Michelle on the Skyline and Silverdaisy trails:
“No rest for the wicked! Three early mornings allowed us to maximize the mileage on this 500 something cumulative km trek spanning two provincial parks. Skyline as a cross over hike was a fun and unique experience with 5 hikers from Skagit and 4 hikers from Manning enjoying more sunshine than drizzle (and just a flash of lightning) before meeting up at Mowich for an enjoyable evening together. West of Mowich, Skyline does offer fine views of Ross Lake and the North Cascades. However continual views of Hozameen, endless peaks, valleys and the Lightning Lakes chain, kilometres of wildflower meadows, access to ascend Lone Goat and Snow Camp Mountain (a fine lunch spot enjoyed by both groups) is afforded by Skyline east of Mowich. Both groups also tackled a portion of the Hozameen Ridge trail 900 m west of Mowich (a spectacular ridge walk on a clear day). Reunited in Manning a dip in the river, some grub at the East Gate Diner, some refreshments from the General Store and cards at the Hamptons rejuvenated our band.
Of note – still some water trickling at Mowich, but I was glad I packed in all my water. Bugs (particularly flies) are better than last year in Manning, but were enough of a nuisance (as proved by my swollen eyelid bite). The snow is ALL gone and flower season should hit full bloom in the next few weeks.
The Silverdaisy trail is in fine shape, though easy to get side tracked and wander off in the beautiful meadows up top (pay attention and look sharp for the flagging). Silverdaisy makes you work for it, but the payoff of alpine meadows with a panorama of mountain views made for a very satisfied group. Mental or GPS breadcrumbs are useful for descent from the summit (easy to loose the route you travelled in on with little or no meadow footbed). The through and through hike may have shaved some time but navigation to Cayuse took effort and required GPS (lots of roads, lots of choices, little or no distinguishment on screen between active roads and now tree choked roads). An enjoyable adventure, but best (and more scenic) to just return via Sumallo Grove.
Summary: Nine enthusiastic hikers – check! Two cars + two phenomenally dedicated drivers – check! Two through and through hikes completed- check! Several frosty shakes and slices of pie consumed. Nine content hikers.
PS It’s a small world – 4 out of 8 groups on Skyline knew each other by 0–1 degree of separation, 2 groups of which were fellow Wanderungers.”
Cam paddling the Bowron Lakes solo:
“An unforeseen situation and my paddle partner for the trip had to back out. Not one to back out of challenge or an adventure I went solo with words of encouragement. I think those words where you’re crazy, nuts or you’re going to get eaten by a bear.
My GPS recorded 130 km round trip and 4 days 6 hours and hardest section was the last dock, ramp going to the campground. Shake my fist in the air at BC parks engineering department!
Forecast was for a sun all week long!! YES! Orientation was a 9 AM then the portage to Kibbee Lake a large group of people 24-26 but only 7 where ready to go. Was first out of the gate and that was the last I saw of the crowds. The next 4.5 days of blazing sunshine 😉 was pure tranquilly. The many warnings about full campgrounds by early evening where never found.”
Heather in Manning Park:
“Seven enthusiastic people set out on Friday afternoon, bound for a weekend in Manning Park. We all rode up in Chris’s amazing transformer van – everything from hot water to cook stoves to coolers to a bed was in there (although passengers slept in tents.) We camped just east of Manning Park, in a free and beautiful spot on the edge of the Similkameen River. Saturday had one person off fishing for the day, one person solo canoeing, and five of us heading up Skyline trail to Snow Camp mountain, in beautiful sunshine and completely blue skies. We had a few bizarre encounters with zombie-like people that were doing an ultra-marathon (100 km or 100 miles, depending on who you talked to!), including helping one woman down the trail to meet up with her companions. These people had run and walked for 30 hours or so, across the mountains and all night long, and we all agreed that it was pretty sad to see them so zoned out in such a beautiful environment. The vistas opened up to stunning alpine meadows, dramatic drops way down to the lakes, beautiful distant mountains, and an incredible variety of wildflowers. We took a total of 6.5 hours to hike this trail – hot but very rewarding, and the swim in Lightning Lake after was very refreshing. That evening five people drove back to the lake for a full-moon paddle, while two of us slept well! Sunday involved a lazy morning, and then canoeing and swimming in Lightning Lake again – enjoying the refreshing water and relaxing atmosphere. The evening was topped off by a good supper at the Manning Park Pub, and then a drive back to Vancouver in the evening sun. And enjoyable weekend had by all… Thanks to Chris for organizing, driving, and supplying the amazing extra equipment and comfort of the van.”
