Category Archives: Backpacking

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”

Cape Scott, 1 Aug 2015

Andrew W. at Cape Scott:
“Six hikers planned to hike in Cape Scott Provincial Park on the August long weekend. Planning was a breeze, meals were arranged, group gear sorted and carpool and tent space for all confirmed.

The Cape Scott Trail itself was very dry (a far contrast from the mud that Cape Scott is famous for) and the beaches all so sandy and beautiful. The weather was incredible with only a little bit of rain in the morning while we were safe in our tents. Surprisingly the trail was not very busy at all nor were the campgrounds. It was cooler temperature wise than in Vancouver but still warm so everyone went for a swim a couple afternoons to cool off and relax the muscles. Sleeping with the sound of waves crashing on the beach made for restful nights.

Nels Bight was our campsite of choice for two nights with a day hike to the lighthouse part of our journey. We camped at San Josef Bay for our final night as to provide a change of scenery and a shorter hike out to the car before the long drive home.

Plenty of food was shared among all, including a buffet of freeze dried meals providing ample opportunity to sample!

Lots of wildlife was spotted, including but not limited to: black bears, humpback whales, eagles, squirrels, I’m likely forgetting one or two sightings, there were a lot!

A wonderful way to spend a long weekend with great company!”

Sunset

Cirque Lake, 18 Jul 2015

Chris N. at Cirque Lake:
“The bushwhack in to Cirque from the Conflict Lake trail is far from straight-forward. Attempt only if you are very comfortable with steep bush and are armed with at least a map, compass and/or GPS, and a good, intuitive feel for where you are. Basically, we hiked the Conflict Lake trail for about 20 min to just past a small pond. From here, we bushwhacked north to find the base of the cliffy, discontinuous ridge running up to Hidden. Climbed the ridge until about 1600 m elevation where we started to sidehill along a set of narrow benches in the forest. Eventually, we found ourselves at a pass that dropped us down to the south-west corner of Cirque. We made our way around the west side of the lake and climbed the meadows to a ridge to the north-east. Here we camped (there’s several flat spots) just above a smaller lake. We climbed Lonely and explored more small lakes to the north (and found much garbage from snowmobilers who frequent the area from the Soo valley in the winter). We returned the way we came in but lost the route once we hit the ridge edge so we headed due south to meet the Conflict Lake trail about 10 min west of where we left it. If you are planning a trip in the area, canoeing to the end of Callaghan Lake and taking the established trail to Cirque would be much easier. The lake edge is steep in most places but there are some good camping spots to the north and 100 m higher than the lake.”

Twin Lakes, 28 Jun 2015

TLT on the TLT (Twin Lakes Trail):
“Happiness is…

Happiness is finding a crew looking for adventure.

Happiness is hiking through creeks, meadows bursting with wildflowers, and butterfly laden trails.

Happiness is jumping into a frigid lake after a hot hike.

Happiness is sharing meals, stories, and laughter.

Happiness is playing cards in a tent when the rain is pounding.

Happiness is waking up to glimpses of blue sky and a million dollar view.

Happiness is setting off on a day of scrambling, wanting to go higher, further…

Happiness is basking in the sun on the summit, watching the clouds float by.

Happiness is taking in the sea of mountains, planning our next mountain adventure.

Happiness is eating the most amazing home-made vegan meal.

Happiness is learning a new card game and laughing until we wept with tears.

Happiness is waking up and enjoying the silent beauty, knowing that we have all this wilderness to ourselves.

Happiness is… Twin Lakes

Thank you Ileana C and Shane P for a most amazing trip. It makes me want to organize more trips!”

IMG_7639

Mt Steele, 4 Jun 2015

Stephen H. on Mt Steele:
“This was a trip to remember. Celia, Helen, Jason, Svetlana, Tec, and Ying joined me for three incredible days in Tetrahedron Provincial Park. On Day 1, we tired ourselves out hiking to McNair cabin, and slept in Edwards Lake cabin. As night fell, in walked two of the park’s founders and cabin builders, who regaled us with tales from the park’s history. Day 2 saw us move up to Mount Steele cabin and ascend the summit, with its stunning views. On Day 3, we visited Batchelor Lake cabin on the way out to complete our grand tour. Then things got interesting back at the trailhead. One of our drivers popped a drivetrain on his jeep, stranding the vehicle on the logging road. Luckily, a towing company came to the rescue (let’s just say the bill wasn’t cheap), and we all managed to make the last ferry and get home.”

