Jeremy on Mt MacFarlane:
“Four brave souls ventured out towards Chilliwack Saturday September 3rd to climb Mount MacFarlane. The drive took to the trail head took less than two hours, and was completely paved, except for the last 200 metres. Easy with 2WD. The parking lot was pretty full upon arrival, with both day hikers and overnighters parked there. 1770 metres is a lot to ascend, and the trail gets to the point and starts ascending within the first 150 metres or so of the hike. It took us three hours to get to the first lake, with few stops to rest. About one hour in, there is a sharp right turn in the trail – if you are looking down, it is easy to miss! It’s up and up and up, through lush forest, across one boulder field and crossing one creek. It’s definitely a slog. The trail was mostly dry, with a little bit of muddy sections near the lake.
The first lake is beautiful, with Mount MacFarlane staring at you from the south end of the lake, and a waterfall cascading from the upper lake, down the face of the ridge visible from the lake’s edge. There are a few flat spots for camping at the north end of the lake, which is where we camped, but there were better spots at the south end of the lake, a further 10 minutes down the trail, and then a steep descent to the lake edge.
After passing flasks around the fire for a while, we all slept well, tired from hiking, even though we had only hiked 3 hours. Sunday morning, it was just a one hour hike up to the second lake. The trail is steep in sections, but not difficult technically. It was great to hike without all our camping gear! The upper lake was still 70% frozen. It was another 45 minutes up the snow free ridge to the top of the mountain – this portion involved a tiny bit of scrambling but it was mostly hiking. At the top, the views were incredible. We could even see Mt. Rainier to the south. We hiked back down to the first lake quickly, ate lunch, packed up, swam, and headed back to the car. It’s even more of a slog down – it’s relentless down and down and down. Hiking poles definitely helped! On our way down, we passed some hikers coming up who warned us that 4 out of the 6 cars parked overnight had been broken into. Fortunately, we were one of the two cars that remained intact. The drive back was quick with no traffic. Epsom salts baths were in order to soothe sore legs from the descent.”
Dan R. on Wiliams Ridge:
“Ronald and I were the only ones on the trail until the end of the day. From centre of Vancouver, less than a 2-hour drive both ways. I measured 32 km on my odometer to the trailhead from the turn onto the Chilliwack Lake road. Hike took 3 hours each way, not including breaks. Ridge is about halfway. Trail is less steep as you gain altitude. A few trees down, nothing major. Mild brush growing in, but it got me pretty wet (rained overnight). No snow or mud. No sign of bears. Lots of bugs, except at knoll. Trail peters out at first knoll. Recommend going at least to the 2nd/3rd treeless knoll. If you see the unmarked intersection on the steep part, go left. Unmarked intersection as you gain ridge, go right. Unmarked intersection further along ridge, go left.”
Hurrian on Williams Ridge:
“Three of us made it to Williams Ridge. 103 Hikes is a little incorrect about the trailhead. It caused us to look for the trailhead for two hours before the start of the hike. The start is around 30 km down Chilliwack Lake Road rather than the 34.5 it claims. Look for a sign that says “Wms Ridge Trail” that is visible from the road. It gets steep very quickly, ascending 1000 metres in about 3 km or so. After that you hit a ridge that has some stunning views of local mountains. Surprisingly there was very little snow on the trail. Only a bit in the final sections. Definitely recommended hike as long as it’s clear enough for a view. The descent is not as rough on the knees as it could be since much of the top section of the trail is padded with tree mulch.”
Andrew R. on Williams Peak:
“I was joined by Rebecca and Valerie on a gorgeous Friday for a hike up to Williams Peak overlooking the Chilliwack Valley. We got an early start and arrived at the well-marked trailhead at 9:30. The trail climbs steeply up to the top of Williams Ridge and then it is a easy (but long) walk along the treed ridge to a rocky knoll where we got out first clear view of the peak itself. We stopped at the knoll for a bit of lunch and to mull over the best route through the basin towards the peak. Luckily I had gotten advice not to descend into the basin but to continue up to the second knoll where we eventually spotted a cairn that told us we were heading in the right direction. Carefully following cairns and flagging, we traversed the side-slope on the left (north) side of the basin. This saved us having to lose and regain a lot of elevation – a huge help! (This route doesn’t seem to match with the route shown in Matt Gunn’s scrambles book. He seems to drop down into the basin.) Along the way Rebecca’s sharp eye spotted a momma and baby black bear moving quickly up the basin below us. It was her first bear sighting and an exciting spotting. We continued across the boulder field at the base of the peak (loudly, in case the bears were still in the area) and gained a rocky ramp that took us around to the scrambling gully on the south side of the peak. There seem to be a few options here, but all the routes seemed to converge on the main gully, which is STEEP. Some fun scrambling up this section. We reached the summit and enjoyed a good 45 minutes or so with fantastic views in all directions before reluctantly making our way down. We carefully retraced our route to find the flagging and the route around the side of the basin. At this point you are very glad not to have to descend into and climb back out of the basin! After gaining the ridge and having a last look back at the impressive peak we’d just descended from, it was a long dusty march back through the trees to the car. A long and tiring day, but the good company, fun scrambling, and great summit views made it totally worthwhile.”
