The Mount Benson Project continues to roll along. During the summer, we spent our time diverting water and shoring up the eroding bank. Since then, we have been reluctant to do any work that relies on the integrity of the work previously done. When the fall rains arrived, we examined the results of the work, and it appears that most of the water is being diverted off the trail. Though there is still more work to be done in this area, we are ready to move into some other areas of work.
On Wednesday, October 30, Dustin and Matthew loaded their backpacks and set out with adhesive, rebar, and hammer drill do work that added steps in a few key places within our section.
On Saturday, October 28th, I led a group of 9 –including a
13-month-old—to the summit of Mount Apps. The sun may have been shining but
that did not offer much reprieve from the biting cold and bitter wind.
Our late September trip to Pinder Peak was fantastic! The combination of a dry, cool day on a snow-free route filled with plenty of alpine berries reminded me why I (sometimes) love fall hiking! This trip was very different from my first trip to Pinder Peak.
If you’ve ever driven along by Atluk Lake, you’ve probably spotted the Pinder massif out your window. It rises from the wooded shores of the lake as a rocky tower that begs the mountaineer to climb it. The summit massif is marked by two prominent features, either of which is a worthy objective, though the subpeak is probably more of a challenge.
Total Distance: 14.0 km
Starting Elevation: 360 m
Maximum Elevation: 1550 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1223 m
Total Time: 7 hours
That moment when you stand on the end of a cliff, a rope both ahead of you and dangling over the cliff, when you make the conscious decision to step over the edge is the hardest. If it’s your first time or the 100th time rappelling down a rock face, it’s a thrilling feeling.
My summers are hectic. I pack my days full of hiking in the mountains and coasts of the island. Often, I’m thinking about what to pack on my next trip while I’m unpacking my gear from a trip I’ve just finished. So come September, I’m ready to head back to work and the normalcy of weekly routines that it brings. But not before I squeeze in one last hurrah, on Labour Day. This year, we picked Marble Meadows as the destination for the weekend, and it didn’t disappoint. It was just what I needed after a summer of rained-out trips and the loss of a friend on a mountaineering trip.
Marble Meadows is a unique treasure within the boundary of Strathcona Provincial Park. But before you start shouting, “Uh, Matthew, there are many treasures in the park!”, let me qualify my point. It’s one of the few places you can stand on the top of a mountain and see exclusively unlogged landscapes, turquoise lakes, and the many types of rock found on the island. It’s a backcountry destination well-known by hikers and fossil-hunters for its rolling terrain, well-booted track, and the millions of fossils visible on the surface of the exposed limestone. You get the point: Marble Meadows is worth a special note.
Once you’ve done enough hiking on Vancouver Island, you will realize that most of the great hiking requires that you drive down a section of industrial gravel road. And that’s if you’re lucky; a good number of these places require walking stretches of road as well. Mount Mitchell is one of those.
Located along the Strathcona Provincial Park boundary, between the Norm Creek Valley and the south arm of the Oyster River Valley, this rocky feature creates a jagged protrusion of that boundary to include the area above 1200 metres into the Park. Below that, the terrain is stripped bare, and roads are visible throughout the surrounding valleys.
Aside from the tragedy of the lost forest, the roads give fast access to the start of our route. In previous years when the gates were open, Mount Mitchell was considered a daytrip. In those days you could access the route either via the Oyster River gates off Highway 19, or from the Boliden-Westmin Road along the Buttle and Park mainlines. However, times change, and so do permissions and road conditions.
Total Distance: 44.9 km
Starting Elevation: 232 m
Maximum Elevation: 1842 m
Total Elevation gain: 2548 m
I set out with the best intentions, leading a trip up Heather Mountain. But after our rendezvous near the highway, the two drivers lost track of each other on the dusty logging road. Though each driver insists they didn’t turn off the logging road, and each drove the length of the road multiple times, we didn’t make it to the trailhead. We must have passed each other three times.
July 6th was going to be a busy day for our work party. There were 8 volunteers signed up but as the forecast worsened the cancellations started arriving. By the time we hit the trail, there were three souls that braved the misty conditions to do a day’s work on the trail.
For the day we focussed on installing an extra step in the eroding bank, stabilizing the bank by installing extra width on one of the steps, hauling more debris into the off route sections, and trimming wood obstacles that could hook a hiker’s foot. A big part of the project is doing sustainable work that withstand the test of time, and that means controling the flow of water. Much of the trail erosion has been made worse by the waterfall that forms on the trail and flows down a large portion of our section.
On June 7th a group of four ascended to the saddle between Mount Cokely and Mount Arrowsmith to practice using crampons and mountaineering axes. Despite the sun breaking through the clouds we had good conditions for our practice.