Mount Phillips Family Backpacking Trip

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, originally published on

I struggle to find a balance between work, play, and family. When it comes to my annual vacation, I pack in as much playtime as I can, and this means I often leave my family at home while I’m off on an adventure. With my busy schedule, sometimes I’m unpacking one backpack by putting gear straight into a different one. This is exactly what happened on my August 13-15 backpacking trip to Mount Phillips. On August 10th, I hiked off the Augerpoint Traverse; with the next trip only a few days away, I didn’t have time to put anything away before getting ready for my family backpacking trip to Arnica Lake and Mount Phillips in Strathcona Park.

We had an ideal forecast, and if not for the haze of smoke in the air from forest fires, it would have been perfect conditions. Fortunately, the smoke didn’t hinder our breathing – it only obscured some of the otherwise amazing views.

Mount Phillips, Arnica Lake, Mount PHillips
alpine meadows that any bear would love

In addition to my wife and two children, I led a group of five Island Mountain Ramblers on a trip that I offered as an easy backpacking trip. The trip was split into three days, and the lion’s share of the distance and half of the elevation was planned along the well-manicured trail to Arnica Lake, where we set up a basecamp for two nights. Of course, the second half of the trip, out to Mount Phillips, is where the suffering was found.

Horizontal Distance: 29.1 km
Starting Elevation: 351 m
Maximum Elevation: 1718 m
Total climb: 1707 m
Total Duration: 3 days
Continue reading “Mount Phillips Family Backpacking Trip”

Mount Phillips via Arnica Lake

I’m using Island Alpine as a benchmark of mountaineering achievement, a checklist of mountains to summit. It mostly leads me to exciting adventures which I approach with anticipation, but every so often I find a hike where my expectations are low. Setting out to hike Mount Phillips in Strathcona Park is an example. In August 2013, I hiked the lengthy Phillips Ridge to the peak of Vancouver Island, The Golden Hinde. I assumed I would be hiking a well-booted trail through open terrain to a summit that many people regularly visit. The day would blow my expectations out to the water.

Mount Phillips, Strathcona Park, Vancouver Island, Map and GPS Route

GPS route with photographs in place

Total Distance: 29 km
Starting Elevation: 350 m
Maximum Elevation: 1722 m
Elevation Gain: 1900 m
Total Time: 9.5 hours

 Our new hiking tradition seems to be setting out well before dawn. On Sunday, October 18th, we set out from Phil’s house at 5:30 am, and arrived at the trailhead near the Nystar Mine not too long after sunrise. On the drive in we were mired in dense fog, but temperatures were warm, around 12 degrees, even before dawn. We were in for a cracker of a day!

-Read the full report on Matthew Lettington’s Blog: Boring Art, Boring Life