The Forbidden Plateau Traverse hike was an all women’s hike, with the Alpine Club of Vancouver Island and the Island Mountain Ramblers. We had a lot of interest and a number of cancellations at the last minute so there were only 8 people on the hike.
On Saturday, July 20th five hikers set off on their first trip to Cape Scott. After meeting up at the North Coast Trail Backpackers Hostel in Port Hardy, we went for dinner and checked out the local Filomi Festival.
Sunday morning, we arrived at the trailhead, eager to get started after 1 hr 45 min on the logging road. We followed the well used trail past the Eric Lake campsite, over the new bridge at Fisherman River, and past the junction to Nels Bight before arriving at Nissen Bight 5 hours later, our home for the next two nights. After setting up camp, we headed to the water source at the opposite end of the beach. No whales were spotted, but we did see a large black bear happily grazing on the grasses above the beach. We arrived back at camp ready to relax and enjoy dinner, and were treated to a beautiful sunset that evening.
With trip planning spanning several months, complete with no shortage of shenanigans with the BC Parks reservation system, and the usual last-minute evolution of attendees, the trip date arrived. As an added bonus feature, we had an up to date weather forecast that suggested a “wee bit” of rain and some snow accumulations below the summit elevation, which cast some doubt on the potential for a summit as well as on the state of mind of those hardy hikers who stuck to the plan.
When I was new to mountaineering, I was often intimidated when I listened to experienced mountaineers talk. They always seemed to know where they were and could easily identify the peaks they could see all around them, when to me it just looked like a sea of peaks. Further, they would talk about the names of places and trails as though they were commonplace. Features like the Augerpoint Traverse, and names like Mount Albert-Edward, were just two of the many names everyone (other than me) seemed to know. It was overwhelming! Although I was interested in learning about the places, names, and locations, I couldn’t imagine a time when I’d be able to identify them all.
Fast forward eight years, and today I can identify the shapes of many peaks amongst the sea. A big part of that is visiting a wide range of places, though I still struggle when I visit a new area. On top of being able to identify places, I’ve also met many of my hiking goals. Since I started hiking, I’ve hiked many of the most common access points to Strathcona Park, and even managed to hike one of those routes I heard about long ago: the Augerpoint Traverse (sometimes referred to as the Mount Washington to Buttle Lake Traverse).
Horizontal Distance: 47.8 km
Average Speed: 0.5 km/h
Starting Elevation: 291 m
Maximum Elevation: 2092 m
Total Elevation Gain: 3064 m
My fifth trip on the Nootka Island Trail off the west coast of Vancouver Island didn’t disappoint. In fact, I might have enjoyed it more than ever. It was more crowded than before–we saw several other groups of hikers, one even bigger than our group of nine. But, still not nearly as busy as other coastal hikes such as Cape Scott or the West Coast Trail, due in large part to the remoteness, accessible only by water taxi or float plane.
As the organizer of our trip, I opted for the water taxi transport return from Tahsis. It’s a lot cheaper than flying (especially when we had nine people in our group), and scenic, although on the day we set out, it was drizzling and rough, so not as enjoyable as when I last did it two years ago. With the boat ride option we had an extra three km to walk, too, at low tide across picturesque mudflats, making the trail about 40 km long altogether.
The trail is not on protected land, and is only sporadically maintained by volunteers, although in places you’d never know it, with huge fallen trees to clamber over and salal to stagger through. For me, though, this is part of the attraction–the ruggedness of it. And the variety of the trail is arguably unsurpassed — from lush old growth rainforest to swampy headlands, sandy beaches to boulder fields, the wonders never cease.
Thanks to my fellow hikers for making this a most enjoyable excursion!
I struggle to find a balance between work, play, and family. When it comes to my annual vacation, I pack in as much playtime as I can, and this means I often leave my family at home while I’m off on an adventure. With my busy schedule, sometimes I’m unpacking one backpack by putting gear straight into a different one. This is exactly what happened on my August 13-15 backpacking trip to Mount Phillips. On August 10th, I hiked off the Augerpoint Traverse; with the next trip only a few days away, I didn’t have time to put anything away before getting ready for my family backpacking trip to Arnica Lake and Mount Phillips in Strathcona Park.
We had an ideal forecast, and if not for the haze of smoke in the air from forest fires, it would have been perfect conditions. Fortunately, the smoke didn’t hinder our breathing – it only obscured some of the otherwise amazing views.
In addition to my wife and two children, I led a group of five Island Mountain Ramblers on a trip that I offered as an easy backpacking trip. The trip was split into three days, and the lion’s share of the distance and half of the elevation was planned along the well-manicured trail to Arnica Lake, where we set up a basecamp for two nights. Of course, the second half of the trip, out to Mount Phillips, is where the suffering was found.
Susann and I and seven lucky women (or is that lucky me and seven women?!) journeyed over to Flores Island from Tofino on the May long weekend. And my seventh time on this wonderful trail didn’t disappoint!