July 6th was going to be a busy day for our work party. There were 8 volunteers signed up but as the forecast worsened the cancellations started arriving. By the time we hit the trail, there were three souls that braved the misty conditions to do a day’s work on the trail.
For the day we focussed on installing an extra step in the eroding bank, stabilizing the bank by installing extra width on one of the steps, hauling more debris into the off route sections, and trimming wood obstacles that could hook a hiker’s foot. A big part of the project is doing sustainable work that withstand the test of time, and that means controling the flow of water. Much of the trail erosion has been made worse by the waterfall that forms on the trail and flows down a large portion of our section.
On June 1st, a five-member crew hiked spent a little over five hours on the Mount Benson Project. We scheduled a short day to allow for members to join in the club BBQ, later that day.
With a seemingly endless amount of work to be done the crew focused first on moving materials from the lower road to the eroding bank. Once positioned we spent the remainder of the day working at the eroding bank.
After watching a few groups walk through the site we picked a route that is now the one route up through this section.
Our first work party for the Mount Benson project was a huge success! Six people made the hour-long hike up to the project site. As a large group we cleared the old logs out of the normally boggy section and dug a few holes for the concrete footings used for the walkway.
On Saturday, March 30th a small group of Ramblers and guests took a few hours to hike the Mount Benson trail. Our goal was to survey the area that we are designated to work in, describe the type of work that needs to be done, and examine what the winter rage has wrought.
Happily, the snow has receded, revealing the ground and making it easy to see the work we still need to do. The work falls into four categories, requiring three different types of skills to complete.
On Saturday, March 30th a small group of Ramblers and guests took a few hours to hike the Mount Benson trail. Our goal was to survey the area that we are designated to work in, describe the type of work that needs to be done, and look at what the winter has wrought.
We started off just after 9 a.m. under clear skies, with just a couple other vehicles in the parking lot. After crossing Witchcraft Lake, we headed up the far right trail to the waterfall, or what would be a waterfall in warmer temps. We crossed McGarrigle Creek and as there’d been more snow since I’d been up this way the previous Wednesday, we broke trail for the next 2 hours. With the fresh snow blanketing the ground and the trees, it was truly a winter wonderland! After we reached the old road, we made new tracks as far as Gordie’s Trail, and even then, no one had recently been that way. It wasn’t until we came to the junction with the other trails, Fossil and Rafe’s Way, that the snow was tracked. I had thought, that with the new snow, the way to the top wouldn’t be as slippery as it could be, but I was wrong! It was treacherous, and once we reached the summit we put on our traction devices, and for the descent we were glad we did! Three other people (and their dog) were on the summit when we arrived, and others soon joined us, and we saw several more as we went down. It took us just over 3 hours to ascend; 2 hours down. A wonderful outing with a great group!
Crossing Witchcraft Lake
A slippery trail on the bottom half
But after crossing the creek, we were soon wallowing in the snow
But some beautiful views and natural art
And wonderful snow!
A squirrel tried to break trail for us, but needs some work on that!
And we still broke trail on the old road
And even up the first part of Gordie’s Trail
It was slippery near the top
Approaching the summit
After basking in the sun, we slipped/slided our way down
We started with the goal of practicing essential skills of the winter mountaineer: walking with crampons, and self-arrest. Although the slope conditions in the prior week would have been ideal, a recent dump of snow worked against our plan.
Twelve eager hikers set out earlyish new year’s morning to
enjoy what’s become an annual hike and remembrance of Mike Hordelski.
The weather was ok with mixed cloud and sun with no wind.
The evidence of our recent wind storm was most visible around Witchcraft Lake,
and several trees have fallen since the big blow, so the ground is still
saturated and caution needed. Most of us put on our traction aids around the
third way mark and the trail was easily followed. We met no-one going up and
the views at the lookouts were quite good. There was a lot of snow on the final
third, but the trail was packed and the going was easy.
We had the summit to ourselves for 10 minutes before the
rest of Nanaimo started to catch up. Conditions on top were good with some
changing views. The coastal mountains were quite spectacular. The descent was
uneventful and somewhat slowed by the number of people we met. We heard some
very animated conversation below us at one point and a hiker explained that it
was group of Brazilians in their first encounter with snow. We intended to pass
by the 1942 plane crash site but windfallen trees have all but covered the
It was a grand day and Mike would have enjoyed it. Thanks to all for the pleasure of your company.
On my journey to summit all the peaks on my Island Alpine Quest, I don’t often find time to hike a mountain more than once, but when I do, it’s because I’m hiking with my children. On October 27, I led a group of ten that included Hemingway and Octavia on a quick trip to Gemini Mountain in the Nanaimo Lakes area. It was a less than perfect day: cold wind made short work of our layers, cutting through our clothes to thoroughly chill us, but we took the chance to cross the saddle between the two peaks and scramble to the summit of the second bump.
My first visit to Gemini Mountain was on a bleak, blustery day, back in 2016. It was the type of day where we wore our jackets, gloves and toques, and by the end of the hike, our gloves were filled with icy water. Relative to that trip, this one was an improvement in almost every metric. But it was still frosty, and above 1300 metres we found ice on the tops of puddles– Hemingway took delight in smashing the ice with a hiking pole.
Total Distance: 5.7 km
Starting Elevation: 1138 m
Maximum Elevation: 1518 m
Total Elevation Gain: 626 m
Total Time: 5h 44m