Mount Benson from a Popular Lake

~ submitted by Bil Derby

May 13, 2018

Five intrepid Ramblers and one guest (Karen’s son Nick) met early on Mother’s Day at a popular [redacted by request of Department of National Defence ] before heading to [redacted by request of Department of National Defence ] 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 [redacted by request of Department of National Defence ] 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.

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East Sooke Park : Coastal Trail and More

~ submitted by Bil Derby

April 15, 2018

A great number of Ramblers met in the Aylard Farm parking lot at 08:30 under a brightening sky and near perfect hiking temperatures.

The group doing the one-way Coast Trail trip quickly headed off on their car shuttle leaving seven of us to tighten boots, adjust packs and confirm that yes indeed I had my lunch with me this time.

photo by Wendy

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Mount Benson, a Snowy Day

–submitted by Bil Derby

On a foggy damp Sunday morning, the six of us met at the Witchcraft Trail Head, made introductions, tidied up the necessary paperwork, and offered our hopes to the weather gods before getting underway at 08:10.  Veering right away from the “tourist route” at the first trail junction we climbed upwards to cross McGarrigle Creek at 460 meters, more or less, to follow the Outer Route.  A brisk uphill from there led us to a brief stop at the first bluffy viewpoint just above the climbing wall. From here on the trail gets a bit bushy and there may have been a word or two about the use of hiking partners as dewatering tools for the salal.

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Mt Benson: The Outer Route

–submitted by Bil Derby

Eight of us met at Morrell Sanctuary to make introductions, do the paperwork, and shuttle cars to the Witchcraft Lake trail-head. We were on the trail at 09:00 heading up the northernmost trail towards the creek crossing, the ascent to the climbing wall and first or many viewpoints. Unfortunately, two had to turn back, one for who the trail was more strenuous than expected and one who graciously cut her day short to escort the first back to  Witchcraft Lake.

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Mt Albert Edward with Youth

 –Submitted by Bil Derby

26 – 28 September 2015

We all know Mt. Albert Edward, most of us have been there (some many times), and, for all arguments sake, it is an easy summit to tuck under our belts. It was my first island summit in 2005 and the one that sparked my interest in mountaineering and the alpine that burns strong today. This past weekend I had the pleasure of introducing four Royal Canadian Air Cadets (shameless plug for the Air cadet program) aged 14 – 17 to Mt. Albert Edward.

This trip was their second with me, the first being Flores Island, and was their first island summit. It was also the successful completion of their respective Bronze and Silver level expeditions within the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program, the cadets having planned and executed the trip on their own with only my supervision and advice on risk management.

We started from Raven Lodge early afternoon on Saturday and found ourselves at Circlet Lake at 17:30 after poking along through Whiskey Meadows, taking a few detours to see things, and stopping a few times to deal with tender feet, adjust packs, and offer encouragement in the form of food……they are teenagers after all.

Sunday was an amazing bluebird alpine day, all sun……and wind. The ascent to the ridge reminded tired legs of yesterday’s exertion and hinted at the exertion yet to come but the view from the first alpine plateau was reward enough and spirits remained high.

Reaching the main ridge line connecting Jutland and AE there was suddenly a clear understanding of the scale of the mountains.

Mount Albert Edward (left), Mount Regan (Right)

Lunch enroute, a bit of a snowball fight, and a long slug up the summit slope found us on top at lunch and notations made in the register. We were five of 17 to summit, not counting the five that were coming up as we were headed down.

Back at Circlet for supper and a debrief on the days experience and then, to my amazement, the teenagers went off to bed while the old guy stayed up and watched the stars drift by in a crystal clear sky.

Monday we came out via Murray Meadows, Kwai Lake, and the Battleship trail. Tired teenage legs conveyed tired teenage bodies relentlessly towards the truck….and food….did I mention they were teenagers.

All in all it was a fantastic trip with a fantastic group of kids. They enjoyed their trip and I enjoyed their enthusiasm, energy, and trust. Lessons were learned; I from them and them from me, and each of them came away with an little bit deeper understanding of their place in world, the value of wild places, and the accomplishment and confidence that comes from stepping out of their comfort zone.

Planning, in the warm light of accomplishment, is underway for their next adventure. Hopefully they humour me once again and let me tag along; it keeps the mind young when you can share time with youth.

Bil Derby
205 Collishaw RCACS (Nanaimo)
Canadian Cadet Organization