Pigeon Mountain (lacking in pigeons since 1858)

Pigeon Mountain has been hovering on our radar for a long time – it sits just next to Skogan Pass, so we’ve travelled past it plenty of times, but have never quite made the turn up towards the summit. It was a warm day for November, and without too much snow on the ground, we thought we may as well use this trip as a good shoulder season excursion.

After cheating and driving to the trailhead, we unloaded the bikes and Chariot, and started the slog up alongside the power-lines. There were a couple of other random hikers about, but the carpark had been overwhelmingly full of hunters. We passed a few on the trail; bow hunters who had bagged a bighorn sheep.

We managed to cover 3.5 km or so before the snow on the trail started to make traction impossible, so gave in and stashed the wheels in the trees.

Above the treeline and trudging uphill, with an old-school toddler carrying device – shoving them in the space between your back and the backpack

Another kilometre or so and we reached the turnoff, taking us up single trail, climbing a spur until we were spat out above the treeline and into the wind. From there on the trail wasn’t so well defined. There was a fantastic choose-your-own-adventure set of trails to follow through the snow though…

Follow the sheep trail. Turn to page 63. You have fallen into a wind drift and can’t get out. You starve to death before summer comes.
Follow the lower human trail. Turn to page 48. The trail disappears over the edge of a cliff. You fall to your death.
Set your own tracks across wind slab. Turn to page 38. The wind slab holds for the first twenty metres, but suddenly gives way, and you are trapped in postholing hell.

Lunch!

We managed to make our way through the perilous choose-your-own-adventure section, and reached the ridge, where the wind had kept the snow pretty thin on the ground. Surprisingly, the wind swept ridge was also rather windy.

Onwards and upwards

We were not alone – hoards of bighorn sheep around. The whole area will be under seasonal closure from December 1st, as it’s a breeding ground for the bighorn sheep.

It was easy walking to the summit and after snacks and photos at the summit cairn, we shook our fist at the sun, which had just disappeared behind a bank of clouds that had been hugging the mountains to the west of us, and then we scarpered back down the mountain.

Thanks to the bike-stashing effort, we made it back to the car a full five minutes before sunset (with the added benefit that we weren’t driven insane by having to walk down a road next to a power-line for a full five kilometres).

Oh, and as an added bonus, here is a link to the song we both had stuck in our head all day long.

Distance: 16.5km
Elevation gain: 960m
Summit altitude: 2394m

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