Jennifer exploring the area around Russet Lake:
“Peter, Laura, Sandi, Michael and Jen all got an alpine start to backpack in to Russet Lake for three days. Via the valley we made our way up Cowboy Pass and down to the lake to set up camp. After a second lunch, we headed up Fissile Peak. Fissile was challenging. There were lots of loose crumbly rocks covered with gravel and quite a long stretch requiring good handholds (of which there were none) giving us a run for our money. We did make it to the top, using the first route described in the Scrambles Guide. The group slipped-n-slid back down the way we came, with a few bruises and scrapes (that shale is full of fossils but also quite sharp!) but no major mishaps. I would recommend helmets for sure (easy to knock rocks down, and we had some narrow misses). Day two followed a crystal clear night of stars. Clouds and some sun made our scramble up Whirlwind peak and on to Overlord Mountain more dramatic. Scampering onto the ridge was the only challenging part of Whirlwind which was otherwise a lot of up with spectacular views of Garibaldi and the Tantalus Range. Now that we’ve done it, we would recommend climbing up the middle moraine to get to the ridge. From Whirlwind we took the northern ridge up Refuse Peak to Overlord. The panorama of peaks and ice-fields filled our eyes and took our breath away. With a couple of exposed areas requiring some careful hand and foot moves, the route up was straight-forward. Back the same way over Whirlwind to avoid glacier travel brought us safely (albeit hungry) back to Russet Lake. We woke up frost-covered in the morning but the sun soon warmed us up (it’s toque, long john, and down vest weather already). Third day was a mellow sunny meander over the Musical Bumps to the lovely gondola which whisked us back to our cars. Potluck dinners and lots of laughs made an unbelievable setting that much better – thanks for a great trip!”
Chris on the Slim-Nichols Divide:
“Well, that was an adventure! The usual route to the Chilcoten is over the Hurley but it was closed due to the Coppertop and Camel’s Back fires 2 days before we were to leave. The obvious alternate route is through Lillooet but the McLean fire was within 1km of town limits with evacuation imminent. So Cara, Lucy and I chose to drive over the Highline from D’arcy to Seton Portage and then over Mission Mountain to Highway 40 (this was just before the Seton, Spider Creek and Hell Creek fires were started / discovered). The Highline was not bad. The hill out of D’arcy might be too steep for some 2wd but there was a Ford Focus parked halfway along. The crux is a steepish hill with some loose rock about halfway along – timid drivers need not apply. Mission Mountain is even better – 2wd friendly but you have to like switchbacks (a lot). From Pemberton to Highway 40 was 2 h 10 min for us. Then it was on to Slim Creek road – probably in better shape than last year (2wd with some rough / rutted spots). The long drive and high water levels on Slim Creek changed our plans for day 1 and we decided to camp just before the meadows and cross over early on day 2. We managed to find the trail up the southern branch of Slim but lost it again. We camped in the high alpine near Slim Lakes and could see a couple of smoke plumes in the far east. The wind changed direction during the next night and the whole of day 3 – crossing over Sorcerer ridge and into the Nichols drainage – was smoky. Rain moved in that evening and was on and off until late morning of the next day when we climbed Glacierview Peak. Day 5 was mostly clear as we climbed into the top of the Nichols drainage, touched the edge of Griswold, dropped into Gun Valley and climbed back out over Wolverine Pass to Leckie Lake. Day 6 was very hazy with smoke as we returned to the car. In general, the area was very dry with most non-glacier-fed creeks having dried up and ponds at low levels. Despite some signs of large mammals, we saw only marmots and smaller animals. The real adventure started when we drove back to Gold Bridge to find all access out of the community closed. We ate supper at the hotel and found a campground that wasn’t closed for the night. The next day we hit up the gas station, library, store and hotel looking for information on whether there would be a scheduled convoy leaving for Lillooet (there had been one on the previous day). While we waited, we ran into a couple members of a Land Cruiser club returning from a 2-week expedition into the Chilcotin (we had seen them on our previous trip from a distant vantage point on Battlement Ridge as they climbed the old mining roads on Pallisade Bluff). These guys are serious offroaders with stories of crossing 1 metre deep creeks and carrying spare axles! While we were at the hotel, word came that the Hurley was reopening and there was a mad dash for vehicles and we were off up the Hurley before conditions changed again. We finally arrived in Vancouver 20 hours later than planned.”
