Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Pleasant Trek around a Ridge

Icy Drop were dripping slowly back into Beatty Brook.
Pleasant Ridge has a warm and fuzzy feeling when you read the name on a map.  The name is well deserved as the area around these high hills makes my heart pump when I am anywhere near there.  No matter what time of year it is I get pumped about all the possibilities that abound.  During the summer months I can often be found wetting a line fishing for trout along one of the many streams that drain the hills that form the ridge.  More recently I decided to explore the Beatty Brook and one of its unnamed tributaries on snowshoes.

Beatty Brook is a steep and cold stream here.
Snowshoeing is my outdoor winter sport of choice because I have never been great at cross country skiing, and I played to much hockey to compete at downhill skiing as a kid.  I didn't need a groomed trail and I could easily carry my snowshoes in my car, so I could go any time or any where.  The goal of this trip was to show a friend of mine a small waterfall and then explore some new wilderness.  The weather man was calling for a mild winter day with a chance of flurries. 

We packed a light lunch and were looking forward to being able to eat it while sitting on the side of Pleasant Ridge.  We hit the woods around 9:30 or so and made our way along the left bank of Beatty Brook heading upstream.  The first thing I noticed was that there was not as much snow as a previous trip I made and this surprised me.  The second thing was how quiet it was.  You could hear the water gurgling under the ice and that was all unless you count your breathing.

The ice ledges along the Brook offered some great views up and down stream.
We approached the Steen Road and walked along the skidoo trail for a short time before taking off to the left up the unmapped ravine looking for water and ice.  The topographical mapping showed that the area had steep slopes but no water.  When I noticed this I was certain there was water but I wanted to see for myself.  We headed up the ravine which would circle around the back of the hill before it made the top at approximately 191m.  As we made the trek an impressive hardwood stand dominated the hill to our right and I was amazed at how crisp and majestic the stand appeared.  There was water in the creek throughout the hike even when we made the top, water was running but the topography was not as steep as we anticipated and the trek was relaxed. 

The view from the top of Pleasant Ridge looking southeast.
As we reached the top of the stream we had lunch and energized for the next lag of the hike was a bush whack across unmarked woodland.  We set our bearings on a steep tributary and were capable enough that we hit our mark and found ourselves looking out over the Millstream Valley while standing in a small natural clearing on the steep southeast side of the Pleasant Ridge. 

We were now faced with a difficult and treacherous descent back to Beatty Brook and the car.  The snow was thin in places with ice underneath and one step sent us glissading down the slope only to be slowed up by a steep drift.  The small and narrow creek bed was filled with many conglomerate boulders but very little water, even though it showed water on the maps.  Suddenly we found the source of the water as we noticed a small ladle hanging in a nearby tree where a spring flowed out from under some roots and rocks. 

The steep ravine we descended provided some challenges.
From this point I tried to stay on the creek bed and unfortunately this would cost me.  As I continued leaping from ice shelf to ice shelf over the small stream I got into a rhythm that flowed with the same resonance of the creek itself.  Without warning though the beat changed and I made a hard step to what looked like snow covered ice but it turned out to be a big boulder.  I only managed to get the toe of my snowshoe up on it and as my weight settled on the shoe the aluminum tube bent and then broke.  Luckily we were not that far from the bottom of the creek and the road and I was able to hobble the rest of the way.

Even with my snowshoe breaking it was a great day and to me it symbolized any normal day.  The little bumps shouldn't take away from all the progress we make along our journey.  I hope your journey is over smooth snow.  See you in the woods.

View Pleasant Ridge Snowshoe Trek in a larger map
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