Elfin Lakes, 17 Apr 2015

Audrey at Elfin Lakes:
“I did a last minute callout on a Thursday when the weather forecast announced 4 days of amazing sunshine – indeed, the sun was out the whole time! I also found out about the shelter at Elfin Lakes and thought a weekday outside the summer seemed just perfect to enjoy such a popular spot. Elfin Lakes can be done in a day, but you would miss the best part: the sunset from the deck of the shelter, and the lovely chat with very nice people around your evening dinner 🙂

Stan and I started going up at about 1.30 pm Friday and reached Red Heather after 1h 30m, with snow from halfway. It took us 3 more hours on an amazing ridge with 360° views, to get to Elfin Lakes (which were of course, frozen!) Snowshoes were definitely required from Red Heather to Elfin Lakes because of the new, deep layer of snow that had fallen the week before. We saw many people the next day going up without them, but it was way easier and faster with them!

This was an amazing hike, with great views, a really slow way up (600 m in 11 km) and the shelter has everything you need: bunkbeds, stoves and even electricity (+ an outside pit toilet). Wow! It’s really worth the scramble in the snow! The landscape up there is gorgeous, especially with all the snow.

On Saturday, we took some time to explore the trails going further (unlike the winter trail to Elfin Lakes, which is very well marked and easy to find, trails going further are unmarked), but going further would require to spend one more day up there (especially with all the snow). It took us 3h 30m to go back and we ended the trip with a visit to Howe Sound Brewery in Squamish, yum!

What a fantastic trip, and also my first callout, thanks again for all the help through Facebook!”

Elfin Lakes 17-18 April

Brew Hut, 21 Feb 2015

Tu-Loan at Brew Hut:
“Another great trip into the backcountry with some good Wanderungers! An easy hike in, a great night to camp on the snow (with a hut for socializing, especially if there’s a bachelor party on the go!), and plenty of options for side trips were the highlights of this trip. If you haven’t seen the pictures yet, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76047188@N06/sets/72157648661841903

The information that most of you are looking for though is the directions to the trailhead! We almost didn’t do this trip! When we arrived at the trailhead as per the VOC directions, we were disheartened by the prospect of bushwhacking through an ugly mess of shrubs and pricklies. Fortunately, we bumped into a group of hikers who led us to the right trailhead, not too far from the original winter trailhead. At 8.6 km from the highway on the Roe FSR, take the right branch OR park there if one does not have a high clearance vehicle (this trip can be done with a 2wd, unless there is snow on the road). About 1 km from the junction (stay straight on the road and don’t mind the branches), you will see flagging tape on your right that will lead you through a clearcut. Markers on stumps are visible from the road. The trail is well marked (thank you VOC!), taking you through forest and a boulder field before it opens into some sweet territory. The hike to the cabin is about 4kms and not a whole lot of elevation to contend with.

Thank you Matt and Gary M for a great weekend. I’m looking forward to going back!”

Mt Brew Hut, Feb 21-22

Russet Lake, 8 Nov 2014

Chris M. at Russet Lake:
“Our small group of two went with a backup plan – 2-night trip to Russet Lake. I thought we would take the gondola up and hike down route. However, the gondola is shut down until Nov 27 so we started hiking from the village at noon. The Singing Pass Trail is very easy to follow, though there are two washouts, with the Harmony Creek one being the worst. After joining the trail from Musical Bumps the snow became much deeper than anticipated and I was postholing frequently. Because of that, just before dark we set up a tent on the snow and went to sleep with a nice view of Black Tusk. The snow was firmer in the morning and travel was much easier. We went directly over Cowboy Ridge and down to the lake and hut. Russet Lake had only recently frozen over and fresh water was still flowing out (I don’t know if this is available all winter long). It was clear and beautiful. The views were especially terrific from Cowboy Ridge, where we had gone back up to watch the colours after sunset. The temperature dropped and it was a very cold night in the hut. I wasn’t really ready for winter yet. The trail out was frozen and awkward in a few spots but still only took about 4.5 hours to reach the village of Whistler.”