Michelle on the Heather Trail to Nicomen Lake:
“Day 1: 1 French, 1 Israeli, 1 Swiss, 2 Polish, 1 Chinese/Californian, 2 BC Girls, 199km 3hrs driving, 1hr to car shuttle, 36 quarters to park, 13.5km 5hrs Blackwall to Kicking Horse. Side shows: motorcycle dog in his own coach with hush puppy ears a-flapping behind his own windshield (missing sunglasses); Bruno’s purse; new forest fire across a valley from us with helicopters water bombing and planes surveying; startled skinny dippers caught by the bottom of the First Brother; watching 10 cloves of garlic being lovingly minced for a 3 course dinner. Day 2: 9-km 4-hour side trip to the Three Brothers, then 9 km / 5 hours from Kicking Horse to Nicomen Lake. Side shows: GQ modelling at the summit of the Brothers (working the pole); sleeping bag rolling down the hill; Polish Kisiel ectoplasm dessert. Day 3: 17- km 6-8hrs Nicomen Lake to Cayuse Flats. Side shows: morning opera and water football. Casualties: 1 elephantiasis knee, 1 twisted ankle. Summary: Super well maintained/marked trails, beautiful flowers/meadows, splendid views, awesome lakeside camp (with amaaazing swimming and fishing), lots of laughs, lots of food, lots of French, lots of amoré, fabulous people, fabulous trip.”
Su-Laine at Marriott Meadows:
“Definitely a place to go back to… when it’s less buggy. On the other hand, if you like to jump into pristine mountain lakes on hot summer days, it would be hard to beat this place. Some of us swam in five lakes over three days, and we passed by several more.
Forest fires were on everyone’s mind but we made a conscious decision to go anyway, as we felt that this area would not be very dry, conducive to spreading fire, or particularly remote. A thunderstorm arrived quite suddenly in the hot afternoon, and we spent some time hunkered down in the forest to wait for it to pass. We sat on our packs while Michal explained how to perform CPR in case someone got struck by lightning, and I shared the previous night’s reading about how to survive a forest fire (Google it). The bugs were an inferno at the start of the trail and became merely horrible by the time we arrived at the Wendy Thompson Memorial Hut. We’d brought tents, but there was only one other nice couple at the hut, and lots of room.
On Sunday morning we spent the better part of an hour trying to find a trail to the ridge and summit. Several trails leave the hut but seem to vanish, and I don’t know to what extent we should have been on-trail higher up. We eventually found our way to an upper lake using a route resembling what’s in Matt Gunn’s Scrambles book. That was just the start of a stunning array of small lakes in the Marriott Basin, set amongst meadows, boulder fields, and 360 degree views of surrounding peaks. Scrambling was not too difficult, but helmets would have been a good idea. We spent many happy hours exploring, and returned to the hut very tired.
The next day we packed up, cleaned the hut, and swam in yet another lake down the trail before returning to the Marriott-Rohr junction and climbing up the muddy and buggy-as-hell trail to beautiful Rohr Lake. In total we saw only 7 other people in 3 days, and when we returned to Pemberton we heard that access to Duffey Lake Road was being restricted because of the fire situation. I haven’t seen anything on the web to confirm this, but if you’re planning a trip up there soon, a few phone calls to check would be a good idea.”
