Category Archives: Multi-day

Scudamore-Van Horlick Divide 18/07/09

Chris on the Scudamore-Van Horlick divide:
“Cara, Dean, Dorothy and I tackled the Scudamore – Van Horlick divide for 3 days. The Van Horlick road is in decent 2wd condition – some minor potholing so you can’t fly along but nothing bad. The Morris spur is in rougher shape with minor rutting and the alders will challenge your paint job. The Morris East spur is overgrown while the Morris West is in great condition. Unfortunately, you can’t drive either because the bridge at 11km from the Duffey has been pulled (leaving some logs but no bridge deck) and you have to walk the 4 km to road end. At the very end of the road, a faint trail starts down towards the end of the Morris East road but quickly disappears. Just continue down in the same direction through the slash, cross the stream at the bottom (there’s a log about 100m upstream from where you hit it) and climb the slash to the alder-choked east road. A sparsely-flagged and sometimes faint trail leaves the end of this road towards the valley end and can be followed to the col. From here, we climbed the south side of the east shoulder to meadows where we camped. The mosquitos have moved beyond epic to positively biblical. On the middle day, we sidehilled to the south and climbed to the North Stein ridge just south of Elf and came back over that peak. The going is a bit scrambly near the top. We dropped down into another saddle and back onto a great ridge with good views. We returned along the benches on the east of the ridge (very little snow in an area that historically has a fair amount even into August), through the saddle and back to camp. On the last day, we ventured into the North Stein meadows and returned to the west road by crossing the creek higher up and bushwhacking to try to avoid elevation loss but you are forced to follow the creek down anyway.”

Northern Stein 27/06/09

Chris in the Northern part of the Stein Valley:
“Bob, Cara, Do, Ian and Michal joined me on a trip to the northern Stein. We managed to drive most of the way up the Texas Creek road (off the Westside road south of Lillooet). It appears that this road is usually blocked just past the 4 km mark from April 15 – June 30 each year to give grizzlies a break from humans but it was open this year. The road surface is rough but 2wd-able until a patch of loose rocks on a hill just past the 9-km marker where we needed 4wd. Up until around 18 km, there are no waterbars. A dandelion-filled landing to the right at around 19 km makes a good parking spot – the bars get deeper, trickier and more frequent over the last 2-3 km of the road. From the road end, we hiked over the Texas – Siwhe divide and camped in the meadows at 2100 m (you will encounter cows here and in Cattle Valley). We had below-freezing temperatures every night and it was frequently windy. From Gordon White’s Stein book (recently republished – the trail descriptions are pretty accurate though road info is dated), we completed hikes 23, 24, 26, 27 and part of 28. We also completed a couple of other routes, discovered some lost trails and generally explored the whole area during some long and ambitious dayhikes. We only encountered appreciable snow on the eastern flank of the peak to the east of Brimful Lake. There’s currently a sow grizzly with 2 cubs resident in Cattle Valley.”

North Coast Trail 27/06/09

Su-Laine on the North Coast and Cape Scott trails:
“Magnificent location, no crowds, more adventure than we’d hoped for. After a 7 pm ferry to Nanaimo, our group of five got on a 10 am water taxi in Port Hardy, and by noon on Saturday were on the white sand beach in Shuttleworth Bight. A quick walk took us to Irony Creek, where we set up camp and dropped the weight from our packs, then spent the afternoon walking on the beach eastward and back.

From Sunday to Tuesday, we backpacked to Laura Creek (11.8 km), Nissen Bight (7.5 km), and Guise Bay (10 km). The trail alternates between beach and forest sections, with one cable car across a river. The mud was deep in places but the trail was easy to moderate in difficulty. The more difficult parts of the NCT, which we didn’t do on this trip, are at the east end. The beaches are teeming with tide-pool life and colourful seaweeds. After setting up camp at Guise Bay, three of us took an afternoon walk to the Cape Scott lighthouse where we were greeted with enthusiasm, Freezies, and a canteen of junk food and cold pop (bring your wallet!).

