As we approached the trailhead on Sunday the temperature dropped, frost formed in the slash, and wearing shorts was obviously a mistake – but onward and upward. With only four we kept a good pace up to the first tarn which was still liquid, although frost was forming around the edge.
We left Nanaimo at 7 am for Crest Mountain. Driving between the Beauforts and Bowser, the clouds and rain increased and we were doubting our choice. Approaching Campbell River the skies cleared and we were much happier with our decision.
Twelve of us set off for Crest Mountain from the trailhead on the Gold River Highway. The forecast was for good weather and the sky was promising. The trail is well-designed and built, but gains 1100 meters in the first 5km. We didn’t hit snow until the 1400m elevation shortly before coming onto the plateau by the first tarn. The tarns are still 3/4 frozen with blue water pooling among the snow and ice. A forty minute hike in the snow from the tarn saw us gain another 100m and the cairn marked summit.
Gorgeous day for a hike up Crest mountain. We met at the trailhead at 8:30am on Saturday, September 10th.. After a slog up the switchbacks through beautiful old growth forest, we were rewarded with the first views of King’s Peak. Once we emerged from the forest into the sunny alpine, we stopped for a snack break.
An important part of planning any trip is having a Plan B, and sometimes a Plan C. There are a lot of factors that go into developing backup plans, but for me, one of the most important factors is geography: Plan B should be close to Plan A. On Sunday February 28th, we were scheduled to make a summit attempt on Horseshoe Mountain. After a long haul from Nanaimo toward Gold River, down Highway 28 and then an additional 20 kilometres of logging road, we were turned back by a pile of snow more than six feet high that blocked the logging road leading to the Horseshoe Mountain Trailhead. We wasted no time in making the decision to switch to our alternate objective, Crest Mountain.
100 metres more to go to the summit ridge but the view was worth it
Late last year, but early in the winter snowshoeing season, we had a failed summit attempt on this peak. At the time, the snow depth was up to our shoulders, and we failed to find the all-important gully that leads to the lake at the top of the summit ridge. Today, we would fare much better.
It’s been two long years but it’s finally here: winter! Last year, I had big aspirations for winter: snowshoeing, skiing, alpine ski touring, and winter mountaineering. Of course, winter never arrived. Like many other Vancouver Islanders, I have photographs taken on the summits of mountains that are bald! I remember a particular hike up 5040, when Phil and I sat on the summit sunning ourselves in shorts and t-shirts – in February. Even Cobalt Lake had only a thin crust of ice on it, and a few crazy girls were swimming in it! Regardless, winter is here now, and we found it in Strathcona Park.
Ramblers snaking up the hill
Continuing through my long list of mountaineering ambitions, Crest Mountain was the goal for December 20th. By all accounts, it’s easy and commonly hiked. It features a well-developed and marked route with signs in a few key places, and the trailhead is on the side of the highway. The trail does have a few steep sections before attaining the summit ridge around 1400 metres, and then an ambling ridge walk to the main summit. However, meteorological conditions prevented us from achieving our goal.