Chris M. at Illal Creek:
“Two of us went into the Illal Creek area for part of the long weekend. Colleen and I left late Sunday night and find a wonderful place to camp just off the Coquihalla Highway, shortly before the Sowaqua Creek exit. A short drive the next day took us to the access turnoff and I was able to drive all the way up the logging road to within 30 seconds of the trailhead. About 10 minutes in to the hike we used a log to cross the creek then we followed a nice trail up through the forest. Within an hour we crossed the scree field and were out in the open. Much of the north-facing slope was still covered in a little snow so we decided to head over to a dry ridge north of Illal Creek. After setting up camp and resting for a bit we followed an old wonderful little trail all the way around and then up Illal Peak. Great close views of Jim Kelly and Coquihalla Mountains. The sunset view of Needle and Yak Peaks from our camp spot was beautiful. On Monday we attacked the surrounding peaks in a mad blur of activity! Well actually it was nothing like that. We lazed around, packed up late-morning. Headed towards Spiral Peak. That started to look steep so we found small flower fields to distract us. Then picked a route across the bowl to join up with the trail down. Back at the car, we used the chilly creek to cool off in, sat in lawn chairs, drank cold beer and ate strawberry-rhubarb pie. I think the drive home was less than 3 hours, including a small stop in Hope.”
Chris M. on Iago:
“Three of us headed to the Coquihalla area on a cold & cloudy Saturday. We decided on Iago, which shares the same access route as Zupjok. The correct split to take after an hour is less obvious but with a little meandering the col is fairly simple to find. Then it was an hour of uphill to the summit. Sylvia chose a great campsite for us, which was 1 minute from the top, and out of the wind. She and Colleen shared a tent while I attempted an igloo. The blocks were good but with daylight fading and poor construction I realized there would be no roof. Luckily I had brought a siltarp and wrapped it over most of the top. Sylvia shared a neat trick for tying down rope in snow – yogurt lids! The clouds
finally cleared around 5 in the morning and we enjoyed seeing all over the surrounding mountains. It took us 2 hours to get back to the car.”
Chris M. on Zupjok Ridge:
“Due to North Shore snow conditions we switched destinations. Left Burnaby at 5:30 and drove up the Coquihalla so we could snowshoe to Zupjok Ridge. The powder was insane. We would sink around 2 feet on most steps. Thankfully there was a well-defined channel down the middle of the road. The pace was good and the company fun. Through discussions we all ended up with Three Musketeers names – Daniel became Aramis, Danielle was Milady de Winter, and I was D’Artagnan. There was one section where we had to break trail uphill. Super tough but we all strangely enjoyed it. The summit was a little chilly but a lot warmer than we had feared. Despite the thin clouds overhead we stayed up there for an hour. Our return down was pure pleasure. Deep soft thick fresh POWDER! Smiles all over the place. Having been on Seymour the day before, Milady had the best line, “no crust, no crowds”. Obviously the happy pendulum swung too far in our favour so we ended losing the car keys in Hope to equal things out. Luckily someone was willing to rescue us – THANK YOU LORA!!!”
Chris M. on Needle Peak:
“A very enjoyable night on a mountain. Susanna, Glen, Jenn joined me to sleep at 1,947 m, along the summit ridge of Needle. Though a bit hazy, the views were good and the weather warm. Snow starts after about 20 minutes along the trail. There are some rocky outcroppings along the first ridge but mostly snow covered. The summit ridge and both scrambles are completely bare. With overnight bags on, there was one awkward spot on the first scramble, but we worked together as a group and sailed through. Animals stole my liner socks during the night – we couldn’t decide whether the thieves were birds or marmots.”
Irina on Yak Peak:
“The forecast looked quite discouraging for the weekend, but hoping for the famed “Coquihalla high pressure vortex”, Evgeny did a Wanderung callout. Joined by myself and one other brave soul, off we went into the never ending drizzle.
It was chilly above the tree line where we were greeted by falling snow. Better than rain, but our gloves were soaking wet and hands – freezing! September: time to start carrying ski gloves…
With visibility on the poorer side, we poked around looking for ways on or around the snow fields, eventually reaching the summit. No surprise that we no longer felt inclined to continue along the ridge to Nak, let alone Thar. For one, we couldn’t see either; for the other, the perspective of a wet snowy bushwhack down did not appeal. A unanimous decision was to postpone lunch until back in the warmth of the vehicle. So we hurried down to below the snow line, but not before adding more layers and taking a few summit pictures!
