As the temperatures soared to 30 degrees in the valley below, the strong wind on Mt. Cokely kept us cool, for the most part. The views, the flowers, the rock scrambling, and the wonderful company made for another great outing in the mountains of Vancouver
Island. We started off about 9 a.m. with a short walk up the old road.
Why the Hinde(less) you ask? Because we didn’t summit the Golden Hinde, which, for most people, would be the primary objective of this trek. For me, and for most of my group, it wasn’t a big disappointment, because for us it was about the journey, not just about bagging the highest peak on Vancouver Island.
We were two groups of four, with the other group canoeing over Buttle Lake before traversing across Marble Meadows and then to the Hinde, attempting it on the 21st. Aftrer coming within 200 meters of the top, they turned back due to hazardous snow conditions. My group hiked up the Elk River Trail to Elk Pass and then across to the Golden Hinde, making it to the South Tarn at the base of the mountain on July 21. Our hopes of a summit attempt on the 22nd, however, were dashed when we heard from the other group (via our inReach satellite communication) of their aborted attempt. To be honest, though, I’m not disappointed. I was tired, and climbing the mountain (which I had bagged in 1998) and then having an arduous 3-day hike to Buttle Lake before the short canoe back to my truck wasn’t appealing. And frankly, I don’t have the confidence on steep pitches, especially snow, that I once had.
What a difference a year makes! Last year when we hiked this trail, we saw nary a soul past Mount Albert Edward, but this year we met more than 20 others. One big group of about 20, a group of 3, a solo man and his dog, and two runners completing it in a day. The trail is also much better defined than it was just last year – a well-worn tread with many cairns leads the way. Although it is popular and pleasant, it’s far from a “walk in the park,” as over it’s 30 km it gains 2150 m and loses 3000 m. Lots of ups and downs! Since we started from Mt. Washington’s Raven Lodge with an elevation of 1100 m., we had an overall elevation loss of 850 m.
We started off with a stroll through Paradise Meadows
Four years ago, I went on an Island Mountain Ramblers’ trip to Lowrie Bay, and caught the bug–the bug of venturing (at low tide) along the shore and over headlands to the end of Hansen Bay. So when our trip to Nootka Island was cancelled due to COVID restrictions, I decided to return to Cape Scott, with the hope of forging our way along the lagoon to Nels Bight.
June 7 – camped at San Josef Bay (#3 on the map)
June 8 – over Mt. St. Patick to Lowrie Bay (10k; 6 hours 20 minutes)
June 9 – attempted to get to Rasmus Creek, but fallen trees forced us back and we camped just south of the point leading into Hansen Bay (a 10-hour day!)
June 10 – back to Lowrie Bay
June 11 – home sweet home
June 7 – a short 2.5k walk to our campsite
San Jo–arguably the nicest beach on Vancouver Island!
We managed to squeeze all 6 of our tents into this spot in the trees
Our beach-side kitchen, dining and living room
June 8 – up and over Mt. St. Patrick (416 m.) to Lowrie Bay
A rough trail, but oh! the view from the summit!
Bill with some fancy footwork crossing Russell Creek
June 9—some beautiful and challenging seaside hiking
And the bushiest whacking I’ve ever experienced, especially with an overnight pack!
But fabulous flora along the way
Our camp in a small cove on June 9
Michael caching food for the night
June 10 – return to Lowrie Bay
Eli with a sea lion skull
Thankfully, the bear appears to be well fed!
Luckily, the weather cleared up and we relaxed back at Lowrie Bay
I had fun with this Japanese light bulb that I found, intact!
June 11 – back up Mt. St. Pat
And along San Jo Bay and back to the trailhead
Yes, my hands took a beating, but it was worth it!
Snow in the trees, again! My sixth excursion in the last two months, and each time has been beautiful, and always in different ways. This one, we had clear skies with snow decorating the trees, and glorious vistas, not only from the summit, but from the viewpoints along the way.
Lucky or what? My fifth time snowshoeing in the last 2 months and each time the trees have been adorned with snow! Some years, you might never get that, as the snow melts off or is pelted off with untimely rains.
This time, we had snow on the trees right from the parking lot, and although the skies were clear when we set out at 9:45, cloud moved in, limiting our view from the summit.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve summited Mt. Arrowsmith for the annual New Year’s Day expedition, but it must be at least 10. The first year I participated was in 2001, and I climbed it in my backcountry touring skiboots. They provided great support, but were heavy and of course cumbersome. But there was a lot of snow that year, right from the parking lot off Pass Main, and they were great for kicking steps.
Before leading this year’s climb I was apprenhensive:
after a 6-week trip to Mexico I wasn’t in the best of shape. Could I handle it?
of the 7 others in our group, I didn’t know 3. Would they all be okay?
there have been three accidents in recent years on this climb, and I fretted about the conditions. Would it be icy and treacherous?
Thankfully, though, my fears were unfounded. Everyone did just fine, and it was probably the easiest winter climb I’ve had up Arrowsmith with good snow conditions, for the most part.
The trail was bare of snow until we’d hiked up for about 1/2 hour.
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