More Exploring around Paddy Peak, BC

Following my discovery of a spectacular road-accessible area above Tutshi Lake on Tuesday, I returned on Wednesday without my husky, Monty, so I could explore higher, more rugged valleys and ridges.

Although my primary target of interest was a high non-glacial lake to the southeast of the glacial one that captivated me the previous day, there were other possibilities as well. One was the small cirque on this unnamed 6800-foot peak (where the large snow patch is). It’s fascinated me for many years, and I took this photo so I’d have the image handy in case it might help me find a route, as I’d be right on the opposite side of the mountain.
Rugged peak along the South Klondike Highway
At the 7.0 km point on what a recent geologic report calls the Bennett Plateau 4×4 road, I parked the Tracker, checked the topo again, and headed south towards the lake on the very steep mining road that had given me a flat tire the day before. The starting elevation was 1,472 meters (4,829 feet). I do travel alone, but carry a tripod so I can get shots like this.
Starting a hike near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
The road quickly drops 42 meters (138 feet) to a creek crossing, which was too deep and rough for the truck, but I went upstream from the road a few feet and it was easy to walk across there.
Creek crossing near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
This road off to a mining exploration drill site was one of the possible routes for later. As well as the mining interest, it’s also the most likely source of a route to the cirque on the opposite side of the mountain.
Mining exploration road near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border

A 2007 report by Whitehorse geologist Scott Casselman gives a good background to what is seen in this specific area now: “This area has a long history of mineral exploration, dating back to the Klondike Gold Rush, when gold seekers came through the Bennett Lake valley on their way to the Klondike. Some old, undocumented adits on the Tannis Property may date back to this time. The majority of modern exploration in the area was conducted in the later part of the 1980ā€™s and early to mid 1990ā€™s when major companies such as Dupont, Noranda and Westmin conducted regional and property scale exploration in the district. This work identified base and precious metal mineralization in a variety of geological settings and deposit model types over large area measuring at least 14 by 18 km. The mineralization occurs as skarn-type mineralization in Devonian to Triassic meta-volcanic rocks bordering Cretaceous intrusions; as gold-bearing arsenopyrite-quartz veins in rhyolitic intrusions and adjacent host rocks; as disseminated copper- gold mineralization in Cretaceous intrusions; and as feeder zone mineralization in a possible volcanogenic massive sulphide setting.” The geology, and the exploration history of the area, though, is extremely complex.

I followed the road up and up into increasingly barren country.
Mining road near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
Oh poop, prints of a good-sized grizzly. Not fresh, but perhaps only a couple of weeks old. That got the ole spidey-senses tingling!
Grizzly print near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
Close to the grizzly prints, the prints of a caribou and calf from about the same time period – a likely reason that the grizzly was here. There’s little vegetation, so the most likely things that will bring a grizzly up here are Arctic ground squirrels (often a grizzly’s primary diet, but there are easier places to find them nearby), and the young of caribou and Dall sheep.
Caribou prints near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border

I left the road and hiked across barren rocky ground towards the highest point on the creek that drains the lake I was aiming for. Just before reaching the lake, though, there was a rocky ridge (a glacial moraine) that reduced my line of sight to only a few hundred feet. With the possibility of a grizzly being there, perhaps even with a kill, I pulled a can of bear spray out of its pocket on my pack.