Frozen Statues

Marriott Meadows, 2 Aug 2014

Stacey A. at Marriott Meadows:
“A long-weekend two-night trip to Marriott Meadows and Rohr Lake. Four of us made the trip and were fortunate to have a driver with 4WD 🙂 It’s a short access road to the trail head if you have to walk though. Lots of bugs the whole time: mosquitos, black flies, deer flies, you name it, they were biting us. I would suggest bringing bug hats at the least (or waiting until later in the season). One of our crew had a small over-bed mosquito net that pretty much saved us as we could eat under it, etc. That being said, my skin was mostly covered, I used almost an entire small bottle of Ben’s 30% deet spray, and I still managed to get almost 100 bites! The others seemed to have fared a bit better.

First night was spent at Rohr Lake. The trail to Rohr Lake is muddy in several spots. The last steep hill up to the lake is definitely muddy and slippery and requires care! Alternatively, you can head up the boulder field next to the path with ease. There seem to be about 6 spots for camping at the lake. No toilet or cache, and the trees aren’t ideal for hanging food. Lake is cold but swimmable! The hike to Mt. Rohr takes about 2 more hours from the lake. It’s mostly boulder fields, but well cairned for the way.

Second night was spent at the lake just below the Wendy Thompson Hut (we heard the hut was overfull with a large group of 22, plus others). Again the hike was muddy with a few creek crossings on logs. The terrain was varied with forest paths, meadows, and boulder fields. No apparent obvious camp spots on the lake, just put up our tents on a dry patch of grass. Lots of hikes from here to explore. The lake was cold but refreshing and great for swimming!

All around beautiful views for both areas!”

Twin Lakes, 26 Jul 2014

Tu Loan at Twin Lakes:
“Steps to an awesome backcountry trip through Wanderung:

  1. Place a callout to the most amazing place within a 4 hour drive: Twin Lakes (Haylmore-Melvin Divide in 103 Hikes Book).
  2. Be lucky enough to gather a group of great people who all pitch in to do their part to make the trip great: Elisa, meal sharer extraordinaire; Ty, beverage sharer extraordinaire; and Nima, human mule extraordinaire. TLT was photographer and meal sharer #1.
  3. Have a car that can drive 13 km on rough FSR and make rock clearing a sport amongst your passengers.
  4. Provide a doable and scenic 10 km hike through a U-shaped valley with plenty of flowers and creeks to distract from the bugs.
  5. Arrive at the first lake with plenty of time to take in the beauty of being in the alpine and the magnificent views mountains to the south and waterfalls to the north.
  6. Prepare a delicious meal for 4 with the non-chefs fighting off the now-not-so-cute-but-aggressive marmots (one ran off with Nima’s headlamp on our last day!). Beverages were well paired for the meal: white wine, après dinner port, and Bailey’s for yet hot chocolate.
  7. Be prepared for the unexpected cold evening! Ty’s bivy sack was frosted, inside and out, the next morning. Luckily, we had a structural engineer to explain the phenomenon.
  8. Spend the whole day exploring the area above the first lake, with a magical trek through a meadow of wildflowers!! Nearby peaks are scramble-able. Make sure you have Matt Gunn’s book to help with route finding.
  9. Enjoy a second evening of a delicious meal and wine pairing and great company.
  10. Pack up the last day and retrace trek back to car and head over to Birkenhead Provincial Park to find solace from heat and jump into the refreshing lake. This was also bought us time until HWY 99 southbound opens up again (Iron Man Canada).
  11. Enjoy after hike refreshments and meal in Pemberton!

    Thank you Elisa, Nima, and Ty for making my first overnighter callout so memorable with great stories, great food, and great company! Pictures as proof!

    Twin Lakes, July 25-27