Ascent of Ishpatina Ridge on 2012-05-21

Climber: Brian Friedrich

Others in Party:Laura Friedrich
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, May 21, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Ishpatina Ridge
    Elevation:693 m / 2274 ft

Ascent Trip Report

I should start by saying that after reading the variety of trip reports (and certainly not just on this site), we expected the hike up to be a long slog with route finding difficulties, bushwhacking, and a possible fording issue. In reality, for us anyway, the only accurate part was the long slog. Others have very well-described the route (many thanks - this was invaluable!), so I won't discuss that further. I just wanted to provide another perspective in the event some folks may feel discouraged about all the obstacles described in some of the reports. As long as you have some decent hiking experience and are reasonably fit, this outing should be considered a relatively straightforward day hike. If it's treated as a day hike and you travel very light (with only the appropriate essentials in the event you or someone in your party runs into trouble), it can be completed very quickly. If you have a 4x4 (or ATV) and want to include more driving into the trip, then completion in under 5 hours is easily achievable. Somehow that seemed like "cheating" to us, so the 4x4 was left parked on the other side of the Sturgeon...

So our trip went as follows: We spent the night in a hotel in Sudbury, got up at about 04:20 and were underway by 05:10. Sunrise happened sometime about half-way along the logging roads, so we had reasonable light for the whole drive. We found the roads to be in great shape all the way to the Sturgeon. If you've done a bunch of logging road driving, you'll probably be able to maintain about 60-65kph on average (faster on the way back, but it's always like that... :) ). As an aside, we found a small, black dog wandering alone about 2km from the trailhead. He was in pretty rough shape from having spent the night (and maybe longer) out on his own, so we decided to bring him along to the parking area in the (all-be-it unlikely) event he'd wandered off. Meeting a couple who'd bagged the summit the day before, but not finding the dog's owner, he was handed off to these kind folks who agreed to bring him to the shelter in Sudbury as they were on their way out later that morning. Never ceases to amaze me how some people can just abandon their pets in the middle of no-where when they're "done" with them...this is not the first time we've seen this happen...

Anyway, back to the trip. So we crossed the river at around 07:10 and followed the excellent directions and maps obtained from this site (thanks for your trip report, Greg) and We made good time throughout all sections and really didn't encounter any that we'd term bushwhacking. At least a very navigable trail, if sometimes a bit faint (but only very briefly), goes the whole distance - and most of the route is road or very good trail. Around Scarecrow Lake - the section identified elsewhere as bush - was no issue. Rarely did we wander further than 10-15m from the lake and we were almost always on a trail. We made sure to help clear some additional branches to make the path a bit easier in the future and suspect that those who preceded us have been doing the same, so it was unusual to have to go more than about 1-5m without a well-worn trail in front of us.

We left Scarecrow Lake (Tower trail from the obvious camping area) at about 10:00 and summited at roughly 11:15. This early in the season, the leaves on the trees and bush at the top were not fully developed, so it wasn't an issue finding the summit boulder about 50m from the tower and just off the main trail. Our GPS read 697m, and from all indications this was the highest point around. Climbing up the tower a little confirmed this belief in our minds, especially given that the skies were totally clear around. We didn't linger too long on the top as, although there was a pleasant breeze, it wasn't enough to rid us of the swarm of black flies and mosquitoes that found us there. It was definitely a day where we were thankful to have a bottle of deet along (a bit of a last resort, normally, but necessary today).

The walk back was uneventful and, if anything, easier to follow the trail. By the time we reached Hamlow Lake, the t-storms that were predicted for the afternoon had arrived, but passed mostly to the north of us. This meant cooler temperatures and enough rain to be refreshing - a nice combo on an otherwise very warm day. The return river ford was fantastic to conclude with. We'd thought of how much more relaxing the day would have been if we did "cheat" and drive as far as possible on the roads (multiple hour savings for sure), but convinced ourselves that it would have been "wrong"'s that for justification once you're committed to a course of action.

We made it back to Sudbury in good time to enjoy dinner and some fine brews.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:978 m / 3214 ft
    Elevation Loss:978 m / 3214 ft
    Distance:32 km / 19.9 mi
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Hot, Breezy, Clear
Partly cloudy w brief t-storm at end
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:639 m / 2099 ft
    Extra Loss:339 m / 1115 ft
    Distance:16 km / 9.9 mi
    Trailhead:Sturgeon River ford  393 m / 1290 ft
    Time Up:4 Hours 5 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:639 m / 2099 ft
    Extra Gain:339 m / 1115 ft
    Distance:16 km / 9.9 mi
    Route:Sturgeon River ford and overland
    Trailhead:393 m / 1290 ft
    Time Down:3 Hours 45 Minutes

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