Hat Mountain (Sheep Mountain) GR:946424

elevation: 2,533 m.
height gain: 1,000 m.
area: Ya Ha Tinda Ranch,AB
map 82 O/12-13
2017-Apr-21


Park at the trailhead next to the Bighorn Campground. Cross the bridge over Bighorn Creek and locate the trail heading north along Ya Ha Tinda's fenced pastures, this trail is called the Old Forestry Road (see labeled trail map in the pictures). At the T-junction, turn left on Scalp Creek Trail. From that trail there are a couple of options: following a pathway blazed on the south ridge that circumvents or ascends The Hat or continuing further on Scalp Creek Trail to climb the west aspect of Hat Mountain (indicated on the topo map). Once on the broad ridge, Hat Mountain is the highpoint to the north.
fun drive in


Drove through lots of washouts and deep mud, good times!
Snowshoe trip: RT 11.0; 7.0 up. Following last weekend's road trip to Pincher Creek, I felt ready for another escapade; this time I was heading out to Ya Ha Tinda. I planned an overnight outing to break down a long loop going over The Hat and continuing to the true northern summit of Hat Mountain. I figured it would be beneficial to camp and return from treeline in the morning when the snow was firm. I left Golden in the afternoon and slept at the trailhead. I started hiking the next morning, there was no snow on the Old Forestry Road. In good Ya Ha Tinda fashion, I met a group of horses; they came to greet me, curious to see if I would hand out food. I just love hanging out with the horses, it's always difficult to leave them behind to continue hiking. Further along, on the Scalp Creek Trail, I encountered increasing snow; it was supportive. I left the main trail to ascend the south slopes of The Hat on a flagged trail. The slopes were snowfree but once on the ridge in the trees, the trail wasn't discernible anymore and some sections of deep postholing ensued. This was the toughest part of the loop, I wondered if I would make it to The Hat... Luckily, I came across patches of firm snow prompting me to carry on. Eventually, I reached open terrain where the snow was supportive; with The Hat in sight, my enthusiasm was renewed. I gained The Hat where I got my first glimpse of the connecting ridge to the true summit, it was snowy and a long ways! I aimed for an area at treeline near the saddle where I could drop all my camping equipment, it had to be an appropriate location facilitating my return down the west aspect the next morning. The descent to the saddle was straightforward and fast, I came upon a trail map sign and left my extras there. The weather started to show signs of instability, snow was in the forecast. I grabbed a quick bite and resumed my hike towards the true summit. The ridge hike was pleasant and as easy as it gets. From time to time, I stopped to enjoy the cloud formations and scenery. This trip evoked a meditative state, I covered ground with little effort or worry. After 7 hours, I stood on the summit. The sky displayed incredible multi-layered cloudcover and the mountains were now shrouded by dark clouds. There was no wind, I felt at ease sitting down to eat and savour the moment. The tall cairns and the sheer drop on the east side gave the highpoint some appeal, that was kind of unexpected. The hike back to my gear was very nice, the sky was moody and textured; it didn't start snowing until I reached my cache. Setting up was quick, the water was boiling by the time I was ready to retreat in the tent. The following morning the sky had cleared up and a good freeze provided good travel down to Scalp Creek Trail below. This trip was really special to me and I'm glad it turned out this great.
trailhead

Sign at the trailhead.

my loop

My loop.

old forestry road

Nice hiking on the Old Forestry Road, westside of Bighorn Creek.

horses greet me

Horses come to greet me.

scalp creek trail

Still lots of snow on the Scalp Creek Trail.

veering on a side trail


Veering on a trail that climbs open slopes and leads to The Hat's south ridge.


open slopes


The open slopes are free of snow.


unsupportive snowpack


The forest is still snowbound, the unsupportive snowpack made this stretch really tough.


the hat ahead


The Hat comes into view; in the open, the snow is firmer.


top of the hat


Top of The Hat with Hat Mountain in between the cairns in the distance.


looking back


Looking over the ridge I travelled and Ya Ha Tinda Ranch.


leaving the hat


Leaving The Hat to continue towards Hat Mountain.


dropping my overnight gear


Looking back at The Hat.


nearing hat mountain


After following the long broad ridge, I'm nearing Hat Mountain.


summit cairns


Summit cairns ahead.


western view


Well Site Mountain to the west.


north-western view


View north-west towards Scalp SE2 and Scalp Peak.


nice summit block


Nice summit block with a steep drop on the eastside and fantastic cairns.


volatile weather


The weather is very volatile.


north-eastern view


Looking north-east over Scalp SE5 towards unnamed peaks.


heading back


Heading back under a moody textured sky.


losing visibility


At times the cloudcover lowers enough to obstruct visibility.


stunning multi-layered clouds


Although the view is reduced, the display of multi-layered clouds is stunning.


spectacular contrast


Spectacular contrast with the sky and snow.


more of the same


More of the same.


clouds lower again


The clouds lower again.


camping spot


I'm set up where I'll be able to pick up my descent on the west aspect tomorrow.


following morning


Well Site Mountain the following morning.


the hat


The Hat on the left.


hat mountain


Hat Mountain.


back on scalp creek trail


Back on Scalp Creek Trail with Barrier Mountain in the background.


fresh cougar tracks


Fresh Cougar tracks...


old forestry road


The Old Forestry Road along Ya Ha Tinda's fenced pastures.


deja vu


Déjà vu!
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