Mount Apps is one of my favourite short alpine hikes. Located in the Beaufort Range, it offers a beautiful ridge walk through alpine terrain. The roads have pushed so high up the ridge that you literally start the hike on the crest of the ridge – 4×4 permitting, and, weather.
Sunny as the day was, we had a chilly start and found a skiff of snow on the highest of the elevation. We moved at a quick pace along the ridge. Sticking to the boot track was tough at times, where the snow obscured the track, or where we got off route and waded through salal.
~ submitted by Jes Garceau; photography by Linda Fynes
How dare I! My first hike as a trip leader and almost three months later I am writing not only the trip report but handing in the participant list to the club for the records. Well, I suppose this year everyone has a built-in excuse for anything that has gone awry, right? As most club members are familiar with this hike I will spare the details of the route as it is well travelled and documented. What I would like to write about is what this first year of being a Rambler’s member has meant to me and how this was portrayed in my first leadership role. I realize this may sound like too big of a deal for the Judge’s Route, but for me this opportunity was a big deal. Organizing and leading an activity is a new experience for me and an area I would like to gain confidence in.
I was given the opportunity to lead my first hike when due to popular demand, Matthew’s group for Mt Arrowsmith became full. This opportunity gave me the chance to lead while having the safety net of an experienced leader along with me. As forewarned in an informative and light course of trip leading taught by Matthew, the biggest part of trip leading is the extensive pre-communication required about trip details as well as finalizing the ever-changing participant list. This club course gives you access to all of Matthew’s highly touted organizational tricks, tips and habits to help you succeed as a trip leader. After everything, the two full groups ended up Matthew’s and my family units and 4 additional club members.
Six of us set off from the Ships Creek trailhead on a cool and overcast Saturday morning. The trail is in excellent condition and is still quite dry. We paused at the first lookout which can give views stretching from Mount Marks to the Comox Glacier, but the clouds had dropped low enough to conceal any mountain presence.
5040 Mountain is a favourite hike for many of our club members. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I had many inquiries about joining the trip I hosted. So much interest, in fact, that I enlisted the help of a second leader to take on the extra hikers that I couldn’t host; Sherry stepped up.
The 5040 hike of July 11 took place on Aug. 15 as snow levels and visibility were still an issue on July11. This hike was appended to Matt Lettington’s hike up 5040 and 7 people came along. It was a beautiful warm day so we started early, meeting at 6:30 am with 2 people coming up from Maple Bay (a VERY early start).
The coordinator, Sherry, was sweep and the reluctant hiker, Peter, was lead. This worked well until Holly realized that Peter was waiting too long for Sherry to catch up on the way down and took the lead. One and ¼ hours got the group to Cobalt Lake and about ½ hour further got us to the cabin. It was occupied but closed for visitors. We had snacks and the 4 am starters from Maple Bay decided to enjoy views from the cabin porch while the rest of us trudged to the top. By noon, we met the other Island Mountain Rambler group led by Matt Lettington and had nice chats about flying ants, bugs in general, and how to fine tune trip participant levels.
On the way down, Holly took the lead with a good pace and we congregated at Cobalt Lake for swims, dips, and water refills. The rest was a slow but steady descent through trees, roots, and rock to the cars. All were down by 3:30, thankful that we’d gotten an early start on a very warm day.
After watching the mountain forecast for Arrowsmith all week, we decided to move our trip up the Unjudges route to Sunday and take advantage of the partial sunshine forecast – haha. 5 of us met at Whiskey Creek and picked up a sixth at the Alberni summit hump. We dropped a car at the judges route and took 2 cars to the unjudges trailhead.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve summited Mt. Arrowsmith for the annual New Year’s Day expedition, but it must be at least 10. The first year I participated was in 2001, and I climbed it in my backcountry touring skiboots. They provided great support, but were heavy and of course cumbersome. But there was a lot of snow that year, right from the parking lot off Pass Main, and they were great for kicking steps.
Before leading this year’s climb I was apprenhensive:
after a 6-week trip to Mexico I wasn’t in the best of shape. Could I handle it?
of the 7 others in our group, I didn’t know 3. Would they all be okay?
there have been three accidents in recent years on this climb, and I fretted about the conditions. Would it be icy and treacherous?
Thankfully, though, my fears were unfounded. Everyone did just fine, and it was probably the easiest winter climb I’ve had up Arrowsmith with good snow conditions, for the most part.
The trail was bare of snow until we’d hiked up for about 1/2 hour.
We pushed the limits of a B rating on our sunny, December trip along Wesley Ridge. We had an excellent day on the ridge. The leisurely pace helped with this as it allowed for in-depth conversation on a diverse range of topics.
The most challenging effort of the day was gaining the ridge. To ease the transition from sitting to hiking, we took our sweet time. Once we gained the hill, we found ourselves first walking in hoar frost, and eventually the lightest dusting of fresh snow. Though the first highpoint was mired in a fog that obscured any meaningful view, it didn’t last long. By the time we were halfway along our route, the cloud dissipated and the sun shone down.
Though it remained cold throughout the day, we kept ourselves warm by maintaining a consistent though relaxed pace to cover the 1000 meters of elevation gain and 14.4km.
So did we make it in under 6 hours? No, we needed an extra 15 minutes. We might have made the 6 hours mark but for the blowdown along the ridgetop and missteps at the very beginning of the day. I heard no complaints over the smiles on people’s faces as we finished up this Ridge Ramble!