Carolyne at Flora Lake:
“Eight intrepid Wanderungers set off to do the Flora Lake Loop. We were a well matched group and talked for most of the almost 10 hour hike! This hike has diverse vegetation and gorgeous views of surrounding peaks and the Chilliwack Valley. An interesting ascent through hemlock forest gave way to a traverse around an alpine bowl complete with wildflowers and then up over a wide pass. We decided to do a short detour to Flora Peak with 6 of our 8 going to the top for a look around. Then we started to descend to Flora Lake. This was the start of many descents! We kept remarking that it didn’t feel like we’d gained so much elevation, but we had: 1160 m. The trail continued traversing the west slope above the lake, weaving among the Douglas fir. Then came the first of many, many rock slide traverses. I had a moment of inattention, fell… and we ended up with an unplanned break as I got my knee bandaged up. No permanent damage done and on we went eventually descending to Post Creek but not before we could see Greendrop Lake peaking through the trees. At Lindeman Lake two of our crew braved the cold water for short dips. We couldn’t see them go in, but we sure could heard them! After what felt like a pleasant stroll to the other end of the lake, we descended again to the trail head. The trail is well marked and maintained throughout, there’s just one tricky bit at Post Creek – don’t go over the log bridge with signs on it saying ‘Greendrop Lake’ and ‘Trans Canada path’, take the path going to the left. Dinner at the Jolly Miller completed our day with a return to Vancouver about 11pm. Everyone agreed it had been a great day.”
Ahmad on Mt Mercer:
“Our approach was via Foley Creek FSR. It is a logging road but the surface is generally hard with few loose surface sections and postholes. We parked at the intersection of Thurston FSR. Our altitude was 300 m. We discovered later that Thurston FSR was quite drivable for another 3 km especially if the car has high clearance. We also discovered that this FSR goes all the way to the Mercer ridge at 1530 m. The logging road gets less distinct in the last 2 km and it is also open to really nice views to McGuire, Baker, Border, Macfarlane, and Slesse. We opted against bushwhacking and leaving the logging road for the snow conditions and slide risk. It was a hot day and the area had received about 1 m of snow quite recently.
We summitted after about 4:30 hours. The views were excellent. The snow was also king-quality. We stayed for a long while but I had some concerns about the increasing heat and risk of slides so we didn’t stay that long. Total trip took 8:20 hours. I find the peak is underrated and think it is better than the other side of the ridge Elk-Thurston. This trip could be also done with a combination of hiking and biking.
This area seems to be versatile and used by different groups. We met dirt bikers and bear hunters (!) on our way back at lower elevation.
Pictures & GPS track on Live Trails.”
Rob M. on Mt Laughington:
“A late start (late TR as well) and following a “prospector” through a brief 4×4 adventure after the Foley Creek FSR, placed five of us into a parking lot filled with BCMC vehicles. The BCMC skiers went down the lower Airplane Creek road while we switchbacked in snowshoes to the upper road. We stopped every twenty minutes to chat up the tango line of peaks to the north – the usual suspects – Lady, Knight, Baby Munday, Stewart, Still and Welch. Dean was the only person amongst us having spent time on Munday and Stewart, but that’s not the reason why he was our designated canary on the snowbridges. The snow pack was heavy, soft and deep so it took us a couple of hours to cover 4 km. We caught up with the skiers’ tracks at this point and soon ran into all 12 BCMC skiers skinning up an elegant line to the peak. A considerable amount of BCMC/Wanderung shared DNA led to a long exchange and catching up leaving both groups a little short of their objectives. We ended up turning back at the sub-summit. It was a fairweather day here, but one of us had to be back in Vancouver by 5:30 pm where the rain was coming down in sheets.”