On Wednesday morning, we packed up for our 10 am water taxi pickup, feeling a little over-privileged for taking this luxury and for our amazingly good luck on the trip: near-perfect weather, and having had three campsites and their huge gorgeous beaches all to ourselves. Our mood changed when the boat didn’t arrive that morning, or afternoon, or evening. It took a frustrating day to make contact with the water taxi operator via borrowed satellite phone, and to find that rough seas to the east were making a pickup impossible that day and probably the next as well. Our best option was to walk 18 km to the Cape Scott trailhead where we could meet an arranged ride out. We looked at the maps, waited for scattered group members to return, and made a quick decision to try to hike to a campsite 8.5 km down the trail that evening. By then it was 8 pm. We covered the distance in 2 hours and set up tents in the last rays of sunlight. On Thursday morning, we did the rest of the hike out in 3.5 hours and made it back to Port Hardy in time for showers, a quick meal, and a sprint to the 9:35 pm ferry home.

I’d planned our original itinerary as a way to cram 4 full days in prime scenery into just 5 days. But if I were to do it over again I would have arranged for a vehicle or bus ride at the trailhead, with a hike out to it, instead of a boat pickup which is much more weather-dependent. The original Cape Scott trail has been improved a lot recently and we found it relatively easy. If you do arrange for a boat pickup, work out a contingency plan with the operator before you leave, carry a satellite phone (not just a VHF radio), and bring enough extra food for what could be a long wait. But however you do it, the North Coast Trail is an incredibly beautiful place, and I feel lucky to have seen it with a great group of people. It is also, for now, a remote place. We didn’t see another person until the third evening of the trip.

Things we saw: sea otters – colourful characters at the Cape Scott lighthouse – a beaver – Craig throwing oatmeal at John – black bears – sunlight on the beach at 10:45 pm.”

Deb on the beach

Spruce Lake Area 20/06/09

Chris in the Spruce Lake area:
“Cara, Mike and Ribeka joined me on a trip of mixed weather and great hiking in the Spruce Lake area of the Southern Chilcotins. The Hurley Road was about average – bumpy but still 2wd-able. The Slim Creek Road was in better shape even after the work done to put in fire breaks due to the Tyaughton Lake fire (almost out). There’s a couple new spurs and the road forms part of the main fire break. We parked at Jewel Creek bridge and saw only one group of horse wranglers the whole time we were there (usually you have to hop off the trail to let bike trains and horse trains by). The trail was dry and dusty. The snow pack was 20% below record lows and melting fast – almost a month ahead of schedule. For day trips, we climbed up to Sheba Ridge and the ridge south of Windy Pass. Saw many deer but only one black bear. The only signs of grizzlies were a couple of the biggest tracks I’ve ever seen.”

Cairn and Blustry Mtns 13/06/09

Chris on Cairn and Blustry Mountains:
“It was just Cara and I on an initial exploration of Cairn the Blustry Mountains in the Clear Range. The McGillivray FSR is immediately north of the easily-missed unsigned McGillivray Creek crossing on Hwy 12. The sign is hidden by the cattle gate (unlocked). We followed the directions in the Lillooet hiking guide book (turn left at the 3-km mark, follow the main road to the road end at 9.4 km) encountering 2 other gates along the way. The surface is 2wd but there is some minor rutting and lots of rocks. And there were cows on the road on the way back. The trail is easier to follow up than coming back down (many cow trails leading everywhere). Water is important while hiking in this area and McGillivray Creek seems reliable for at least 2/3 of its length – you lose the better part of the flow near a horse camp. It took us 4 hours to hike to a camp site just beyond the McGillivray headwaters at 2100 m. Water here probably dries up later in June. On the middle day, 8 hours was just enough to traverse Blustry (sometimes on a strong horse trail) and reach the top of Cairn (2300 m) – barely time to sample the vast possibilities of the area. The ridge just to the south of Blustry looks nasty but there is a safe route weaving between the ridge teeth (avoidable by dropping down into Pocock Creek headwaters). By July, this area will be filled with cows and the water will be gone.”

West Coast Trail 09/06/09

Heather on the West Coast Trail:
“Ribeka K, John A, Bob M, and Heather W did a glorious 9 day backpacking trip along the classic West Coast Trail of Vancouver Island from June 9-17. No wonder this hike is rated as #1 in the world – it is as stunningly gorgeous and amazing as everyone says. Our adventure included hiking pebble beaches, wandering around sandstone benches & cliffs, climbing up and down ladders on slopes in the forest, slipping along muddy trails and broken boardwalks, ambling on sandy beaches, negotiating cable cars, swinging on suspension bridges, and passing lighthouses, caves, arches, and rocky headlands. We marvelled at the many waterfalls, tide pools, whale sightings (four days!), sea stacks, sea otters, martins, bald eagles, sea lions, windswept trees and wildflowers. The trip included great campfires every night, heavy packs, jumping into amazing swimming holes, fantastic company, stupid amounts of food, and intense debates over jelly bean flavours. We were very lucky to have no rain for 8 days, and the fact that it hadn’t rained for almost a month resulted in mud only being up to our ankles instead of over our knees! Other highlights included the milkshakes & burgers in Bamfield, having the local water taxi drop us on a deserted beach for our last night camping, and AMAZING whale watching on the boat that took us back along our whole hiking route to Port Renfrew. If you go, do it before June 15 or after Sept 15, and don’t forget the marshmallows!”

