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.
Eight of us gathered at the end of Arroyo Road just south of Ladysmith to make introductions and swap out flip-flops for boots before starting up the logging road at 09:00, right on time. The grind of logging road walking was offset by laughter and stories as we wandered along to the trail that leads up to the old cabin and on to Christie Falls, or in Mike’s words it’s “Christie Hill” for lack of water.
Five intrepid Ramblers and one guest (Karen’s son Nick) met early on Mother’s Day at Morrell Sanctuary before heading up and over Roberts Roost to gain the shoulder of Mount Benson and follow the SE route to the top. The less than pleasant bit of road walking between exiting Roberts Roost and gaining the tree line on Benson itself foreshadowed the afternoons return trip but all was soon forgotten as the terrain steepened and we worked in and out of small bluffy areas that afforded increasingly pretty views and, at one, a place for a quick bite to eat.
The day started warm and grew warmer as we progressed upward and we were thankful for a light breeze and the shade of the forest. Gaining the summit, we settled in for a proper lunch, a nice view, and enjoyed soulless whine of a drone flying about the summit.
Four club members met for an evening of climbing at Northwood Bluffs; a first for the year. We very quickly ran through our gear, set up a top rope, but only managed to squeeze one line in each before it was 7:30!
On March 25th, three Island Mountain Ramblers braved a poor forecast and made an early spring summit of Mount Flannigan. The three met at the Hydro Project at 7:15 am, found luck with the hydro gate being open, and drove nearly 20 km down the logging road where they finally parked at ~550m. Using a route that climbed through steep slash and beautiful old growth ridge, the three made their summit and then head off to the highpoint on the ridge.
The forecast was mediocre, but the day looked promising when 5 of us set out from the trailhead in Ladysmith. We made good time along Holland Creek, and up to the base of the Heart Lake trail. The grind up to the lookout paid off with good views of Ladysmith harbour, and a few minutes to catch our breath and have a drink. By the time we got to Heart Lake itself, it was a beautiful bluebird day. The sun decked the branches in jewels, as it melted the snow from the night before.