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Ascent of Annieopsquotch Mountains High Point on 2018-10-07

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, October 7, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Annieopsquotch Mountains High Point
    Location:Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador
    Elevation:2264 ft / 690 m

Ascent Trip Report

Summary:

This was a rugged journey over mostly untracked terrain. On the plus side, the access is excellent (a paved highway), the distance and elevation gain to the peak are not too great, and many rough game trails can be followed. But obstacles include challenging routefinding, bushwhacking, boggy marshes, and lots of ups and downs. Early-season bugs and bad weather would add to the misery. Still, experienced backcountry travelers should be able to do this hike in a day with no major issues.

My Story:

I had almost no information or beta for this hike. The Annieopsquotch Mountians are obscure and remote, and there was only one very sketchy online reference to anyone ever hiking there—a mention on Trailpeak.com of a short roadside hike being a possibility. I thought that perhaps the range high point might even be unclimbed. This seemed like a real adventure.

I drove 62.5 kilometers east and then south from the Trans-Canada Highway on the lightly-traveled Route 480 towards Burgeo—there is virtually nothing on this road as it cuts through the wilderness. When the Annieopsquotch Mountains were visible, I turned into an overgrown track leading west that very shortly led to a clearing, a good place to park away from the shoulder-less highway.

At 9:30 AM I set off, crossed the highway, and headed east, and at first it was OK going over white-lichen meadows with some very easy bushwhacking. I was encouraged by the openness, since I knew that many miles of bushwhacking could slow me down a great deal. At the outlet of the large lake at about 365m, I found a good footway/trail heading the way I wanted to go. The terrain was brushier than I expected, so the path was a godsend despite its ruggedness. I had visions of it leading me all the way to the high point.

Not too far along I looked back and saw a hunter following me, complete with rifle, orange hat, and three dogs. We exchanged waves and I continued uphill. After a while I stopped to de-layer and waited for the hunter, and I was surprised when a woman’s voice returned my greeting. She was out by herself hunting ptarmigan and training a new dog. She also liked the unexpected trail but wanted to be more to the west, so I never saw “Annie Opsquotch” again after I departed.

I lost the trail for a while—when crossing marshy areas or open rocky ridgecrest the continuation was hard to find sometimes. But I eventually came back to it, lost it, regained it, and soon made my way up to the outlet of the large lake at 495m.

I recommend following my route to this point—the trail really helps. But above the lake, there are many possible routes to the high point and the one I took (see my GPS track) may not be the best. On the way back I tried a few variations, but due to rainy weather I mainly just followed my outbound path. I can offer some general observations about autumn travel on this route, though, that might be helpful.

I came up with a rhyming list to describe the four kinds of terrain in the area:
  • Rock is a lock – hiking on the rocky ridgecrests, lakeshores, or talus fields was the best going.
  • Yellow is mellow – grassy areas, while sometimes boggy, were usually good walking.
  • Red gets you ahead – knee-high blueberry bushes were slightly annoying but still OK for progress.
  • Green is mean – “Tuckamore” is the Newfoundland krummholz, twisted and gnarled evergreens from waist to head high, featuring booby trap holes. The main goal was to minimize going trough this.
So I would climb up a little hill to get to the rocky/grassy areas, and once they ran out, look over to the next hill and pick a valley crossing route that missed as much tuckamore as possible. I still had several nasty stretches of the stuff, but they were generally short. Never start into tuckamore if you can’t see the end of it ahead. The higher in elevation, the less of the stuff, so as I neared the high point my speed increased since there was more rock and yellow grass.

The entire area seemed to be crisscrossed by countless narrow trails through many of the brushy areas. I could never decide if they were made by moose or caribou, or else hunters after them. These paths came and went, and often helped, but were easily lost. After a while I stopped trying to follow them if I could travel in the right direction on easy terrain (rock, yellow, or red) instead.

After many ups and downs with constant routefinding and GPS use, I got to hill 680m, thinking it was the high point, but a quick map check showed I had a little further to go. To my surprise, the true summit has a huge cairn and some concrete footings that may be the remains of an old fire tower or cabin. No first ascent for me, obviously. I was on top at 12:35 PM, a bit over three hours up.

I had an overcast day and it was quite cold and windy up on the ridges, so I didn‘t stay long after eating my lunch and resting, Views were good, especially to Victoria Lake (which at the time I thought was Grand Lake). There was no sign of civilization anywhere. I was on top for about 25 minutes and I left at 1 PM.

My downward trip was a bit of a slog due to the rain and drizzle that got me pretty wet. The bushwhack sections were OK at first but near Lake 495m the bushes had gotten wet enough to really soak me as I fought through them. The worst part of both my outbound and inbound trips was the tuckamore just up from the lake.

I followed the relatively good 1.5 km trail from Lake 495 to Lake 365—maybe parts of it were a moose trail but I am somewhat confident that some of it was worn down by human traffic, likely hunters. I was at the car by 3:45 PM, pleased with a rare “first Pekabagger ascent” of this obscure peak at least.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1706 ft / 519 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1706 ft / 519 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.8 mi / 17.3 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Overcast
Light rain on way back
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1378 ft / 420 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1050 ft / 320 m; Extra: 328 ft / 99m
    Loss on way in:328 ft / 99 m
    Distance:5.4 mi / 8.7 km
    Route:X-C from west
    Start Trailhead:Route 480  1214 ft / 370 m
    Time:3 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1378 ft / 420 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1050 ft / 320 m; Extra: 328 ft / 99m
    Gain on way out:328 ft / 99 m
    Distance:5.4 mi / 8.6 km
    Route:X-C from west
    End Trailhead:Route 480  1214 ft / 370 m
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file




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