~ submitted by John Robertson
July 1, 2018
Three of us met at the usual North Nanaimo gathering point at 7am, and quickly got underway for parts north. We made good time to Mount Washington. We met 2 more adventurers at the Raven Lodge. Boots were tightened, packs were donned, and we were off.
The trip through Paradise meadows was predictably lovely. Trails were wet and muddy, with no trace of snow, until Lake Helen Mackenzie.
The weather was calm, coolish, and cloudy; ideal for the march up to the col between Mount Brooks and Mount Elma. We took a short snack-break at the ranger cabin, pestered by whiskey-jacks, who were in turn pestered by their own recently fledged young. We then set out on the trail towards Circlet Lake.
From that point, we encountered more substantial snow patches on the trail. The snow itself was solid, but not icy, so spikes could remain stowed away. Blue sky and sunshine played with us as we continued another couple kilometers to where we planned to leave the established trail to find our way up the mountain.
When we were at the top of the rise of land before the descent to Circlet, we took a sharp right uphill. Immediately, we found a vestige of a trail that seemed to be going in our direction, so…. When we hit the band of bush at the base of the mountain, we found a discreetly flagged route through, which led us to the final slope. While I’m not crazy about seeing a load of flagging tape when out and about, I must admit that the flagging we found made our journey much easier.
By the time we got to the “summit”, cloud was again rolling in. Although we had beautiful views of the lakes below, and Cruikshank canyon to the south, many of the peaks we had hoped to see were obscured. Brooks and Elma were the only ones that deigned to be seen, and they teased us with rolling patches of sunshine.
The top of Strata is a broad ridge. We lunched with a view of Moat Lake, to the southwest, then wandered to the north end. Again, we saw sunshine – somewhere else! Campbell River appeared to be enjoying some clear weather. As the clouds in our area got cloudier, we decided it was time to retreat.
We headed back down to the park trails, and chose the Whiskey Meadows- Battleship lake route back. Despite lowering skies and a bit of rain, the return trip was beautiful, although towards the end, conversation was turning to other things, namely cheeseburgers.
All agreed that the outing was a success, but all agreed that it needed a redo, when weather is clearer. We still hope to take in some spectacular views.