–submitted by Ken Warren
Nine of us set off from Morrell Sanctuary to hike Mount Benson from the south. Clear skies and warm sun were promised and delivered. Logging activities have made the original trail somewhat more difficult, but a bike trail allowed us to bypass the damaged section.
We missed our intended trail, which turned out to be a recurring theme that day, and found ourselves on the eastern side of the ridge on a new trail that is only partially complete. We managed to intersect our intended trail only to wander off on several newer and similarly marked trails. We did eventually find the summit and enjoyed the views and the sunshine. The return leg of the loop was uneventful, without the trail exploration that marked our ascent.
–submitted by Rod Szasz
images submitted by Julianna Wells and John Robertson
Mt. Hooker is a peak located on the South Side of Second Lake, part of the Nanaimo Lakes chain. It is a lovely sem-alpine summit with a good band of First-Growth surrounding the summit and surrounding area. It used to have a Forestry Lookout from about 1930-1960 with the remains and the old telegraph wire still to be found on the summit. This peak used to be quite frequented because of the panoramic views, but now has few to no summits during any given year. In fact the summit registry I placed in the cairn in July 2014 had no entries since the original placement.
This peak had an access road to the summit still indicated on maps and GPS . This has become completely grown in and even walking on part of it is hard. We did not use this road for access.
Total time about 6 hours.
Total ascent 1023 metres.
After meeting at the Starbucks in Harewood we drove up Nanaimo Lakes Road past the open initial gate and a further 6 kilometres, past the old Nanaimo Lakes marshalling yards and then took the road to Nanaimo Lakes Campgrounds. This gate is open 0800 – 17:00 (20:00 in Summer) and maintained by the warden in the campground. We crossed the bridge between First and Second Lake and parked at the T-junction before the gate on the left. There is a wide parking spot here for a lot of vehicles. There may be some people fishing here, but there are certainly no other hikers.
We made our way up the road about a kilometre and then on a rise kept to the left after two turn offs to ascent an old logging road. This road is good to walk but rather relentless in terms of switchbacks. It is guilded with young alder but offers no impediment to walking. After about 45 minutes the road comes out into a newer clear-cut area and vista open up due to lack of trees. After about 2 hours at about 900 metres in elevation the logging road ends. From here we ascended through a relatively clean and short clear cut and gained some beautiful 1st growth forest. The going was steep but the forest floor is open and spongy underfoot. Evidence of game proliferates in this forest and we followed heavily trafficked game trails roughly keeping on the leading edge of the ridge elevation.
After 45 minutes the summit ridge was gained and from here it was a little over a kilometre in very good relatively flat ground with snow-covered tarns, small rocky hillocks and some Krumholtz. The going was very good and fast and a joy on the eyes after the clear cut.
Just before the summit block we hit the original access road to supply the forestry lookout and then made our way to the end of the old road past the original dilapidated stairs, old cans and remnants of the telegraph. The summit block had a little scramble and we were on the summit where an old helicopter pad and remains of the lookout is located.
We had lunch where it hailed, snowed and then rained on us – so we lacked any real panoramic views.. but that is also a reason to return. It was my 5th ascent of the mountain that I can remember.
Our descent was along the same route, but we decided to explore the old access road for some of its way before breaking into the forest to rejoin our original ascent route. We were back at the truck by 1445 pm.
I searched out the old registry and found no recorded ascents in two years…. I guess because of lack of data online, no trail, and a fear of gates…? I struggle a little with this as I cannot really believe there are that few people around who would not be enticed to try this summit so close to Nanaimo, so relatively wild and so beautiful.
PS: If anyone knows of anyone who has a picture of the original forestry lookout of the peak please let me know. email@example.com