Category Archives: Backpacking

Elsay Lake, 16 Aug 2016

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’.”

Fissile, Whirlwind, and Overlord Peaks, 13 Aug 2016

Dean C. on Fissile, Whirlwind, and Overlord Peaks:
“Ella, Q & I went to Russet Lake Aug 13-14 to see the meteor shower and to scramble up Fissile, Whirlwind and Overlord peaks. After reaching the hut, Ella and I slogged up Fissile’s scree treadmill and steep summit ridge, then after a brief summit celebration we slid back down for dinner where no less than 28 tents were now pitched! Popular place for meteor gazing, and we saw two later that evening. On Sunday I quickly solo-ed Whirlwind, Refuse Pinnacle and Overlord in less than 4 hours return, motivated to return, pack up, and meet them at the village; after enduring more Musical Bumps in the heat, we were only 5 minutes apart (though they had time to take the Peak to Peak Gondola for some sightseeing). I was somewhat tired afterward and learned much from my experiment with duct tape on a tiny blister; I turned a mole hill into a mountain. Two day totals: 37 kms and 2,680 m elevation gain over 13.5 hours, and at least 6 unique peaks (with 12 actual summits).”

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Chipmunk and Tenquille Mountains, 6-7 Aug 2016

Chris M. at Chipmunk and Tenquille Mountains:
“Dean and Quirine joined me for an overnighter northwest of Pemberton. From Pemberton you travel West along the Pemberton Valley, cross the river, head up the Hurley and finally on to the Hope Creek Road FSR. This logging road is easy. A 2wd car could make it as far as I could; which is about 2 km from the road end.

There is a faint route through the trees that is well-flagged. Until you cross the creek. After that you have to find your own way but the bushwhacking wasn’t too hard. We reached our camping spot at Opal Lake in about 2 hours.

Saturday afternoon we scrambled up Tenquille Mountain. (Dean also went over and bagged Goat Peak). The weather was perfect. The views were lovely. The flowery sections were blooming. Instead of star-gazing during the night we all stayed in our tents, as we were entertained by the sounds of rolling thunder and intermittent rain.

By the morning the storm had passed and we decided it was nice enough to hike up another mountain. We were standing on the summit of Chipmunk Peak less than 2 hours later. On the way down we passed through many wonderful meadows full of flowers. All different colours of flowers. In one section the flowers were up to hip high!

The bugs didn’t want us to sit down and enjoy them however, so we marched back to camp and packed up. During the hike out we saw two moose. Everyone enjoyed changing into clean clothes once back at the car. Along the road we saw a deer and a bear.

We each had a different delicious burger at Mile One. It was very nice to split the driving duties as the drive from parking spot to Burnaby was 250 km.”

Southern Chilcotins, 30 Jun 2016

Chris N. in the Southern Chilcotins:
“Matt, Doug and I spent 4 days camped in Graveyard Valley in the Southern Chilcotins and exploring the surrounding ridges. Access was via the Hurley (thoroughly unpleasant but 2wd-able), the Tyaughton Lake road (washboard-y corners but 2wd), Taylor-Mud Connector (slick when wet descending to the Tyaughton Creek crossing but 2wd otherwise), Mud Creek FSR (excellent; very 2wd), Mud-Paradise FSR (one berm 2/3 of the way down the hill to Tyaughton Creek might be 2wd; pothole-y after hill but reportable 2wd beyond the Tyaughton Creek trailheads) and the Relay Creek FSR (totally not 2wd right from the start). The last road requires high clearance 4wd and lots of nerves. There’s channeling, creek crossings, deep rutting, mudpits, off-camber sections with exposure and one steep off-camber hill with bad traction. We spent 1/2 hour doing some road work (bring shovels!) and made it to the road end. But this road isn’t going to last many more years. Once on the trail, they are generally easy to follow but wet at this time of year. We spent most of our time off-trail up in the alpine though and encountered very little snow – even above 2500 m. Deer, wolf, bear and moose tracks abound. Saw a sow grizzly with 3 yearly cubs and a wolf. And met no-one else. An excellent trip to my favourite part of the province.”

