October 2nd was a perfect hiking day on Thanksgiving Mountain in the Gray Creek Pass with golden larch trees, blue sky, perfectly clear air, and snowy peaks like icing on the cake. The seven hikers agreed: it had all the pleasures of a higher altitude hike without too much effort, and it was promptly added to personal lists of favourite hikes.
The trail passes through a pleasant mossy subalpine forest, then ascends steeply to an alpine meadow with a steep drop-off, giving stunning views to the north and east after less than an hour’s hiking. Another 30 minutes up, a boulder-strewn slope brings you to the top with 360 views which included Kootenay Lake, Crawford Bay, the West Arm, Kokanee Glacier, and a sea of peaks to the south and east.
A short walk along the narrow ridge top brings you to a viewpoint where you can look down at olive-green Oliver Lake, 1200 feet below. Sphinx Mountains to the north and Oliver Lake, which sits near the top of the pass.
Hikers came across the 8:10 ferry from Balfour and were at the trailhead at 10 AM. We were back down from the peak in 3 hours, with time to enjoy the pleasant trail around Oliver Lake, have coffee and a snack in Crawford Bay, and then catch the 3:40 back home.