Yearly Archives: 2013

Unnecessary Mountain, 20 Oct 2013

Will on Unnecessary Mountain:
“Two people came along with me on a very unpromising-looking Sunday morning. A few kilometres up the road to Cypress Bowl we broke into the sunshine and were above the clouds in the warm sunshine all day.

We took the Howe Sound Crest trail over St Mark’s Summit and on to Unnecessary, stopping for lunch in between Unnecessary’s two main summits and continuing towards the Lions until we hit our turnaround time.

There are lots of ups and downs on this trail and it’s rough in places. But the forest lower down is beautiful, and the part along Unnecessary was lovely: hiking on granite slabs among fall colours, with great views all around.”

Out of the trees

Elfin Lakes, 15 Oct 2013

Kamen at Elfin Lakes:
“They said it couldn’t be done but we slowly motored our way up to the Elfin Lakes parking lot in my 2WD 1989 Mazda 323. The road was a little bumpy in places but, as long as you take your time, you will get there just fine. We hit the trail around 11 am and enjoyed a brisk pace as stunning mountain vistas revealed themselves to us as we started the gradual ascent. After passing Red Heather and turning onto the hikers’ trail, it became quite muddy which quickly turned into solid yet crunchy snow with isolated patches of bare ground. There were very few other hikers on the trail and we mostly marched in silence. We reached Elfin Lakes after just about 2.5 hours and explored the area thoroughly as we thought it would take a good deal longer to reach than it actually had. The way down was a little tougher as the sun had melted through the top layer of snow so it was slushy on the way back and slowed us down a bit. Got back to the car almost 2.5 hrs after we left and enjoyed some well-deserved food & drink at the Howe Sound Brewery.”

Wedgemount Lake, 26 Sep 2013

Will at Wedgemount Lake:
“Five hikers squeezed into Andy’s car and piled out at the trailhead, starting up the trail just before 9 am. Two weeks ago it still felt like summer: this morning it felt like winter was just around the corner, with ice on the trail from the boulder field onwards. The gradient kept us warm enough, though, and we got up the headwall in a fairly leisurely 3 hours. Cook, Weart, Wedge, Parkhurst, and Rethel looked properly spectacular with a dusting of snow under blue skies.

We had lunch on the promontory overlooking the west end of the lake, then wandered alongside the lake for a closer look at the glacier. A quick snack at the hut and we were back down the trail and at the car by 6 pm.

Thanks to everyone for coming out, especially Andy for driving.”

Weart-Wedge

Galloping Goose, 31 Aug 2013

Keith cycling the Galloping Goose trail:
“I had Markus and Amy sign up for the jaunt and the weather was perfect. Recently I have done a few things I have not done before and many have been bike related: Pemberton Slow Food Cycle Tour, Whistler Gran Fondo, and cycling the Oregon Coast as well. I have made crabapple hot pepper jelly as well for the first time – great with camembert on crackers! Galloping Goose was one I have wanted to do for a while and it looked like a good time to do it. The trail is about 180 km to Sooke and back to the ferry. It is an old rail bed so I think the grade is no more than 2 or 3 % – even though when everything is flat you notice the “hills”.

The group met up and we were off! The ride into Victoria was basic – the trail is mostly crushed gravel and mixed with pavement. We stopped to say hi to the pigs and they were not so interested. I bowled an orange towards one of them but no movement. The blackberries were big, juicy, ripe, tasty, plentiful and easy to pick. The blackberries seem to get another month in Victoria and are usually better. They were good. BC Ferries had a blueberry promo with White Spot on the ferry – I considered taking off the blueberries in the café to make their offering more tasty and more local; I decided this would be frowned upon.

We had a stop at Thrifty’s for lunch and got a few supplies. Amy had some issues with her bike Clunky Sue with the chain jamming. We continued on. We found a bike shop that did a bit of work and got it hopefully running along well. There are not many bike shops along the route and if you see one and THINK you need something looked at – stop in! The owner of the shop was very thankful for blackberry thorns – he seems to do good business with punctures due to them.

After we were fixed up and a couple of near misses between bikes, the trail was meandering and nice. As we neared Sooke you cross the Sooke Road and Sooke is still about 30 minutes into Sooke proper. If you want dinner out there is a pub called the Stickleback just 2 minutes west down the road before the Shell station. The beer selection is great and the food tasty and reasonable – get the tsunami fries!

The trail is very pleasant and has different smells along the way – from moth balls, to watermelon, to sweet blackberries that are past their prime. We rolled into the Sooke Potholes campground around 7 pm or so and set up for the night after biking some of the bigger trestles – didn’t realize how high up they are. There is a spot for bikers to camp with a big fire ring. I had a dream about a wolverine-like man attacking us, but nothing actually happened. This time 🙂

We had a quick but really nice swim at the potholes in the morning and biked on back towards the ferry. We (I) picked some more blackberries – they were just that good. We saw one rabbit, some pigs, horses and that’s about it.

