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
On October 14th, I led a small group of Island Mountain Ramblers on a relaxed hike to Green Mountain. Octavia (25 months old) and Hemingway (5 years old) came with us to enjoy the day, and they were the primary reason for the pace. The weather was perfect. The frost from the evening before still lingered in the shadows, but the sun warmed the open terrain, illuminating the spectrum of colours around us, and the valley surrounding the mountain.
The brilliant reds, yellows, and purples of leaves dangling from branches created a rich tapestry on the hills around us. The large field of bracket ferns had already died, yet their brown corpses still stood tall, dried by the sun, and as we walked through them their feathery fronds brushed against us. The bright colours of the fall were contrasted by the stark green of the evergreens that dotted the route.
Total Distance: 5.2 km
Starting Elevation: 1085 m
Maximum Elevation: 1464 m
Total Elevation Gain: 378 m
Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
Sunday July 15th was a great day for a hike, with clear blue skies. 9 hikers in two vehicles drove Cameron Main and parked at the saddle parking area of Mt Arrowsmith. We started hiking at 9:30 and heading up the saddle, many had not done this hike before so they were in awe how beautiful it was. Glacier Lily’s were seen, as well as other wild flowers. Just a bit of snow left at the top of the saddle.
Three hikers from the Island Ramblers, and 8 from Cowichan Hikers celebrated Canada day by hiking the Westwood Lake Ridges and Robert Rooste. We sang O Canada as we held the flag. It felt good to be with people of all walks of life, and to be hiking on a beautiful day.
Our Westwood Ridges Ridge Ramble was hiked under mixed skies. The five adults and two children took our time exploring the picnic shelter, memorial garden and picking our way through the salal to the upper ridge.