–submitted by LeaderJamai Schile
Prior to heading out on the trail we met up a few days in advance to chat about gear, packing tips and travel arrangements. Rick was very helpful in showing us how to shave off unnecessary weight in our packs and meal planning. Turn’s out that Rick is quite the backcountry camp chef and he passed on loads of tips on preparing dehydrated meals as well as how to make pizza on the trail!
Arriving at the trailhead (0.0 km) as scheduled we were eager to get on the trail. After slipping on our hiking boots and strapping on our packs, we heading off on the well marked trail that parallels the majestic Elk River. We took our time to allow ourselves to adjust to hiking with a full pack and stopped for a leisurely lunch in the shade by the river before pushing onto Camp One (6.4 km). Settling on Camp One as our base camp, we soon got to test out our wet weather gear, including Rick’s handy ultra light tarp, which became our camp kitchen and general social area. Lucky, the rain broke long enough for us to set up our tents, but the showers returned after dinner and throughout the night.
Waking to a new day, we woke to a damp yet promising day for a hike to our destination – Landslide Lake. Fortified by a hearty breakfast we set off on the trail that took us over the new zig-zag bridge that spans Butterwort Creek. From here the trail meanders with a slight, but steady elevation gain. Along the trail, we passed a few lovely waterfalls and an avalanche shoot before arriving at Elk Falls. The Falls are the last and largest cascade before the Lake, so we pushed on and upwards over an assortment of rocky slabs until we arrived at the crest (10.8 km). Looking north, we were rewarded by the view of the emerald coloured waters of Landslide Lake with Mt. Colonel Foster (2,130 m) in the distance. On arrival, the lingering fog that hung from the valley walls mostly obscured the Colonel. As we ate lunch we watched the fog lift up and out of the valley to reveal the natural rock dam holding back Berg Lake and the towering peaks beyond. The view was definitely worth the wait!
On our return to base camp we met numerous other hikers just arriving and while we enjoyed the conversations we shared with them, we were also glad to have arrived a day earlier to experience the peaceful rhythm of the river, the mountains and even the rain…all to ourselves.
On the last day, we broke camp knowing our packs and our spirits were a wee bit lighter. We said our farewells to the Colonel and retraced our tracj back down the path with plans to enjoy a celebratory lunch in Campbell River. We made good time on our return trek and set out on the highway.
Shortly after leaving the parking lot we noticed that a vehicle had veered off of the road and was resting on its side in the ditch. A few people had already stopped to offer assistance and we did, too. The majority of us had first-aid training so we were able to assist tending to minor abrasions while another traveler went to contact Emergency Services in Gold River. It could have been much worse, but I was proud of the quick thinking and responsiveness of our group as well as others at the scene.
Arriving at Campbell River we were joined by Rick’s wife, Karen, for lunch. The conversation flowed as we heard about their many family backpacking adventures and shared a few of our own.
On reflection, Landslide Lake remains one of my favorite backcountry destinations and I was glad to have shared it with such a great group of hikers.