This was a 4 day trip up island for some car camping, hiking, and exploring. On our second day we left one vehicle at Atluck Lake campground and proceeded to Merry Widow Mtn on the backroads, coming at it from the South instead of the more common route via Port McNeil. (We wanted to find the Vanishing and Reappearing Rivers on the way. We only found the Vanishing but it was impressive!) Previous reports had said the climb up the hill on Merry Trail Main was deactivated, and in fact the sign saying so is still at the bottom. We quickly discovered a nicely graded road, and after a quick chat with a couple guys in a Western Forest Products pickup we discovered there is currently active logging both right at and beyond the trailhead. This is good for an easier drive up the road, but we were slightly more concerned at meeting a loaded truck, and the soundtrack to our hike consisted of chainsaws and machinery noises.
Winter sent a confusing message in early March. There was obvious evidence of winter’s demise, and I even wrote a few posts saying so. But then winter made a roaring comeback, with some ski hills receiving as much as 200cm of snow. Although this is great news for spring skiing, it makes planning adventures a bit more challenging.
On Sunday, March 6, we intended to adventure in the Bonanza Range, with a goal of summiting Mount Ashwood. With the recent snow and poor layer adhesion earlier in the year, the avalanche risk was set to extreme. After assessing the risk, and our beta for the trip, we changed our plan and picked another mountain: Mount Russell. It’s located north of Campbell River, but not as far as Woss. Another long day in the car was inevitable, but the juice was definitely worth the squeeze, as Phil would say.
In many of my trip reports, I write about getting into situations that require a rope for descending, walking along exposed ridges, or setting protection in the rock in order to reach a summit. In comparison, Mount Russell is an uncomplicated route, ending with some fantastic ridgewalking. For folks looking to get into the high alpine without the exposure that many other peaks on Vancouver Island entail, this is a series of bumps to check out.