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Skwaha Lake 29/05/09

Chris at Skwaha Lake:
“Snow-free meadows? With ridgetop views? At 1800 m? In May?!? You betcha! Andrew, Cara and Giri joined me on an exploration of the Skwaha Lake area. We approached from the north via 2wd drivable logging roads up Laluwissin Creek and past Onion and Turnip Lakes. There are no trails (except very old cattle routes) so we did a fair share of bushwhacking (some of it was pretty exhausting – hopping from log to log without touching the ground for 50 m at a stretch). The meadows were full of Avalanche Lilies and Shootingstar. Lower down, the Balsamroot was starting to bloom and we found many Chocolate Lilies. And a couple of bears. On the last day, we headed north of the access road and hiked up an unnamed ridge topping out at 2000 m with good views across the Fraser to the mountains of the Stein.”

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Cornwall Hills 16/05/09

Chris in the Cornwall Hills:
“Allison, Cara and I ventured into the backcountry west of Ashcroft for a weekend of bushwhacking and bears. Though Hat Creek Road is marked as 4wd on the Backroads Map book, it turned out to be one of the best gravel roads I’ve driven on for at least 11.5 km and the last farm house. After this point, it was still pretty good to where we parked another 2 km along at the fork to Cornwall Hills PP (after this point, both roads are 4wd). We hiked up a draw to a set of aspen meadows that took us almost all the way to Bedard Lake (elevation 1400 m and snow-free). The area is well used by cows starting in June but right now it’s left to the bears (saw 2 black ones and heard about one very large cinnamon or grizzly) and elk. On the middle day, Cara and I bushwhacked to some hillside meadows to the north through undulating pine-kill forest (read: lots of deadfall, few lines of sight and pockets of snow). At 1700 m, there was 2+ feet of soft snow in the trees between meadows making travel slow. The meadows gave good views into Hat Creek Valley, to the Clear and Scarped Ranges and beyond. Excellent navigation skills and tools are required for this area.”

Lower Stein Valley 10/04/09

Chris in the Lower Stein Valley:
“Cara, Michele, Norico, Ribeka and I spent 3 days of mixed weather in the Lower Stein valley. Since it’s one of the only early-season overnight destinations within a reasonable drive of Vancouver, it was pretty busy – almost as busy as the May long weekend is traditionally. Teepee camp was packed and both Earl’s and Cable Car had 8-10 tents. We spend two nights at Cable Car and dayhiked to Ponderosa. The trail was snow- and mud- free and there were no blowdowns to speak of. The river was about 4-8 feet below spring levels and river-side snow and ice made water access tricky in places. Nights were cold but above freezing and the days were warm when the sun came out. There’s a dead deer in the river across from Kline’s Cabin so treat your water. We were back at the cars half an hour before the hard rain started and ate Chinese food in Hope while discussing the merits of curry-flavoured bubble bath.”

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Salt Spring Island 10/04/09

Su-Laine cycling on Salt Spring Island:
“Three things to know about this trip: 1) New and stupid ticketing procedures can make it difficult or impossible for foot passengers to make a quick ferry transfer at Swartz Bay, so allow up to two extra hours in each direction. 2) The Easter long weekend is cold and wet for bicycle camping. This is a time of year for bed and breakfast travel, we now think. If you camp in this weather, bring warm clothes and try to persuade some of the superb campfire engineers from this group to join you. Ruckle Park had very few other campers, however one of the neighbouring groups thought their site was some kind of party venue. The noise from these idiots made for some bad nights’ sleep for some of us. 3) Having the chance to hike up Mount Maxwell on a clear spring day makes it all worthwhile. We took about 4.5 hours to do a highly satisfying loop from sea level. No snow, no mud, just hours of views and beautiful forest.”

First campfire of 2009