Steve v. at Phelix Creek:
“Sometimes the weatherman does get it right. A few people (understandably) only wanting to see the ridges around The Brian Waddington hut in decent weather decided to postpone due to poor reports. However at the last minute the reports changed to say only rain in the morning and late after noon of Thursday, and in late morning Friday. Both were bang on. We had a leisurely hike in to the cabin in mild temperatures and slight overcast, and then we did a side trip up a slope near Gandalf mountain and got caught in a thunderstorm 5 minutes from the cabin where we ate dinner warm and inside. In the morning a dry hike out until the last 10 min before the truck.
The Brian Waddington hut sits at the end of Long Lake surrounded by peaks named after notable Lord of the Rings characters. Wildflowers were out and the whole place is very picturesque. Moreover, with the possible exception of Elfin Shelter, this is one of the nicest huts I’ve ever been in, and we had it all to ourselves. The VOC takes very good care of it, at $10 it was a bargain to stay warm and dry. Like any Pemberton hike, this one was worth doing as an overnighter or more if you want to explore those ridges.
The road in is the topic of discussion on many forums. We made it no problem in a new Rav 4 (7.5 inch clearance). Basically anything that calls itself more than a regular car and has AWD would have no problems except the need to pick over a few easy water bars. The foliage on the side of the road is minimal and careful driving can avoid any scratching. Big thanks to Christine for providing her car not knowing that until we got there!”
Ben at the Brian Waddington Hut:
“Despite the dramatic disappearance of the sun this weekend, our group of five met up and headed north with hopes of finding clearer skies. The road to Birkenhead Lake was clear and in good shape all the way to the lake. We turned off at the branch immediately before the gate to the campground and parked nearby, facing 6.6 km of logging road to walk to the trailhead. Along the way we passed up a VOC group heading up with skis on their backs. At the end of the road we had lunch and let the skiers take the lead. The trail was short and very well marked as it winds up the forest along Phelix Creek. It was however challenging in the soft melting snow with heavy packs. Eventually we crested a small rise to see Long Lake and the hut awaiting us at the far side. The weather had been grey all day and it didn’t look like the situation was any more promising up here. The hut deserves its good reputation. The evening was a relaxing mix of cooking, reading selections from the library, and enjoying the skiers’ renditions of old Bob Dylan songs on the guitar.
The next morning the snow was falling and we left the hut to stretch our legs. We had no real expectation of reaching any summits, but we decided to make for Gandalf-Peregrine col and see what things looked like. After a couple of hours we found ourselves at the col having the turn around time discussion. We had plenty of extra time so we decided to invest another hour and take it a step at a time. We began to switch back up the end of the ridge leading to Mount Gandalf. We couldn’t see much but we knew that up there somewhere the white wizard was waiting. Progress was steady thanks to Brad’s trail breaking effort, and before we knew it we found ourselves standing below huge boulders. With less than 100m to gain, we knew we must be close. From here Pavel lead us on a true showshoe scramble as we moved up bare slabs, boulders, and the snow that filled the gaps between, not bothering to stop and remove the snowshoes. One final block split the group into three as we picked our preferred routes over or around the rock. After converging and counting heads, we moved on. Then out of the mist appeared the great unmistakable flake standing like the final stone on some great summit cairn. We were there! Congratulations all around! A huge thanks to Brad, Pavel, Rob, and Darcy for their contributions to this very memorable trip.”
Chris at Phelix Creek:
“Andrew, Cara, Gloria, Lucy, Midori and Ribeka joined me on a rather wet trip up to the Brian Waddington hut in Phelix Creek. The Blackwater Road was in good 2wd condition with minor potholes and a small amount of slick mud. The Phelix Creek Road is rough 2wd for a couple hundred metres before it becomes fully 4wd at the remains of a rock slide – park 2wd vehicles at a sign warning about mudding about 200 m up the road. We all piled into Andrew’s Jeep and drove to the end of the road (almost as fun as the Lone Goat trip). The trail is well marked with reflective orange metal tags and snow patches started early (1200 m). It took almost 3 hrs to hike / slog / snowshoe to the hut (only 4 km). There was up to 2-3 feet of snow in places but the lake was slushy and not yet frozen (1700 m). Temperatures never dropped below freezing even at night and it rained / drizzled almost continuously. The cabin is outfitted with only a small (size of a large pot) portable white gas heater which did little but fill the hut with fumes so it was soon extinguished. The hut was clean and, because the surrounding hills often have high avalanche danger, provided with much reading material (check out the outhouse log book) and many sets of playing cards. By morning about 6″ of snow had melted off and several people headed up the valley for a bit of exploring before we headed back to the trailhead. The hugely variable freezing level makes this time of year tricky to go hiking.”