–submitted by Dean Beaulac
Steamboat Mtn falls inside the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks, A donation was made to the Tribal Park Guardians on the way through.
Up at stupid o’clock by all, had us all together and on foot for 6:30 am. An eager group of 6, we set out on what was planned to be a full day out. How quickly the gentle start of an easy spur trail to distract you fades away, leading to progressively tighter and tighter trail, until the forest consumes you completely and spits you out the other side! Up old creek beds, steep forest, around wasp nests, under logs, over logs, repeat and repeat again and eventually you’ll find yourself at a nice unnamed lake maybe halfway up. A chance to ditch some pack weight, refill water and have a quick snack.
Beyond the lake is more steep forest terrain before entering into and up creekbeds and eventually into a dry drainage flanked on our left by gorgeous limestone walls. Sharp flutes caught the sun as we navigated our way through the boulder field that would be our route. Once out in the open, the travel would seem predictable, although offset by the surprising amount of rockfall we kicked down. We initially opted out of packing helmets but seemed to agree that at least with a group as big as ours…a helmet would’ve been a good idea. Eventually after navigating the scree, boulders, and sparse forest that we would attempt to use as safe travel corridors….we found ourselves on the summit!!! A well-earned checkmark backed up by a well-earned dessert.
After signing the registry, lunch and photos, we started our descent knowing we still had a long trek ahead of us. Like all good adventures, sometimes things don’t go as planned and I had the fortune of being spared things going much worse, and learning how tight those margins for error can really be. Our group had split early on in our descent and Jaime and I had chose to climb down the way I’d come up and the other 4 checked out what ended up being a safer route to the side. Well, a few steps in a large slab of limestone I was on shifted, dropping me off of it. The terrain was steep enough that the slab didn’t just move, it started sliding and bouncing down beside us, settling on an enormous rock beside us. I ended up with a couple of cuts from the unforgiving limestone, but other than that, we were unscathed. A hand, foot, or our torsos were fair game if it shifted again. Definitely took my “sketchiest” memory to a new level.
A quick regroup, some first aid attempts and we were on our way again. The trail definitely had that never-ending feel, but it could’ve just been the 4+ hours of bushes thrashing against my leg, or sharp sticks poking me awake as I went. A checkmark well earned by all. Pretty sure this was one of the first club trips I’ve been on this year, but gives ya an idea of some of the cool things that you’d see offered up for trips once a member. I always see lots of posts of people looking for company or hiking buddies, and being a member of the Ramblers has led to all kinds of friendships and put me on top of peaks I didn’t even know existed. It’s been an easy way to meet and get out with like-minded people!
As always, be prepared! Leave a trip plan and ensure you have the 10 essentials and are prepared for an unexpected night out. As mentioned at the top of my trip report, the club had made a donation to the Tribal Park Guardians and I encourage you to do the same. Thanks for the awesome day Matthew Lettington !!