Wet. It was wet. It was very wet. This doesn’t even come close to describing how wet we were by the end of the day. It was the kind of day where any effort or equipment used to contravene the water would result in failure; so, we left our raingear in our backpacks with our dry clothes in case we needed them to get warm—a smart decision. It was the kind of day where I saw water well out of the cuff of Clarke’s boot when he stepped down onto a rock, and oozing out of the tongue of Phil’s boot when he flexed his toes.
Total Distance: 9 km
Starting Elevation: 225 m
Maximum Elevation: 1258 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1140 m
Total Time: 9 h 15 m
Seems to be a trend but 06:00 hrs on 19 August found five hikers loitering about the north Nanaimo Starbucks……mostly because they are the only place open at that time of day that is not Tim Hortons. A quick stop in Whiskey Creek to gather the other three people and onward we went, arriving at the trail head right about 08:20. The smoke haze was, at this point in the day, still relatively high and thin.
On June 23rd & 24th 2018, I was one of five Island Mountain Ramblers who summitted Nine Peaks, located on the southern boundary of Strathcona Park. It earns its name from the nine distinct peaks that rise out of the Beauty Glacier, forming a line that runs along a northwest axis. Our trip was planned as an annual birthday getaway – one of Rick and Phil’s long-standing traditions – and was a reprisal of a failed daytrip to Nine Peaks, on the same weekend in 2017. Having been beaten back on the first attempt, we came with the intention of completing the trip as an overnighter.
Our route originated at the Bedwell Lake trailhead, and by the time we were back at the car we had covered 38 kilometres and more than 3500 metres of elevation gain. The trip involves route-finding challenges that change with the season, terrain difficulties that may require scrambling, and the need for self-arrest skills. On top of the physicality of the route, it’s also mentally challenging. There are many sections where you gain elevation, lose it, and then regain it. It includes either two summits of Big Interior Mountain, an airy traverse from the saddle or, at least, an airy traverse around the base of the summit massif.
Total Distance: 34 km
Starting Elevation: 515 m
Maximum Elevation: 1849 m
Elevation Gain: 3068 m
Following a recce of the access roads to the Moriarty trail-head and a lot of discussion back and forth about the likelihood of gaining access to the Moriarty trail-head it was decided to switch locations and hike the Judges route on Arrowsmith.
Seven intrepid hikers met at Starbucks at 0630 to carpool and fuel up on caffeine before heading off to the mountains. Arriving on schedule at the Judges trail-head at 0800 we quickly geared up and wandered off up the mountain in what appeared to be improving weather……….more on that later.
A beautiful May weekend for a climb up Mt Arrowsmith and the timing for the Ramblers club day trip couldn’t have been better. We all met at 8am at Creekmore Coffee just off the Alberni Highway and carpooled for the trip up the mountain. The 6 of us split between the two vehicles and headed on our way. The first destination was the end of the spur road for Judges route which would be where we dropped a vehicle for the descent route. We all hopped into one truck and then headed back down to the lower spur on pass main to the end of that road where the Lost Gully trailhead is.
One of the reasons I’m drawn to travelling in Vancouver Island’s wild places is the charge I get from overcoming the challenges associated with it. It’s not the challenges that I’m attracted to, nor some sort of macho self-reliance; rather, it’s proving to myself that I can do it. It’s setting a goal and finding a way to achieve it. It gives me a way to measure my successes. And wow, I’ve had a lot of failures over the years.
I can’t say there’s a secret to finding success, at least not one this post is going to offer, because success is a feeling that each of us measures differently. But, generally speaking, finding success includes learning a lot of lessons, and gathering a lot of knowledge. Travelling in the backcountry is no different.
Some of these lessons are easy to gather. They can be found on the internet, in a book, in a formal education setting, or shared among friends on a hike. But there are just as many that can only be earned through lived experience. It’s these lessons that sometimes must be learned over and over before they become part of our way of being. I thought a lot about this on my April 15th trip to Canoe Peak in the Mackenzie range.
Four club members and two guests set out from China Creek in bright sun to hike stage 2 of the Alberni Inlet trail. Trail conditions were excellent with no mud and few obstructions. There are viewpoints and beach access all along the trail. We spent a bit of time on and in the 1913 concrete culvert that is one of the many artifacts of the early 20th century CNPR rail project found along the trail. We snacked at Nina’s Cove and were warned by boaters of a large cougar that had left the beach several hundred meters from us heading towards the trail, but we saw no sign of it. The last 1.5km of the trail is closed due to logging, so we had lunch and naps in the sun at the southernmost viewpoint. There was no excitement but a few laughs on the way back. Ice cream at Whisky Creek made a superb end to a perfect day. Thanks to all for the pleasure of your company.
Wet day (first of the summer for some of us!) and windy at the summit, but it cleared up enough in the afternoon for a quick swim in the lake on the return trip.
Great big team working hard in the rain at the new nut location, and very fun to see the project enroute. There is a long way to go, potential volunteers, but the resulting hut is going to be huge and very solid, in a beautiful place. Many more trips to 5040 in the future!