~ submitted by Bil Derby
September 30, 2018
This trip received so much interest initially that a second trip running the opposite direction was scheduled and Julianna W graciously agreed to lead the second trip, although she was very quick to call shotgun on the downhill version – somehow predicting the benefit of finishing the day with lakes, rivers and rapids along the trail rather than starting the day against the flow. By the morning of the trip, partly due to normal attrition and partly (mostly) due to an “inclement forecast” the overall group size shrunk to 9 and we all started from Raven Lodge for a generally downhill ramble to Wood Mountain.
Seven of us headed up island to meet Julianna and Mike at the Wood Mountain parking for a car shuffle before all of us headed on to the Paradise Meadows. Stepping off at 09:15 in misty conditions we soon left the boardwalks and worked our way to Battleship Lake for the first photo op of the day on the little dock in weather that foreshadowed the balance of the day. A little further along we stopped to inspect the new yurt at Croteau Lake and chat up a couple of backpackers who were putting its dryness to good purpose. At the trail junction with the traverse trail itself a quick break was had while rain gear was adjusted (and in one case put on for the first time) and we turned onto the traverse itself to be greeted by upwards of waist height vegetation and water cascading down our legs. The meadows were well into their fall colour display and the scenery was wonderful despite the increasingly wet conditions. Lunch was enjoyed on the bluffs overlooking Johnston Lake.
Further on as we worked our way around McKenzie Meadows, those of us who went to Indianhead Mtn last weekend were stunned to see what was a precarious log crossing with water to the bottom of the logs then was this weekend an unexplainably dry crossing despite others being in full spate.
As the day progressed, the weather continued to deteriorate and the rain intensified almost exactly on schedule with the forecast. The trip rating was changed en route from “C2P2” to “H2O2”. Conversation and witty exchanges quieted as hiker retreated into their own thoughts of the weather, the distance remaining, punishing the trip leader, etc.
Below the junction for Mt Becher the over trail condition worsened and worsened in terms of water flow along the trail and size of puddles culminating in Karen’s assertion that “water hazards may exist” and Mike longing out loud for his kayak and rope throw bag. No one, despite best efforts, ended the day with dry feet.
Back at the vehicles at the Wood Mountain lot at 17:45 for a quick costume change and then off to Paradise Meadows to retrieve cars and we were on our way home.
Nowhere in its length does this trail disappoint. The meadows in fall colour, a myriad of views of lakes and ponds and streams, terrain that is varied and rewarding, and the ever-changing flora along the trail length all combine to create a complete wilderness experience. This hike could be repeated many, many times and would reward the hiker every single time… now, we just need to do it on a day with sun and blue sky.
All along the trail there is clear and fresh evidence of the herculean effort applied by a small handful of CDMC members who maintain the trail on behalf of BC Parks to keep the trail passable – thank you so much.
Bil D, Julianna W, Mike H, Carol D, Judy M, Karen A, Mo G, Wendy L, Seonok B
Elevation gain: 790m (starting elevation 1110m, ending elevation 725m)
Total time: 8h37m