I met a guy on the ferry who I called White Bread Will as that was what he ordered for food after cutting Markus off in the line up, he was drunk and was biking to Winnipeg on a rough looking machine. I urged him to get some air in his tires as they were super low.

The trail is easy to follow, flat, and a great trip for the fall. Overall a great trip that can be done as a day trip or comfortable 2 or 3 day trip.

Overall a fun trip and great weather!!”

Waterfalls Plateau, 31 Aug 2013

Chris N. on Waterfalls Plateau:
“The lack of 4wds on Wanderung showed as I couldn’t scare up another driver and the ensuing logistical complications meant that only 2 of us left Vancouver at 7 am on our way to adventure and discovery. The Hurley was pretty awful – really in need of a grading. There was a huge pack of cars at the Semaphore Lakes trailhead as we passed – almost as many as you see at the Keith’s Hut parking area. The first 7 km of the Hope Creek FSR were in pretty good condition with some minor rutting left over from a recent wet spell. The east branch was definitely 4wd with frequent short but sharp waterbars needing good clearance and a 1 km stretch of close alder. We parked at the Beaujolais / Mystery scrambling parking area. The bushwhacking was moderate and short and we would encounter the odd flagging but didn’t find any specific trail except animal routes. Most of the route to Noel Pass was in narrow, heathery meadows. A tarn at the pass yielded almost-frog tadpoles, a newt and a multitude of water boatman bugs. We also encountered signs of winter sled traffic – shredded beer cans. We side-hilled into Noel encountering much krummholz and steep forest. Climbing the first side valley on the west brought us onto the rocky plateau that I had hoped would be more vegetated. But we found good camping spots near a tarn that was still melting out. On the middle day, we rambled west and found even better camping spots as we went and plentiful tarns. We interrupted a ptarmigan party, watched raptors hunt and eavesdropped on pika conversations. At one point, we spotted what may have been a wolverine! Returning to the car on the Monday, we descended due south through meadows and an old burn encountering some old flagging tape on the way back to the road. Along the way, we swashbuckled moptops and discussed the prevalence of walrus-mounted alpine mammals.”

Sigurd Creek, 18 Aug 2013

Eugene at Sigurd Creek:
“The gloomy forecast did not deter our group, as 7 of us set to explore the upper portion of the Sigurd Creek trail.

Driving to the trailhead was a breeze, as the Squamish River road has seen lots of improvements in the last couple of months. Most of the potholes are now gone, and, apart from the last few kilometres of gravel, it was all new asphalt.

The trail itself is well maintained and clearly marked. From the trailhead, it took us slightly over an hour to reach Crooked Falls. Even though the waterfalls have lost about half of the volume since May, they were still quite spectacular!

After taking pictures of the waterfalls from different angles, we returned to the trail junction and proceeded along a fairly steep section of the main trail, just past the first viewpoint. Finally, the trail somewhat leveled up, as we reached another jucntion. We took the left fork (toward Ossa and Pelion) and proceeded along a somewhat marshy/wet area sprinkled with blueberries. As the trail approached the creek (shortly before the second viewpoint), we found a good spot for lunch right next to the cascades.

Finally the trail leveled up as it reached the second view point (which we almost missed). Unfortunately, as we were proceeding further along the main trail we bumped into two wasp nests and all of us got stung. The first (larger) nest was about 10-15 min past the second viewpoint where the trail was crossing an open area densely overgrown with bushes and Devil’s Club plants. The second one was about 5 minutes further along the trail. Apparently the area is prone to wasps, as they were mentioned in a couple of older trip reports in 2005 and 2009.

At this point, we abandoned our plans for the moraine camp and turned back. The problem was that we had to pass the nests again, as an alternative would be to do bushwhacking through the stinging Devil’s Club plants and potentially other wasp nests. And, unfortunately, not all of us had long pants. So we put on all the clothes we had and quickly ran through the area as a compact group with more lightly dressed people staying in the front. This strategy proved fairly successful…

In this ordeal, everyone showed an enormous level of cooperation, as people were sharing their anti-histamine supplies and helping each other to inspect/remove the stings. Thank you Jaime, Katarina, Milie, Alice, Tu Loan, and Ellie, for keeping a cool head, you are awesome!

The way down was somewhat slower than going up as many portions of the trail were fairly muddy and slippery. As the weather improved, we caught a decent view from the second lookouts. However the Pelion glacier has substantially receded since May and was barely visible.

I’d like this report to serve as a reminder to all the “minimalist” hikers about the importance of being prepared for wilderness. One can encounter wasps even on the most-travelled routes; perhaps, some of you remember a nest on the Lynn Peak trail (!) a few years ago. It’s always a good idea to carry a long-sleeve jacket and long pants with you even on the hottest day; you never know when they come handy…”

Bug Lake, 14 Aug 2013

Steve v revisiting Bug Lake:
“Oddly, the night BEFORE hiking Bug Lake a second time, I was bitten by mosquitos at home and still have huge bites on me. On the trail, the bugs weren’t bad this time, but I was stung by a bee twice!