Flower Forest

Harrison Hut, 6 May 2016

Colleen C. at Harrison Hut/Meager Hot Springs:

“Thanks to our two capable 4WD drivers we made it all the way to the trailhead. There is active logging in this area and the road was being improved in preparation of more. I always feel torn by this. On the one hand it can be hard to see the results of that industry, but on the other hand I use paper products and without these roads I wouldn’t be able to access the mountains that I love to be in.

We made it up to the hut the first day (which we had all to ourselves!) but it was a long slog and just the first of three long days. We went in and out of snow the whole way up. Three made it to the hut without using snowshoes, but two of us put them on after the Barr Creek crossing. The snow will be gone soon which will likely make the crossings more challenging.

The next day we split into two groups. Three summitted Frozen Boot Peak, a steep hike up then a reportedly enjoyable ridgewalk. Fred and I made a loop up to Two Doctors Peak / Mt Andropov with a side goal of seeing the Meager Obelisk. We found it as we were coming down from the summit, tucked in a small cirque. We admired it from the top of the cliffs, then continued over to the col by Pine Peak and back down to the hut. Sometime while we were gone, a bear walked over our tracks near the hut, but we didn’t see one then.

Each group had a walkie talkie so we were able to communicate throughout the day, still we were pleased that everyone got back by the appointed time. We packed up and headed down to the hot springs, getting there just after dark. The hot springs are lovely but popular, at least 30 people were already there. If you choose to visit this site, please not only practice leave no trace but also do your part to maintain the pools – there is no one else to do it for you!

The last day, we hiked out and started the long drive back to Vancouver. A black bear was seen from the trail and another on the logging road driving out. Plus we saw many frogs!

Huge thanks to the UBC Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC). We all paid the hut fee and didn’t use any wood, but that feels insufficient compared to the work involved in maintaining an outhouse, hut and trail. A particular thanks to one of our group who has helped out with one of the work parties. Whenever you clamber over a log with a chainsaw cut in it to make it easier and guide your steps, you’ll appreciate his handiwork!”

Lindeman Lake, 16 Apr 2016

Andrew W. at Radium Flora Lindeman Lake:
“It was a last minute callout with some last minute changes due to snow.

First up: Radium Lake. One look at the snow level and that idea was quickly changed. Second up: Flora. We got 3/4 of the way there (after many a switchback) but then encountered deeper snow (2-3 ft or so) than expected so a return to base was the wisest course of action. Naturally, we were equipped to camp and camp we did. Lindeman Lake was relatively quiet and a refreshing night.

Pics on the Flickr pool as per usual.”

Chilliwack Lake

Tetrahedron Park, 20 Nov 2015

Tu Loan in Tetrahedron Park:
“What I learned from this weekend’s callout to Tetrahedron Provincial Park:

1. It’s OK to do a callout to somewhere you’ve never been. Good chance your group has a wealth of experience and can help you figure out how to get where you’re supposed to go!

2. It’s OK to be super early at the ferry… not really, but your group members will not be annoyed with you because you’re doing the callout and they’re grateful for it.

3. It’s OK to park your awesomely reliable car at the first parking lot because you don’t want to damage the shocks on it like you did last time when you had to drive up a rough road. Plus, your gang appreciated the extra 1KM walk after being in transit for a few hours.

4. All is good when you bring food to share! Happy Hour in the backcountry is a sure winning tactic and people will gladly forgive you for the unnecessary early wake-up and extra 1KM hike.

5. Lugging eggs in their original carton will surely impress your group.

6. I should download maps onto my GPS. And learn how to read it properly. But following snowshoe tracks is a sure bet.

7. Cabins are great places to meet other interesting people. It’s kind of like a hostel, but better because you’re in the middle of nowhere and someone worked just as hard to get there as you did!

8. My pot set is perfect for making chocolate fondue!

9. Happy Hour in the backcountry rocks. See #4.

10. Wanderungers are an interesting bunch!! Thank you Erin, Dev, and Lisa Dawn for the great fireside chats about quantum physics, politics, traveling, and food – my favourite topics to talk about (minus the quantum physics).”

Brandywine Mountain, 3 Oct 2015

Chris M. on Brandywine Mountain:
“The combination of easy access and nice alpine makes Brandywine a good last-minute weekend destination. My Xterra made it to the 4wd parking area with no problems. The trail through the meadows has been upgraded and now there is very little mud. We left the valley before the end went south up to the ridge where we scouted out camping locations. From our vantage it was fun to watch different groups take various routes up the mountain. They all looked like coloured ants. In the evening we made a good firepit and soaked in the superb star show.

