Mount Manuel Quimper, Thunderbird Mountain, Ragged Mountain return on the flowline

On January 29, 2022, we finally caught a break. After what seemed like weeks of rain, it relented for a Saturday of hiking through the Sooke bumps. I relied heavily on the beta provided by a friend who frequents the area in planning the trip. I trusted he would provide us with some good routes to highlight some of the best features. He didn’t disappoint!

The route would take us about 18 km and gain about 1000 metres of elevation. I hoped it would take us about seven hours of hiking, but I’m always concerned about going too fast for the group. To slow me down, I strapped on my heaviest hiking boots and added a pound of fishing weight to each boot, and carried a 35-pound backpack. It did the trick! We moved at a constant pace but took many short breaks throughout the day.

We started from Harbourview Road and used one of the south ridges to gain Manuel Quimper. Though the lower sections were mainly old logging grade, we did find some aesthetic boot-track in the higher elevations. The hike up was short, but we took a good long break for a morning snack, admired the view, and explored the fire watch station.

We doubled back and headed east through some disused trails that crisscrossed some more popular routes. We all but lost the way at one point because the dense salal lay across our path. Though I wouldn’t call it bushwacking by my usual standards, it took an effort to stay on route. Eventually, we went through the regrowing forest to gain Thunderbird Mountain by a lovely gully.

We enjoyed our time on the summit, but I was getting nervous looking out at the weather. Our forecast was for a cloudy day with rain beginning around 4 PM. Looking at the clouds, I worried we’d get caught out.

Ragged was our third peak of the day, and though it didn’t offer the greatest of views, I basked in the glory of its novelty. I rarely get to visit three “new to me” peaks in a day. Little did I know that we hadn’t even reached the best part of the day!

Having summited our third bump of the day, we descended the east by following the obvious boot-track down to the valley floor. We met with an old logging grade and followed that south through Camp Thunderbird. As we exited the camp, we joined up with an even older stretch of what can only barely be called road still. We worked our way through sections of deadfall and reached a watercourse that bisected our route. Above us, we spotted the flow-line: a feature I’ve often admired through photos.

We crossed the water feature, climbed the hill to gain the top of the flow-line, and followed it back to the end of our hike. The moss and fern-covered concrete led us through some very dense bush. It was exciting to walk, more than one might think. As much as I like the wilderness, I’m always intrigued by the ruins that we leave behind. They call to mind the past and lead me to wonder.

We arrived back at the parking lot having walked 6 hours and 45 minutes. Even better, the rain only started about thirty minutes after we started the drive home. What a great day with the club. I’m grateful for all those that braved a trip with me and made for a memorable day.

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