King Creek Opal Traverse to Little Highwood

Big Horn Sheep grazing at the high point on Pocaterra, Gap Col King Creek Opal traverse

August 11th 2017

King Creek Opal traverse to Little Highwood Pass is described in Daffern’s Kananaskis Country Trail Guides Vol 1. Lee and I did it in the opposite direction so we could cycle back to King Creek day use down hill. I have used some of  Daffern’s  descriptions of the names of the cols to simplify the directions. Starting at King Creek on Hwy 40 just opposite the turn off to Hwy 742 and Kananaskis Lakes. Follow the creek to the first fork at about 2 km. Low water level is needed a to cross the creek many times. The main fight now begins the damage from the creek is massive and the elevation of the creek increases. By the time we got to the second fork at about 4 km from the first fork we were already getting tiered and the better part of the hike was yet to come. Take the right fork but don’t follow it to far or you will have to re-trace your steps as we did. Look for a green open point though the trees which is King Opal Col. Then look across to Elpoca Opal Col. about 1.5 Km away. We tried to stay high on the east side aiming for the rock wash and then the patch of snow in the watercourse before Elpoca Col. From there it is open ground to Elpoca Opal Col. Now you can see across the 3.5 km to Pocaterra, Gap Col. The normal route would go down the watershed to about 2000m and the back up to the meadow which is a loss of about 280m. Instead we went bush whacking across the east side of the Opal range  and came out at the meadow saving the elevation. Was it worth it I don’t know but I am not going back to find out. At the meadow look on the right in the trees for a game trail to go up to the treed ridge. From there if you get lucky, or follow my track, it will come out to the open face of the col where the game trail cuts across to the high point of the Gap Col. We took the low point to exit down the scree and the creek. Big disappointment hardly any scree I think it must have got washed away. Great views to the south  Arethusa, Storm and Mist Mountain. Tyrwhitt and the rock arch, Pocaterra and the ridge as well as Little Highwood Pass. It was 1.5 back to the bikes at Little Highwood day use. Then another 11 km back to King Creek. Guess what to add insult to injury there were two nasty up hill sections.

 

King Creek not far from trail head

Lee at a narrow part of King Creek

King Creek at the first fork Right to Opal Traverse

 

Damage from flood King Creek

Looking up the second right fork which we took. Shortly after headed up through trees to King Opal Col

At Opal King Col climbed through trees shortly after the second Rt Fork Looking towards Elpoca Opal Col

Back toward King Opal Col Stayed high in trees aiming for this rock wash

Then came through trees Rt to snow patch we could see from King Opal Col

From snow patch up to Elpoca Opal Col

Looking across at Pocaterra Gap Col arrow gives a very rough idea of the route.

Meadow before the acsent to Pocaterra Gap Col

Looking back to Elpoca Opal Col

The high point of the day ahead 2420m Pocaterra Gap Col

Went down the creek on the left

 

 

Distance return 15.0km  Plus 11 bike Time return 8:45 hrs ( inc 30 min lunch ) Elevation Accumulated gain 1064 m  Summit height 2420 m

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