Michelle at Russet Lake / Musical Bumps:
“And then we made a run for it…. Our merry band of one Scotsman, one Frenchman, one German, one Japanese, one Newfoundlander and two BC girls learned why in the alpine our winter sleeping bags and tarps were not so stupid in 38-degree August weather after all. On trail we heard the storm coming and hustled. Not one minute after arriving and getting the tents up it arrived. In shock EVERYONE at Russet made a run for the hut as marble sized hail pounded down so thick it became white out conditions. Those too far away dove into already occupied/complete stranger’s tents. We waited in disbelief until it subsided. A fellow cabin mate opened the door only to slam it shut again and exclaim ‘It’s coming again!’. Before, we wondered if the tents blew away- now we wondered about the hut as the wind drove waves of hail so hard that the roof surely dented and we began to take on water. Then, it stopped just like that. The aftermath – bivys drowning in small lakes, some flooded-out tents. The lightning show continued and the bizzare red sky turned the landscape into Mars. Made for an evening of great entertainment! Complete with a lady in red (dress) included! Absolutely spectacular scenery, spectacular fields of flowers, spectacular company and not one but two free gondola rides made this a spectacular overnight trip. The laughter, roaring storm and the music of the Musical Bumps (who’s winds did indeed play for us) made this truly a feast for the eyes AND ears.”
Chris on the Big Creek-Powell Divide:
“Early interest in this trip fizzled so it was down to just Cara and me again. We covered a lot of ground so the salient points only are:
– the Hurley was rough – lots of washboarding, potholes and rocks – but still 2wd.
– June’s Tyaughton Lake fire didn’t affect the drivability of the Tyaughton road but you do drive thru a bit of burnt forest.
– The first km after the Tyaughton Creek FS campsite will give 2wd drivers a taste of the worst of the coming 20km or so – minor rutting and a waterbar going uphill.
– 2wd drivers should stop in an old logged area just after an overgrown road to the east and then one doubling back to the west (sorry, no odometer reading). Immediately after this, the forest gets close and the rutting gets worse. You will be facing a 2hr road walk before the trail start.
– We made it to road end in my Suzuki Jimny.
– Mosquitoes were not too bad (i.e. not horrible) but horseflies came by the bushel-load (killed 5 with one slap) in the alpine areas to the west of Big Creek and stayed with us from about 9am – 7pm each day.
– The Big Creek crossing was around mid-thigh (shorts will get wet); Tosh was about knee-height near Big Creek; an un-named creek about 2/3 up Tosh was mid-thigh and almost dangerously fast. Other creek crossings were lower but plentiful.
– Saw little evidence of bears and with most big mammals sheltering from the sun during the day, only a handful of deer, some bighorn sheep and one moose. Wolf prints were plentiful but didn’t see or hear any.
– Snow was at late-August levels.
– Encountered only one guide-led horse trip and then a couple of the same wranglers a couple days later. No bikers or hikers.
– When going up Little Paradise, the fork for Little Graveyard Pass is difficult to find – look for a couple new flags to your right when you encounter an old moose antler on the ground.”
Dana on Galiano Island:
“Five of us caught the morning ferry on a Friday to Galiano. The weather was overcast but the sun came out once we arrived and it quickly became very warm. Though the ride to the campground is only 10 km, the roads are windy and hilly, and with weighed-down bikes and the hot sun it felt much longer. On Saturday, two of us rented kayaks and explored Montague Harbour and the other three biked about 10 km up-island to hike Bodega Ridge. Highlights of this easy hike with desert-like terrain were watching eagles soar beneath (and above) us, and the views of Salt Spring Island and beyond. We also enjoyed the thunder and lightning storm that night (after a quick swim), though instead of huddling in tents we took advantage of the free Hummingbird Pub shuttle bus to indulge in drinks and some incredible pie. Sunday’s ride back to the ferry took in a different route, encompassing the cemetary (which has a nice view of Active Pass and sunning sea lions). To sum: Biking Galiano is not for the faint of heart. There are many hills (both short and steep and long and gradual) and the pavement is cracked and broken in many spots. Still, it is rewarding and a beautiful place to explore over a weekend.”