We didn’t rush in the morning but we were still easily the first people up to the summit on Sunday. We didn’t have to cross any snow and the views were fabulous. When we returned to camp we took a siesta before packing up and taking a slightly different route back down. Our travel time between parking and camping was around 2 hours, both ways,

Paul, Amy & Liam all had a similar desire for a relaxing but satisfying alpine trip, which made for a perfect group experience. The warm sunny weather was fantastic; especially for October.”

Illal Meadows traverse, 26 Sep 2015

Colleen C. at Illal Meadows:
“In spite of the evidence hitting the windshield on the drive out to the Coquihalla, I remained stubbornly optimistic the clouds would clear and we’d have glorious sunshine all weekend. As it turned out, I was half right and we got to enjoy a snowstorm too!

After a fairly smooth ride along the 20 km of the Tulameen Road and then a deftly driven 3-km up the bumpy Illal Creek road (still waterbarred but less bushy than I remembered) we made it all the way to the trailhead. The 5-km Illal Meadows trail gives straightforward access to the meadows, a lovely area with white rock, heather and tarns, from which one can choose their own adventure (Jim Kelly and Coquihalla Mts are popular objectives).

Just as we made it out of the forest, the wind picked up and cold, swirling white stuff filled the skies. We found a sheltered spot in a tree clump to eat lunch and imagined the views around us – the elusive Illal Unicorn featuring prominently. With next to no visibility, we went another 3 hrs around Illal Peak and NNE along the ridge towards Spiral before finding a suitable camp spot.

We awoke to sunny skies and after a leisurely breakfast continued along the ridge to Spiral (minor scrambling). After lunch on the summit, we wandered back to camp to pack up. Heading back we enjoyed the views we missed the day before. Identifying peaks, marvelling at the fall colours, searching for salamanders, and engaging in serious squirrel discussions, the day went by all too quickly.

Thanks for staying cheerful, sharing snacks and warmth, and maintaining a sense of humour – you all made it a great trip!”

Sunshine Coast Trail, 30 Aug 2015

Stephen H. on the Sunshine Coast Trail:
“Nine days into our 10-day, 178-kilometre journey on the Sunshine Coast Trail, I ran out of toilet paper. But there was no way I could hold it until the next outhouse at Rainy Day Lake, so a corner of the Powell River recreation map was sacrificed for the cause.

While the SCT isn’t as difficult as the North Coast Trail, which took me six days to backpack in August, it offers its own special set of challenges. Traversing the Upper Sunshine Coast from Sarah Point to Saltery Bay, the SCT offers no beach hiking, climbs up and over a few mountains, and covers three times as much distance as the NCT.

It’s largely a forest trail — one that visits old-growth groves, clear-cuts, and everything in between. Eleven huts provide shelter along the way, so hikers can plan to spend all but two nights under their roofs. Hotels in Powell River, which is a good place to resupply, often profit from one of the remaining nights, while the other typically involves tent camping near Lois Lake.

Lund Water Taxi provided transportation to the trailhead at Sarah Point. Travelling north to south, we camped at Plummer Creek; slept in a motel in Powell River (and enjoyed an excellent dinner at Costa del Sol restaurant); stayed in the huts at Anthony Island, Fiddlehead Landing, Tin Hat Mountain, Elk Lake, and Walt Hill; tented at Stanley Creek; and spent our final night in the Rainy Day Lake hut. Most of the huts are open-air affairs, but a few are winterized and feature pellet stoves for heat.

Although our thru-hike lasted 10 days — the original plan was 11 days, but August’s big windstorm delayed our water taxi — I recommend 12 days of hiking plus one travel day on the front. If a more leisurely pace is preferable, you could take as long as 14 days.

We found the best views on Manzanita Bluffs, Scout Mountain, Tin Hat Mountain, and Walt Hill. Mount Troubridge is the highest point on the SCT, but its treed summit was foggy during our visit.

All in all, hiking the SCT from end to end was an experience I will never forget. Thanks so much to Jason and Svetlana for joining me on this trek.

See photos from the trip here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shui/sets/72157658135544789

Tin Hat Mountain hut from summit at sunrise