knew that Cox Hill connects to Jumpingpound Mountain via an undulating ridge walk, several kilometers in length. This ridge is popular with mountain bikers, who will ride up the Jumpingpound Summit Trail, along the ridge and then down the Cox Hill Trail. As we climbed the steep front section and studied the rocky trail, we concluded that biking this route is well beyond our current capabilities and appetite for spills.
 
A highlight of today’s hike was the abundance of wildflowers; we spotted at least 2 dozen different and colourful blossoms, including several patches of fireweed, red and fushia paint brush, asters, golden fleabane, alpine forget-me-not, stonecrop, white camas lupine and many more…
 
 
We stopped to hunt for a couple of geocaches along the trail, always moving quickly to find the container, sign the logbook and rehide the cache, in an effort to move faster than the hordes of insects (horse flies, bees, wasps and the occasional mosquito). We avoid using bug repellent whenever possible, but today we finally gave up and sprayed our fleece pullovers, caps and pant legs!
 
After hiking about 6 km and gaining 500 meters, we neared GC1G1DQ Almost to the Top, hidden by Sleepy_hollow in September 2008. The last attempts to find this cache (late May) netted a couple DNFs on account of snow! We had no trouble finding the cache today and Mr. GeoK took this photo of the GeoKids near the cache site. The skies were very hazy today, so while the mountains lack their usual clarity and definition, it makes for an interesting effect.
 

 
As we approached our final cache target (BVPete’s Cox Hill – A Cache for Susan), we spotted a lazy marmot sunning on the rocks…
 
 
Lunch break was interesting; we had to walk around while we ate our sandwiches in order to keep the bugs from landing and biting!! Even so, we managed to study many of the peaks in the front range of the Canadian Rockies, including Moose Mountain, Nihahi Ridge and more. We also studied the sour gas plant and ancillary batteries on the shoulders of Moose Mountain before packing up the remains of our lunch and taking a few more pictures.
 
 
Ridge walk back towards Sleepy_hollow’s cache
 
Lupine along the trail
 
After some discussion on the way back down, we concluded that we prefer the Jumpingpound Summit Trail to this one: it’s shorter, with less elevation gain, to attain similar views. Since you expend less effort to get to the ridge, you have more energy to do a bit of a ridge walk once you’re there. That being said, this is a good option for a warm day since so much of it is in the trees.
 
Total hiking distance = 13.5 km (2 hrs 20 minutes to ascend, 1 hr 30 minutes to descend); just over 700 meters elevation gain; 4 caches found on the hike + 2 on the drive there and back.
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