The lake, though, was grizzly-free and as perfect as I’d hoped it would be. It had taken me exactly an hour to reach it from the truck – the altitude here is 1,556 meters, or 5,105 feet. On a small sandy beach near the creek outlet were the old prints of a barefoot person and a small dog – I liked the feeling that a kindred spirit had been up here in recent weeks. I spent quite a while at the lake, mostly just sitting on the shore enjoying the warm sun, the dramatic peaks, the pure water and the absolute silence. While the water was very deep and so too cold to stay in for very long, I went for a couple of short swims. The lake, like everything else around here, has no name.
Swiiming in a lake near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
On the map, it appeared that a route to the summit of what some locals call Paddy Peak (the highest point in this photo) might be possible, and that would in any case offer some great views, so I started up the steep talus slope on the left side of this snow-melt creek. This patch of dwarf fireweed was full of bees darting from blossom to blossom.
Dwarf fireweed near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
Looking back down at the lake. This sort of country deeply thrills me.
Lake and another peak near Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
Although there was a lot of “up” still ahead, this lovely saddle at 1,777 meters (5,830 feet) offered views that were even better than I’d hoped for, and was a great spot to stop for lunch. The vegetation here was being very well fertilized by an apparently healthy population of Dall sheep (though I didn’t see any). That’s Paddy Pass below, a tiny section of Lake Bennett in the distance.
The view from a shoulder of Paddy Peak, BC
At 2:10, I came to a dead-end, with no way around the cliffs and a steeply-sloping glacier. The view to the southwest, though, including the Bennett townsite at the head of the lake, was superb.
Looking down on Lake Bennett, BC
At 62 years old, summits aren’t as important to me as they once were, and I wasn’t upset about not being able to continue. I made it to 1,968 meters (6,457 feet), and was deeply happy to just be able to sit and enjoy this amazing view to the north. My life was perfect šŸ™‚
The view to the north from a shoulder of Paddy Peak, BC
The ridge to the east of the glacier offered a wonderful route down, with a well-trodden sheep trail along it.
Hiking a ridge east of Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
A look back at the reason I couldn’t continue to the summit. This is definitely not what the map shows! Only with a group of people and a lot of gear would I set foot on that glacier.
Glacier east of Paddy Peak, BC
At first glance it appears that the glacier ends in a gravel field, but I could hear a river thundering under the ice and the gravel, so under that gravel, the glacier continues right to the lake Monty and I were at the day before.
Glacier east of Paddy Peak, BC
Two photos stitched together give you a better idea of the view as I descended.
Glacial lake below Paddy Peak, BC
Down and down, with the view of the glacial lake getting better and better. For a while it looked like the thunderstorms up Whitehorse way might be coming south, but they never did threaten me.
Glacial lake below Paddy Peak, BC
At 3:40 I was getting close to the truck, which is at the “V” of the roads.
Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
Climbing back up the road to the truck, I noticed that there are a lot of rocks like this on it – no wonder one of them went through the side of my tire the day before (yes, tearing it beyond repair).
Paddy Peak, BC / Yukon border
By 4:30 I was back on the South Klondike Highway headed home, stopping briefly to get a shot of Bove Island as I went by.
Bove Island, Yukon
At 5:30, huge thunderstorms were still over Whitehorse, and I saw some great lightning flashes as I drove.
Thunderstorms along the South Klondike Highway
Here’s the topo I used, with the road added as a dashed line, my hiking route as a dotted line. Added the old-fashioned way, with a pen, on the map, while I was there šŸ™‚
Topographical map of the Paddy Peak, BC area

That was the last hot day of this summer. Temperatures have suddenly dropped from high 20s to high teens, and there are lots of clouds and showers in the forecast. But what a way to end it that was šŸ™‚


More Exploring around Paddy Peak, BC — 13 Comments

  1. Murray, nice to read that your life is so perfect and now, with your pictures and comments, so is ours! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Maureen. Note, though, that I said “my life was perfect” – as in, perfect when I was on top of the mountain. Back in the real world, the usual bumps still exist (though it’s still good) šŸ™‚

    Thanks to you too, Miltos – being able to share these experiences with people like you is part of the reason I do them. I do feel like many of you are with me, and that’s very special to me. I’m always aware that most of my readers will never get to experience the sort of wilderness I can so easily visit.

  3. Just want to add my voice in appreciation of the routes you have taken lately, without, and especially with, Monty. Of course I’m jealous of the places you have to visit, I wish I could experience them too, but enjoying them second hand is the next best thing. I am priviledeged to have known you and continue the pleasure of your company through your blogs – just take care my friend, and don’t tangle with them thar bears!!!

  4. “ Iā€™m always aware that most of my readers will never get to experience the sort of wilderness I can so easily visit.“.You are so right.Living at the opposite side of this planet,allthough i`d like very much,it`s very-very difficult for us to have these experience.But we have you!!!Thanks again!

  5. Wow, that was a nice hike! That is a beautiful area. Maybe I’ll make it one of these days….before I’m in a wheelchair. šŸ™‚

  6. Will you fix the first photo and the Bove iland photo so i can use them on my desktop please