Canoe Peak: Go Slow to Go Fast

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, see more images on his blog

One of the reasons I’m drawn to travelling in Vancouver Island’s wild places is the charge I get from overcoming the challenges associated with it. It’s not the challenges that I’m attracted to, nor some sort of macho self-reliance; rather, it’s proving to myself that I can do it. It’s setting a goal and finding a way to achieve it. It gives me a way to measure my successes. And wow, I’ve had a lot of failures over the years.

I can’t say there’s a secret to finding success, at least not one this post is going to offer, because success is a feeling that each of us measures differently. But, generally speaking, finding success includes learning a lot of lessons, and gathering a lot of knowledge. Travelling in the backcountry is no different.

Some of these lessons are easy to gather. They can be found on the internet, in a book, in a formal education setting, or shared among friends on a hike. But there are just as many that can only be earned through lived experience. It’s these lessons that sometimes must be learned over and over before they become part of our way of being. I thought a lot about this on my April 15th trip to Canoe Peak in the Mackenzie range.

On my first (failed) attempt at Canoe Peak from the micro-dam, we were rewarded with excellent views, but avalanche conditions turned us back. This time, we arrived at the trailhead with knowledge of the route, provided by a few friends who had summited just a week earlier.

Continue reading “Canoe Peak: Go Slow to Go Fast”

Mackenzie Peak

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

Highway 14 features some of the bushiest alpine routes on Vancouver Island. Phil Stone even mentions the region in his list of the Island’s best bushwhacks, though this particular route doesn’t make the list. Because the area is not protected by any special status, most of it has been logged. The regrowth is often dense and difficult to navigate, and in alpine regions the stunted trees are even denser – in some cases, wall-like.

Mackenzie Peak, Alberni-Valley Vancouver Island taken by Matthew Lettington
From Mackenzie Summit looking east towards Cats Ears, Tripple Peak and more.

The approach to Mackenzie Peak trailhead is easy. The route starts on Highway 4, about 58 kilometers from the orange bridge in Port Alberni. Look for a pullout on the right side of the road as you round a corner. The trail is on the left side (east) of the highway. We found a long orange ribbon hanging from a tree, marking the start of the trail. We parked on the side of the highway and started up the route just after 8:00 am on Sunday, September 27th. In anticipation of a long day, we didn’t push ourselves too hard.

Mackenzie Peak Map and GPS Route, Vancouver Island
Mackenzie Peak  Map and GPS Route with photographs 

Total Horizontal Distance: 11 km
Starting Elevation: 32 m
Maximum Elevation: 1417 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1449 m
Total Time: 10h 10 m

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