~ submitted by Bil Derby

August 19, 2018

Seems to be a trend but 06:00 hrs on 19 August found five hikers loitering about the north Nanaimo Starbucks……mostly because they are the only place open at that time of day that is not Tim Hortons.  A quick stop in Whiskey Creek to gather the other three people and onward we went, arriving at the trail head right about 08:20. The smoke haze was, at this point in the day, still relatively high and thin.

08:50 and we were off up the trail through the old clear cut and into the timber where temperatures were cooler. Following the trail as it wound its way upward we caught occasional glimpses through the trees of a descending smoke ceiling. A quick rest break at the first rock band about halfway to Cobalt Lake (where would could see the haze thickening and starting to obscure Triple Peak across the valley, and then onward and upwards.

10:00 and we are at the lake with Brandon doing a quick change followed by a plunge into the lake. He was the only taker on the swimming.

Continuing upward we arrived at the 5040 Hut for a quick inspection and regrouping of the hikers before pushing uphill to the little saddle where we “enjoyed” views of Nahmint Mountain in the haze which was now settling in with some authority. Carrying on upwards we traversed below the old ridge crest route and followed a newly and heavily booted path through the loose scree and up the gully before enjoying the nice ridge-line and arriving at the summit at 12:30-ish.

On 17 August 2017 I placed a new summit register with the first entries being the IMR group with me.

Today we fought to find a blank space big enough to enter our names in the same register which is now crammed full. The register I brought down in 2017 took almost seven years to fill, the latest one filled in just 367 days.

On our way down, we lingered about the Hut to say hello and pass on compliments and thanks to the volunteers before taking a long stop, and another swim for Brandon, at Cobalt. The Hut looks awesome and the quality of construction is very high.  Hopefully the work will be complete this season. I for one am looking forward to a stay up there in winter.

Back at the truck at 16:00 and home to Nanaimo by 19:00 after a mandatory ice cream stop in Whiskey Creek.  Quote of the day: “I don’t think I have ever inhaled a double ice cream cone so fast”.

The trail itself is in very good condition although it is showing the expected signs of increased traffic from both the hut volunteers and the traffic associated with an easier access and the popularity/exposure resulting from the Hut campaign.

For those that have not been up to the 5040 trail head in the past year, the road is in quite good condition as a result of the improvements (that really means cash) invested by the Alpine Club of Canada – Vancouver Island Section to make the road passable for the delivery of materials for the Hut project. There are a couple of rough spots where 4WD/AWD and a bit more ground clearance are needed……along with a willingness to index the side of the truck a wee bit into the bushy bits to ensure the wheel path is where it needs to be.  I would strongly recommend people not try this road is a 2WD vehicle – the result will be a very quick deterioration of the road and a waste of the ACC-VI’s not insignificant investment.

For more info on the hut project check out:
ACCVI – Huts
or
Facebook – ACCVI – Huts

Thanks to Karen A, Carol D, Jenn McA, Linda F, Chai M, Shayna B and Brandon S for sharing the day.

Trip Data:
7 km, more or less
1,020 meters elevation gain
7 hours, more or less, what with the swims, the loafing, and the visit to the hut.

Photo Credits: Carol, Jenn, and Bil