Helen Mackenzie Snowshoe Trip

March 14, 2020

~ submitted by Matthew Lettington

On Saturday, March 14, I led a small group on a snowshoe trip to Lake Helen Mackenzie. It was two families, me with my two children, and Jes with his son Trace.  It was Hemingway’s first-time wearing snowshoes to walk, even though the conditions didn’t require it. We had very sunny conditions but cold air that kept the snow very dry and the sky clear.

Continue reading “Helen Mackenzie Snowshoe Trip”

A family snowshoe loop: Featuring another family!

–submitted by Matthew Lettington —read the report and see more photos on his blog

As parents, my wife Kim and I fall into all-too-familiar parent-child relationships with Hemingway and Octavia. My behaviour exemplifies the old platitude: When you love your kids, you want the best for them. You’ll go out of your way to make sure their lives are better than how you perceived your own to be. I take my children on backcountry adventures to give them formative experiences at a young age, experiences I don’t remember having when I was their age. Of course, believing that these adventures are making their lives better is a romantic notion; I wonder if Hemingway feels the same way.
Continue reading “A family snowshoe loop: Featuring another family!”

First Family/Novice Snowshoe of 2016

–submitted by Matthew Lettington

The forecast held true for our scheduled Family/Novice snowshoe trip for the winter 2016/2017 season. The skies were darkened by overcast skies air temperature hovered just below freezing, and there was hardly any falling snow. overcast skies and the air was slightly below zero, on the Island Mountain Ramblers first Family/Novice snowshoe trip of the 2016/2017 winter.


Continue reading “First Family/Novice Snowshoe of 2016”

February 27th Beginner Snowshoe Trip to Lake Helen Mackenzie

February 27th, 8 Island Mountain Ramblers gathered at Ravel Lodge to head out for an easy snowshoe to Lake Helen Mackenzie. We were expecting poor conditions; overcast, and possibly some rain. We got lucky! We found sun, even if it the sky was dotted with racing windblown clouds the view was spectacular.

Photograph by James Latham

image by Michael Paskevicius
It hasn’t snowed in quite a while in Paradise Meadows, probably it is more likely that it has rained. The snow was icy with a thick crust. Even as we made our way up to the lake, and at the lake, the snow was dense and supported our weight. Our biggest biggest issue was the icy trails, and disappearing snow. The snow covering the bridge before Helen Mackenzie is eroding, only a narrow fin remains. Mo unloaded Hemingway from the sled and carried him across in her arms. I hauled the empty sled across without incident. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

image by Michael Paskevicius

They icy trails offered a minor challenge. The pulk sled rode high on its vinyl runners. On traverses the sled slid sideways. At one point right off the trail, rolling, and ejecting Hemingway onto the snow!  He cried but he settled quickly after the jolt! The crusty snow transferred nothing onto him, so he was happy again shortly after loading him back into the sled. I think Hemingway’s main complaint is when the snow gets on his face and down his neck.

image by Michael Paskevicius

We made the lake in just over an hour, I was surprised at our speed. The hard packed conditions of the trail encouraged as speedy arrival. Because, we arrived so quickly we took our time to enjoy the wonderful sun, and eat our lunch. After feeding the birds and petting some dogs, we left walking across the lake on our way to Battleship Lake.

image by Michael Paskevicius

We arrived back at the parking lot shortly after 1 pm. Again I was surprised by our speed, but the conditions were idea for snowshoeing and the time/distance calculation fit with summer times. We hiked 8 kilometres, and hiked an accumulated elevation of just under 200 metres. Next time we will stop and smell the flowers, or take some pictures to really enjoy the sun! It was a short day but a gooder.

View full album, more than two dozen images!

Lake Helen Mackenzie on a sunny day in February

–submitted by Matthew Lettington
Read the full report on his blog: Boring Art, Boring Life

Over the past two months, I have been working to build a pulk sled. I’m motivated by my dream of backpack-free winter camping (as I could haul my gear behind me on my snowshoe and backcountry ski tours), and by the weight of my son (as he just won’t stop growing). My first pulk sled had a high degree of success, but it also had some flaws. I learned a lot constructing Pulk Sled v.1.0.

Lake Helen Mackenzie in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island
Hemingway cuts a trail on lake Helen Mackenzie

I went through at least four revisions on this first sled. My goal was to create a pulk that is easy to pull, easy to transport, easy to use in the field, protects the cargo, and maneuvers and tracks well.  Addressing the revisions, I altered the harness (how the stays connect to the harness); changed how the load in the sled is distributed; added stabilizers so the sled tracks better; and more. I found a great amount of success. In ideal conditions, Pulk v.1.0 works great. However, I hope to use the sled in conditions that are less than ideal.

Helen Mackenzie to Battleship Lake Loop GPS and Map
Helen Mackenzie Battleship Look Map

Total Distance: 8.0 km
Starting Elevation: 1042
Maximum Elevation: 1162
Total Elevation Gain: 250 m
Total Time: 4 hours

Family Day Weekend, Beginner Snowshoe

–submitted by Matthew Lettington
Read the full report on his blog: Boring Art, Boring Life

Family Day Weekend has come and gone, and I’m happy to say that I made the most of it. I planned three trips, including an overnight camp at a familiar trailhead in Seward. Don’t fret: I spent at least one of those days with my family! The first day was a beginner snowshoe trip to Lake Helen Mackenzie; Day Two, an intermediate snowshoe trip to Mount Allen Brooks; and the third, a more challenging trip to Stowe Peak, in the Prince of Wales Range.

Island Mountain Ramblers, Snowshoe to Helen Mackenzie
everyone looking out for the littlest Rambler

On Saturday February 6th, eleven Island Mountain Ramblers headed out from Raven Lodge on an easy snowshoe trip to Lake Helen Mackenzie. Several guests joined us, including two of Kim’s long-time friends, Emhrys and Nichole.

Raven Lodge to Lake Helen Mackenzie snowshoe
Lake Helen Mackenzie Map with photographs

Total Distance: 6.8 km
Starting Elevation: 1068 m
Maximum Elevation: 1161 m
Total Elevation Gain: 178 m
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Simple Snowshoe around Lake Helen Mackenzie

–submitted by Matthew Lettington
Read the full report on his blog: Boring Art, Boring Life

Another beautiful day in the low alpine. On Saturday, January 30th, I led a small group of Island Mountain Ramblers, along with a special guest, on a trip through Paradise Meadows to Lake Helen Mackenzie and back. We had fine weather: a little sunshine, some light snow, and a clear view along our route.

Hiking Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Park, Battleship Loop

In late 2015, I built a pulk sled to use on my ski and snowshoe adventures. Its purpose is to carry gear and my little guy, Hemingway. Since building the sled I’ve made a number of modifications, attempting to improve performance. Hemi was in tow today as we made our way from Raven Lodge.

We left shortly after 10:00 am; we were in no hurry for this simple snowshoe to the lake and back. On our way to the lake, we followed the summer route from the lodge. Though the route is commonly traveled, the conditions vary. On this day, the route had icy patches with a few areas sloping off the booted track downhill. Unfortunately, the sled performed poorly in these short sections as I have yet to install stabilizing fins, or a skeg.

Helen Mackenzie – Battleship Lake route Map

Total distance: 8.4 km
Starting Elevation: 1072 m
Maximum Elevation: 1165 m
Total Elevation Gain: 214 m
Total Time: 4 hours

Read the full report on his blog: Boring Art, Boring Life