Andy G. on Brandywine Mountain:
“Brandywine has quickly become one of my favourite summits. It’s a great mix of easy hiking and more challenging boulder-hopping with some steep terrain and a bit of route-finding thrown in for good measure. And then there are the stunning views. Mountains, glaciers, meadows, lakes… Definitely a hike to save for a sunny day.
The new trail into the meadows still has a muddy spot or two but it’s a massive improvement on the old trail. We were in the upper meadows within an hour or so. Beyond that there is an intermittent trail and cairns for guidance up to the ridge. More cairns point the way up to the higher part of the ridge, although they run out a couple of hundred metres short of the summit, which is where the route-finding comes it as the summit can’t be seen at this point. The summit itself is a small bump on top of a bigger bump, big enough for our group to find (un)comfy rocks to sit on to enjoy lunch.
The road to the upper parking lot is very rough and steep in places: our CR-V struggled in a couple of spots with a full load of 5 hikers. A vehicle with some clearance is a good idea as the bumpy road causes the vehicle to bounce quite a bit. A Subaru Outback made it up OK though. Budget about half an hour for the logging road.
Car-to-car was almost exactly 8 hours (we were leaving the meadows just as the sun set). We finished the day with a quick bite at the Howe Sound Brew Pub before heading home. Thanks to Sarah, Simon, Anna, and Janavie for joining me and making it such a great day out.”
Ying D. on Gabriola Island:
“We had a very fun weekend touring Gabriola Island. Gabriola, although the flattest of the southern Gulf Islands, is definitely not flat. We had a good workout. You will encounter uphills and downhills throughout your loop of the island. The uphill and downhill are gradual and doable though. Most of the routes are decently paved. A hidden gem we discovered during this trip is Gabbie’s Cider and the orchard. The apples right from the tree and the cider are heavenly! Highly recommended. We also found our spontaneous short ride along Berry Point Rd to Orlebar Point very enjoyable (not part of the loop). It was a very scenic (along the ocean) and smooth (well paved route) ride.”
Eugene Y. on Frosty Mountain:
“Seven of us went to explore the legendary alpine larches in Manning Park. We parked at the beautiful Lightning Lake and proceeded along the well-maintained trail toward Frosty Mountain. The trail was in excellent shape and easy to follow. After a two-hour pleasant walk amid bright-red and yellow fall colours we had a lunch break at the Frosty Creek campsite. After another half-an-hour walk we finally reached the Larch Plateau and then continued along the partially snow-covered trail toward the mountain. The larches had just started to turn yellow, so the predominant colour was golden-olive. The snow on the ground was already partially covered by yellow needle-like leaves.
As we started climbing the slopes of Frosty, the snow got deeper and reached about 20 cm at places. However, the final walk along the ridge was mostly snow-free.
Finally, we reached the summit. The views on the surrounding partially-covered snow peaks were truly breathtaking!
The descend was was fairly straightforward, although some portions of the trail were a bit slippery. We didn’t use microspikes, however, we found hiking poles really helpful.
Some stats. At a leisurely pace while taking lots of pictures, it took us about 4.5 hours from the parking lot to the peak and 3 hours to get back to the car.”
Chris N. on the Skywalk Trail:
“Nikolay, Estafan, Kelley, Michelle, Jodi, and Jordon joined me on a hike around the new Skywalk Trail in Whistler. This trail connects a few existing trails and explores the alpine on the east side of Rainbow Mtn. There are a couple trailheads one can use including the Rainbow Lake trailhead, the end of Alpine Way and the end of Mountain View Drive. We chose the latter as there is plenty of parking right at the trailhead (if you opt for Alpine Way, you have to park on Drifter Way and walk the road to the trailhead). The route is well signed with plenty of official and unofficial notices which is helpful as there are lots of trails that branch off in various directions.
We headed up the Lower 19 Mile Creek trail and then up the Screaming Cat Connector to the Flank trail. Finally up the Screaming Cat Lake trail. The junction with the start of the Skywalk North trail is unsigned but is at a clearing within a minute or 2 of the lake. A fainter trail (the one you want) heads left and around the lake. Iceberg Lake is only 100 m higher in elevation than Screaming Cat but the trail rambles up and down through alpine glades so you will feel like half of the elevation gain is in this section. You actually descend 100 m to Iceberg Lake where Skywalk North ends. Pick up the Upper 19 Mile Creek trail about 10 m north of the outlet of the lake. We elected to stick with this trail instead of branching off on the Skywalk South trail about 700 m east of Iceberg. Skywalk South climbs higher and spends more time in the alpine but the weather wasn’t providing much in the way of views. Upper 19 Mile connects with the Flank trail where one has to go east for about 50 m to find the continuation (Lower 19 Mile). There’s many mystery branches off this portion of the trail but the route we wanted was signed at all junctions. It took us about 7.5 hours with a lunch break but not much other lingering due to the cold weather.
A map of the Skywalk trail and its connecting trails can be found at https://www.cheakamuscommunityforest.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Don-MacLaurin-Skywalk-Trail-Map.pdf.”
Rob M. at Elsay Lake:
“Last report was 8 years ago by Tim G. By golly, it’s in our backyard, and backyard is where I dialled this – leaving behind my sleeping bag mattress, bug net, camp stove and tent.
Michael proved that you can purchase carefully vetted, off-brand items online that are quite good. His ultralite 8 peg, single pole, low profile wedge tent with interior bug net and floor was impressive. I went with 8×10 SilTarp and light GoreTex bivy. Tamara was sporting MEC’s first ultralite 2 person tent, the Spark 2, weighing in at about 1.5 kg. Its brilliant colours and transparency effectively make it a night lantern.
The lake hike begins with the ease and familiarity of a hike to Brockton Point on Mount Seymour. Just before the ascent to Pump Peak, the trail suddenly digresses east towards Theta Lake. This is the beginning of a rad series of changing micro terrain. The first half follows a cirque-like feature below Runner Peak – a steep 300-m descent through boulder fields, rockfall and a narrow rock-filled gully. The second half is a more genial 300-m descent some of which is through beautiful arboreal forest some of which reminded me of Miyazaki’s anime forest scenes.
BC Parks has a well maintained hut on the north east shore of the lake. It sleeps about 9 in its loft, is surrounded by well established tenting spots and is out of reach of the shadow cast by Mount Elsay towering 600 m above the lake. The shallow lake itself is stocked with fish and was warm the day we were there.
An awesome and challenging place for chillin’ and fishin’.”
Eugene Y. at Watersprite Lake:
“Nine of us went to explore the new trail to the Watersprite Lake near Squamish. Mamquam FSR was in a decent shape, and our Subaru Outback and Forester quickly made it to the bridge across the Mamquam river (~13 km mark). However, the remaining 7 km along the Skookum Dam road were much more challenging. It would be most certainly unwise to attempt this trip in a smaller car.
The trail was fairly well marked and easy to follow. The first couple of hours we were mostly walking along some old logging roads through a large clear-cut area covered with shrubs and small trees. The route offered a good glimpse of the Garibaldi and Mamquam mountains through the clouds.
The trail became more challenging once we reached the boulder field. The last portion of the trail was fairly steep and involved quite a bit of scrambling. Overall, it took our group about 4 hours (8.5 km) to reach the lake from the upper parking lot.
The lake was truly mesmerizing. All those small islands amidst the soft turquoise waters appeared like in some children’s fairyland. The whole atmosphere was one of a dream and meditation.
Thank you for all the volunteers for building a trail to this little paradise!”