Driving through Chilliwack around 2:15pm, we encountered bright sunny skies. Wrong time, wrong place for a hiking choice this weekend :(. Yak is a very pleasant short scramble though! See Irina’s report and pictures on Livetrails.”
Chris M. on Needle Peak:
“No one was able to join my Gamuza idea. So it was easy for me to change my mind and go up Needle Peak instead. The westbound side of the Zupkios pullout is closed anyway. Snow starts on the trail within the first 15 minutes. But footing was easy, I wore trail runners for the entire trip. Once you start the first scramble it is only on rock the rest of the way. I camped on the final ridge, only minutes from the summit, beside a pretty little tarn. The scrambling is fairly simple, when staying on route! The weather was good with just enough wind so there was NO bugs.”
Tim on Yak Peak:
“Wanderungers Tim and Meghan hiked Yak Peak on Sunday Oct 17th. Crystal clear day. Started hiking at 9:30am. Reached the summit at 11:30am (without rushing). I would rate this a very easy scramble. No snow on the trail (which is south facing) but a light dusting was found at the summit. All north facing slopes had a light dusting. We forgot our cameras, so no pictures. A lady’s watch (in good working order) was found near the summit. Contact Tim Gage (see my callout for contact info) or firstname.lastname@example.org if you know the owner.”
Erez on Yak Peak:
“Susanne, Rich, Hiromi, Adriana and I woke up early on Sunday and drove on the Coquihalla to the base of Yak peak. The trailhead was pretty easy to find using the directions and way points posted on Club Tread. It was also very well marked all the way to the peak. There was almost no snow at the top. The snowfield was almost completely gone, and you could easily bypass it – no need for any special equipment. It was a great trip with a great company. Thanks a lot to Rich and Adriana for driving.”
Steve on Needle Peak:
“Of the hikes outlined in “103 Hikes” I think Needle Peak broke my Top 10. On a perfect day, I went with 4 well-matched Wanderung companions to a Coquihalla trail I thought was outside of my dayhike driving range and expected to get back late. The drive time really was not that bad because none of it was not highway (no logging road). We had dinner on the road and still made it home by 8 pm. More importantly it was well worth the effort.
Unlike many trails where 90% of the journey is a slog for a 10% payoff, this trail is 30% nice forest, and the other 70% is scenic ridge walking (with a few short scrambles thrown in). Every direction from Needle Peak is photo worthy, and though the “scrambles” did make my sphincter pucker for a few tense moments, they really were not that bad and the exposure was minimal. On this date, no bugs, and no snow except a few small patches. We encountered a large hiking group that included well know Wanderunger Grace, and in the parking lot met with Larry who was doing Yak peak who joined us for dinner at the Wildcat.
The only thing I can compare this hike with is one of my favourites: the Rim Trail at Cathedral Lakes. I give it a solid 2 thumbs up. Add this one to your list of trips this Summer (or even do it now as many other great destination are still under snow).”
Dan on Guanaco Peak:
“Robert K., Candace, Evgeny, Irina, Chris M., Malin and I headed out amongst clouds and showers on Hwy 1 to the Coquihalla. When we arrived at the Zopkios rest area, the sun came out and we were off to tackle a new snowshoe route to Guanaco Peak.
With 30 cm of fresh snow on top of previous spring accumulations, paceline trail-breaking was employed heading up the Zupjok-Zopkios Ridge saddle. We had great fun sliding into the Coldwater Creek basin, then commencing the long slog through ravines and thick forestations to gain the Vicuna-Guanaco col.
Terrain assessments were continuous and we zigzagged to avoid deep powdery slopes (too taxing to go up) and an avalanche runout zone just before the col. It was nearly seven hours into the hike when Irina, Evgeny and Chris Morley summited.
All the peaks around us have the names of South American ungulates (Zupjok, Llama, Alpaca, Vicuna, Guanaco), and are sometimes referred to as the Llamoid Group. The clean, massive granitic slabs glistening in the sun were breathtaking – majestic even. We took many splendid photos; lingered and drank in the dazzling vista all around us; and refuelled for the long journey back. Five hours later, we were back in our car, exhausted but decidedly happy.
You can see my and Irina’s reports and photos on Livetrails.com”