Early fall is often the nicest time for hiking. I often joke with my hiking companions about those who don’t take advantage of the outdoors, they find winter too cold, spring too wet, and summer too hot. There are three ideal weeks in our Vancouver Island year that are perfect for heading outdoors, when spring is converting to summer and summer converting to fall, there are about 9 days at each change that are perfect for hiking! This past weekend must have been that weekend!
Total Horizontal Distance: 21.3 km
Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
Elevation Gain: 873 m
Starting Elevation: 1060 m
Max Elevation: 1269 m
Earlier this year I made late spring trip into the Beaufort Range to visit Mt. Joan. On that trip we ended up making a winter ascent to the summit of Mt. Joan, where we were promptly socked in. Saturday, August 30th the Island Mountain Ramblers made an attempt to traverse the three peaks in this small range of mountains: Mt. Curran, Mt Squarehead and Mt. Joan. The forecast called for 2 mm of rain and light winds. Although the conditions looked a little miserable on our approach, it made for excellent hiking conditions.
Taken from Squarehead, looking back on Mt. Curran and the ridge we ascended (right in photo)
March Break, 2014 marked our trip to Flores’ Wild Side Trail, was exactly as the name suggests wild. We started our trip on Saturday morning from the First Street dock. The passenger ferry was bumpy trip, the seas were not smooth, easily swelling 5′ in the highest places and the driving rain. Regardless the captain brought to Ahousaht Village, safe and sound. Tara, from the Wild Side Trail management team, met us at the dock and escorted us through the village to the office where we recorded our itinerary and paid our trail fee.
taken on the trip out, hence the nice looking sky
Our intent was to hike the whole trail from the village to Cow Bay, mother nature demanded other plans. By the time we reached the first river the tide was high and we needed to take the inland route to the bridge. The trail for the bypass was rough, mostly because of the amount of water, sections were entirely puddles. By the time we made the full bypass both Michael and I had soaked boots. At this point the rain let up slightly to a light drizzle and we took a quick break to enjoy the foggy view and take stock of our wetness. It is at this point we made the decision to seek out the emergency shelter (AKA Don Macdonald’s Cabin).
they smell even worse!
Fortune would have it that the walks along side the cabin, taking no effort to locate. We made our home for two nights at the cabin, using it as a home base for cooking, sleeping and excursions. The first day we ventured to reach Cow Bay but the water on the trails for the headlands slowed our progress so much that we feared not being able to return to the cabin if we continued across the final headland. However, the next day the conditions were much better and most of the water on the trails drained off and progress through headlands was significantly easier. Throughout the day the wild Pacific raged onto the shore, rollers as high as 10′ were evident on the not too distant rocks and close to shore. Making it to Cow Bay was easy but we failed to find the route to Mt. Flores and truthfully it was bathed in fog and cloud and the promise of no view at all (because it is treed at the top) was not enticing us to look as hard as we may have.
It wasn’t until after dinner on the second night that the first signs of something other than rain became visible, at first just a single blue patch of sky and later a beautiful sunset combined with low tides permitted us a late evening walk on the beach and ample time to explore an islet that is normally cut off from the beach.