It was cold and dark when we set out from our parking spot near the highway. The moon was low, shining through light cloud. Our headlamps made the frost and ice sparkle. We made quick time on easy trails, making quiet conversation.
The original plan was 2 mountains in one day. Summit Maple first, then Mount Richards in the afternoon. Time commitments for a few members of our group prevented them from committing to Richards. So, as we got our gear together in the Osborne Bay Road parking lot, we dropped Richards from the plan, and decided to explore Maple Mountain only.
Three of us met at the usual North Nanaimo gathering point at 7am, and quickly got underway for parts north. We made good time to Mount Washington. We met 2 more adventurers at the Raven Lodge. Boots were tightened, packs were donned, and we were off.
The trip through Paradise meadows was predictably lovely. Trails were wet and muddy, with no trace of snow, until Lake Helen Mackenzie.
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.
Five hikers set out in 2 vehicles from north Nanaimo at 6am. By 8:20, we had dropped a vehicle off at the Mount Washington trailhead, and backtracked in the other, to the old Wood mountain ski area. Drizzle and cold wind greeted us as we shouldered packs, but with the initial climb up the old ski hill, we worked off any potential chill quickly.We stopped for lunch at McKenzie Lake. By that time, the wind had died to nothing, and the sun was doing battle with the clouds (although the clouds ultimately won the day). After lunch, we continued on our way, in a light rain. From this point, the trail became a bit more grown in, and we took turns in the lead position, filling our boots as we knocked accumulated water off the blueberry bushes that hung over the trail.The GPS recorded 27.7 kilometers, and we were all quite satisfied with our day. It’s a good hike, when, as soon as the pack comes off, the talk is about the next opportunity to do it again.
8 people met at the hike terminus, at Oyster Sto-Lo road, then piled into 2 cars for the drive to the trailhead, at Spruston Road. We had excellent weather, although a bit of atmospheric haze obscured the views slightly.
The moon was shining, and the pre-dawn night was just beginning to brighten when we set out under the light of headlamps on the White Pine trail, just south of the Nanaimo River. Within 20 minutes, the twilight had brightened enough that headlamps were unnecessary, despite the disappearance of the moon behind a bank of cloud.
Under cloudless skies, 2 of us set out from Ladysmith at 7 am, to find a waterfall high on Banon Creek. Our route started on some of the more popular trails above town, allowing us to enjoy views at the lookout, Heart Lake, and Stocking Lake.
From Stocking Lake, we cut through the bush to the Banon logging road, then up a side road. From there, we were into heavy bush and steep terrain. We let our ears guide us to the roar of the creek. We found that it was cascading down a steep canyon, visible, but not approachable.
4 of us started out under a mostly cloudy sky. The sun went down behind the cloud,
without putting on a show for us. Shortly after that, we had some clearing in the west, and were treated to the sight of Venus shining spectacularly brightly, a hand’s-breadth above the horizon.
As the clouds thinned, the moon lit them from behind, illuminating a huge portion of the sky. We had a few drops of rain, but nothing to speak of, and gusts of wind that could take the breath away. We paused for a snack at a high point on the ridge, and enjoyed seeing the lights from the mainland. Even one of the ski hills (Cypress?) was lit up.
At that point, the moon came out in all its glory. Headlamps were turned off, and we soaked it in. Then, back to the cars, and home for supper.
There was a perfect weather window for a short early morning hike from Ladysmith to see the state of Christie’s Falls. The falls are starting to fill out, but there’s a long way to go, before the reach their mid-winter glory. As a bonus, that area has a lot of fall colour at this time.