For my first hike in the Fernie region I decided to climb Mount Proctor. The trail starts right next to the visitors centre, it is well-maintained with ample signage and, although there were reports of snow remaining along the descent route, I had been told that it would be passable with a little route-finding. On the day of my visit the weather was unsettled. Looking at the forecast I decided that I had to be descending by 12 noon to be safe. As a result, I moved a little faster than I would have liked on the ascent but managed to beat the weather and be safely in the valley descending by the time sustained precipitation arrived.
As mentioned, access is from the Fernie Tourism center. There are pit toilets in the corner of the parking lot in case you arrive before the building opens. A kiosk with trail information sits next to the parking lot. The lower parts of the Mount Proctor Loop overlap with other hiking and multi-use trails. Although there is lots of signage to direct you along your way, it was nice to have a map so I could understand exactly what direction I was ultimately headed in. Setting out, I was surprised to see that the Fernie Trails Alliance had placed distance markers along the loop route for Mount Proctor which count up or count down depending on which side you’re looking at. The numbers ascend following the route clockwise, so if you’re doing the recommended counter-clockwise direction you’ll be looking at descending numbers once you depart from the part of the route where ascend and descent overlap.
The route initially follows the Fairy Creek Trail, then follows “Swine Flu” to a bench with a nice view overlooking Fernie. From the bench the trail stays in the woods but starts to ascend more steeply along the south ridge of Mount Proctor. Eventually a southern outlier comes into view but the trail doesn’t go up and over it. Rather, it skirts around the west side arriving at a col between the outlier and the summit. From there the route is outside the trees and the way is clear. As I ascended the lower parts of the trail there was some wind and patches of brief rain, so being in the trees was actually pretty nice. The frequent and clear signage was impressive. After the final ascent to the summit I was amused to see yet another sign post, complete with QR code, and a full-sized picnic table a short distance away.
After taking in the views, especially of Three Sisters looming directly across the valley to the northwest, I had a seat at the picnic table to put on my gaiters to prepare for the descent through the snowy valley west of the summit. As I descended, more sustained precipitation arrived. High on the mountain it was in the form of ice pellets which stung a little, but were preferable to rain. Navigating down through the snowy valley wasn’t too difficult. Trail markers could still seen here and there but I lost the trail at some point. I directed myself to the southern outlet of the valley and eventually saw the trail again. As I got lower the precipitation turned to rain. By the time the trail brought me down to Fairy Creek Falls it was raining pretty steady which added an interesting ambiance to the waterfall. A few more kilometres on the friendly Fairy Creek Trail brought me back to the visitor centre.
Despite the weather, this was a great day out. I’m particularly impressed with the dedication shown by the Fernie Trails Alliance in maintaining the trail and providing excellent signage. You can voluntarily purchase a “pass” via their website to help support their work. The QR codes on the signage will direct your smartphone to the site. I was a little unsure whether I should categorized this as a “hike” or “scramble”. In the end I decided on “scramble” but I can see the argument that this is more of a hike. Whatever you call it, it’s worth doing if you can handle the ascent.
Click on the pictures in the gallery below to access higher resolution images.