This hike was a grudge match, two of us had gone up before and not made it to the top. Eric and I went prepared this time with Frank (a hearty German visitor that had cycled much of the Elaho and Squamish backroads).

This time, instead of walking an extra 4 km on each end due to a slide blocking the road (the tree, however, was cleared) we took bikes and cut that time way down as we rang bells and yelled to scare off any bears we might overtake.

The hike itself was harder this time (for me), and I don’t know why. I found myself out of breath early but I guess it is the second highest gradient listed in 103 Hikes so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Unfortunately there was high cloud and later rain, so like the first time, it was a bit of a dark hike and slippery on the way down.

So, is a lake with such an un-appealing name worth doing? I’d say no, not if you just go to the lake anyway. Way too much drama to get there, and minimal payoff save for a few wide views and a mediocre lake. However, maybe what we did would be comparable to entering the shipping entrance of the Taj Mahal. Apparently the famous mountaineer John Clarke considered this area his favourite when accessed from the other side. I get the feeling that like many 103 Hikes, we just got to the door but the payoff was another 5 km away.”

Phelix Creek, 1 Aug 2013

Steve v. at Phelix Creek:
“Sometimes the weatherman does get it right. A few people (understandably) only wanting to see the ridges around The Brian Waddington hut in decent weather decided to postpone due to poor reports. However at the last minute the reports changed to say only rain in the morning and late after noon of Thursday, and in late morning Friday. Both were bang on. We had a leisurely hike in to the cabin in mild temperatures and slight overcast, and then we did a side trip up a slope near Gandalf mountain and got caught in a thunderstorm 5 minutes from the cabin where we ate dinner warm and inside. In the morning a dry hike out until the last 10 min before the truck.

The Brian Waddington hut sits at the end of Long Lake surrounded by peaks named after notable Lord of the Rings characters. Wildflowers were out and the whole place is very picturesque. Moreover, with the possible exception of Elfin Shelter, this is one of the nicest huts I’ve ever been in, and we had it all to ourselves. The VOC takes very good care of it, at $10 it was a bargain to stay warm and dry. Like any Pemberton hike, this one was worth doing as an overnighter or more if you want to explore those ridges.

The road in is the topic of discussion on many forums. We made it no problem in a new Rav 4 (7.5 inch clearance). Basically anything that calls itself more than a regular car and has AWD would have no problems except the need to pick over a few easy water bars. The foliage on the side of the road is minimal and careful driving can avoid any scratching. Big thanks to Christine for providing her car not knowing that until we got there!”

Phelix Creek, Aug 2013

Alder Flats, 27 Jul 2013

Kamen at Alder Flats:
“Four of us set out on a slightly overcast day to explore the approach to Golden Ears. The sun was out and shining when we hit the trail. Light conversation followed as we made good time hiking this fairly well-maintained and not-busy-at-all trail. Some of the bridges and boardwalks were in various states of disrepair which were easily circumvented due to the dry weather lately. We hiked 20 mins past Alder Flats until we got a viewpoint with a fantastic view of the Ears and surrounding mountains. We enjoyed the sun and views for awhile before heading back to the car and back to the big city.”

Golden Ears, 27 Jul 2013

Stacey A. atop Golden Ears:
“Mark, Mike, and Tanya joined me on an overnight hike to Golden Ears. The first part of the hike to Alder Flats was fairly straight forward with some elevation gain. After Alder Flats, you climb up an old logging road that now resembles more of a creek bed, due to the larger rocks, before the steeper hiking starts just after the stairs. The route is well marked with flagging, but we could see where people could get off the trail if not paying attention (per some of the Club Tread posts). The trail climbs consistently up until you hit Panorama Ridge, at times requiring a bit of acrobatics and fancy footwork with our big packs on! The Golden Ears website said the shelter was at the 9 km mark, but it was closer to the 11 km mark. A good part of the trail is in the trees which made for a nice break from the sun, but as you near the ridge, it becomes more exposed. There was no snow the entire way to the shelter/Panorama Ridge. Lots of snow & run off surrounding the shelter and up towards the summit, so lots of opportunity to get water (but you have to cross a bit of a slippery slope to get to the stream). There was no outhouse to be found at the shelter either. LOTS of biting black flies and mosquitoes the whole way up and at camp. That being said, if you are considering doing this as a two day trip, it is absolutely worth the effort to camp at the ridge!! For the hike to the summit, I believe there is a possibility to complete most of it without needing to get on the snow. The snow is fairly soft and quite slippery. Our crew had crampons and was able to hike straight up the snow to a bit of a saddle just before the final ascent (and we saw people doing it with nothing, although they seemed to be slipping a fair bit). There was a steeper scramble right before the summit. The route we took from the shelter took less than an hour to the summit.”