Ben V. on Elk Mountain:
“Four hikers set out at 10:00 in a medium density fog on yet another unseasonably warm winter day. The trail up to the 1200 m mark was clear without a trace of snow. The last portion to the ridge top was spotted with frozen snow in the forest and slushy snow in the open areas. The ridge top was similar, with snow depth gradually increasing as we progressed. We stopped for lunch at 12:45 on an open bump with a large cairn. There we were rewarded with a few views when the clouds broke briefly and revealed the surrounding peaks that had been hidden all day. We went a bit further to the next highest point to enjoy some of the nice deep snow we were finally upon, and then turned back. We faced some very slippery slopes on way down that added a bit of final adventure to our day.”
Michelle at Mt Rexford and Slesse Memorial:
“Chilliwack rarely disappoints – and these two trails exceeded expectations by miles. Chilliwack truly is full of hidden surprises and we were rewarded with larger than life rugged sheer peaks, pocket glaciers and miles of views. The perfect pair – these two trails are literally just a minute down the road from one another and you CAN skip the 4wd (at this time/in dry season this relatively short FSR trek is 2wd to or close to the Slesse Memorial trailhead (thus making BOTH accessible by 2wd with a little paitience – at least in mid summer/early fall). Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park was the perfect overnight accommodation (just down the road) but Riverside Recreation Area would be even better when open during season if not backpacking. It was neat to be able to see where you were going the next day/where you were the previous day (and gave true appreciation for the steep Rex trail hugging the sheer wall beneith Illusion). Slesse Memorial includes a lovely trail, nice gradual climb, a ridge walk, amazing fall colours, jaw dropping setting, plenty of view points and stunning panoramic views from the Propeller Cairn. Rex at 30% average gradient (much more in spots) is not for everyone. But for those up to a non-stop climb, the first half of the trail (after the old road) was a pleasant surprise – a rapid climb but a well formed lovely forest trail. The second half boasted incredible views that just didn’t quit, but it contends with very steep and often loose/unstable terrain. Early starts recommended for both no matter what season – you’ll want the time to fully explore and enjoy the end destinations (which are only the fantabulous enviable beginnings for the climbers).”
Peter A. on Williams Peak:
“Hurrian, Siegfried, Nikita, Alex, Lana, Carol, Dave, Thomas and I successfully climbed the relentlessly steep Williams Ridge in 30 degree heat, braving wasp stings and enjoying a bounty of huckleberries and blueberries. Approx 1000 m elevation gain straight up: like the Grind, but higher and without steps. After another hour of hiking along the beautiful, rolling forested ridge, we ascended “the first knoll” for lunch, which sits across a rocky basin from Williams Peak. The trail from the parking lot to this point was clearly marked and well-maintained. Beyond were various routes for ascending the peak.
After lunch, six of us set off to summit the classically-shaped summit horn: the heat and blisters took their toll on three of our party. We followed Gunn’s route, beginning by descending steeply a lot of vertical into the large basin below the mountain to avoid cliffs. From there it was a long, hot ascending traverse across a number of boulder fields and ridges to reach the base of “the ramp”. Though steep and dusty, the trail up the ramp was clear and contained few loose rocks, providing easy access up and over the south ridge of the peak. A short traverse dropped us into a large, prominent gully that led straight up to the summit. Take time to note where you enter the gulley so you can easily find your exit and route back to the south ridge on your descent. The gully is very steep, but mostly grassy with lots of foot-holds. Since it was hot and dry, it was just a long grunt up: I wouldn’t want to do this up or down when it’s wet and slippery. It took us 1.5 hours to summit from the first knoll.
Views on top were hazy but spectacular. The Peak is surprisingly broad, although the drop-offs are super steep. On our descent, on top of the south ridge, poised to start our way down the ramp, we found a series of cairns leading off to the right. We followed these, which took us on a gentler descending traverse, keeping us higher above the basin and many (but not all) of the boulder fields. Cairns led us just below the cliffs of the second knoll, until we intersected with our original route directly below the first knoll, but much higher above the basin. Our return to the first knoll via this route took a little over 1 hour.
The long, descent to the parking lot was happily broken up by sessions of berry picking and eating. Round trip time was approx. 9 hours. The hike was physically demanding (no water sources from the ridge onwards), but the scrambling was technically easy. A great group and an outstanding hike.”