June 17, 2023
~ submitted by Mary Hof
I led (with Ray Billings help) a hike for 8 Island Mountain Ramblers that took us 9 hours and 15 minutes. 1100m elevation gain and 22km. This hike was a Ridge Rambler hike. The weather was good, the wind kept us cool.
We started at Charters Creek in Sooke. We hiked the South and North Larkspur peaks, then headed to Grass Lake but cut through to the Harrison Trail. I did make everyone aware of Melissa who went missing there in November, never to be found. She was on my mind a lot.
After Grass Lake we made our way to Mary’s Peak (I am the Mary lol) it was great to be there again. I think it was 20 years ago when I first went there, not much of a trail or anything and I felt peace. Somehow someone got it on a map and the next thing I knew it was Mary’s Peak. I hope people love this place as much as I do.
Next it was a good climb up to Puzzle Peak where we could look below to Shields Lake and Sooke Mountain. Then we kept climbing to North and South Dumbbell where you could see Photo Ridge, Crabapple Lake and all the way to Saltspring Island.
From there we made our way down, to make the climb up Empress Mountain which is the highest Peak in the Victoria and Sooke areas. It was windy up there and we sang Happy Birthday to Ray whose birthday was June 18th.
Just as we were approaching Empress, we saw the fire break out on the USA side near the Olympic Mountains, in no time at all there was lots of smoke. After a lunch break on Empress, we came down and headed up Screen Hill. They named it Screen Hill as when we were coming to Empress you could see this big hill blocking the view of Empress so it is called Screen Hill.
My legs were feeling it by this point, we then went past Burt Lake and made a detour to Gorgeous George lookout. 7 hours into the hike we were back at Grass Lake, where 2 people (Syvia and Colleen) decided to go for a swim, my goodness they were brave.
We then made our way up Monument Mountain. On Monument we had a good break from there it was down, down, down. Reaching our vehicle at 5:15, 9.25 hours since we started. A great hike today, thanks to those that came.