Paradise Meadows to Wood Mountain: A Family Traversing

–submitted by Matthew Lettington; originally published on explorington.com

Call it our wedding anniversary, the final weekend before school, an early celebration of Octavia’s birthday, or just Labour Day; on September long weekend, I led a group of families on a traverse of Strathcona Park.

It starts with trying to hold them back

I’ve hiked the route between Raven Lodge and the Old Forbidden Plateau ski lodge on two previous occasions. Each time, I vowed to return to do it as an overnighter. Though a bit of a longer route, it meanders Forbidden Plateau with very few steep climbs; a fit group can complete it in about nine hours. In terms of a hiking route, there are very few like it on Vancouver Island. So when the question, “what to do as a family trip for our various celebrations in the face of COVID 19?” arose, I proposed doing the traverse as a family trip.

Distance: 26 km
Starting Elevation: 720 m
Maximum Elevation: 1226 m
Total Elevation Gain: 727 m
Total descent: 1100 m


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Strata Mountain: Don’t Bother

–originally published by Matthew Lettington his blog: explorington.com

Getting up at 3:00 am isn’t my favourite way to spend a Sunday, but I do it week after week. I head outside, driven by my Island Alpine Quest, the goal of summiting more than 250 peaks. In doing so, I find myself hiking in some seldom-visited locations on Vancouver Island. Why do I do it? I’m the type of person who needs a goal to stay interested. There are factors that help smooth the rough early morning starts, like those fleeting moments of looking through old-growth forest or picking my way along a craggy ridge. But occasionally, the quest takes me to a place that I’ll never return – one worth skipping. Strata Mountain is in this category.

It’s not that the mountain is out of the way; after all, it’s in the heart of one of the most popular regions of Strathcona Park. And it’s not that it doesn’t have anything to offer; the high ridge tops out over 1400 metres, with an easy walking alpine ridge that has great views of many nearby peaks, including Mount Albert-Edward and Mount Adrian. But because the area is overused, and because there are many other nearby peaks that offer a more dramatic and aesthetic ascent, it’s just not worth the effort – except maybe as a side trip.

Nevertheless, it’s on the list, and Strata Mountain demanded my attention. On March 4th, 2018, I led a group of six Island Mountain Ramblers on a winter trip to the summit of Strata Mountain. It was a near-perfect day for the long trip across Forbidden Plateau, with clear skies that persisted through the morning, and a well-packed boot track that allowed for a quicker-than-normal pace.


Total Distance: 21 km
Starting Elevation: 1065 m
Maximum Elevation: 1445 m
Total Elevation Gain: 775 m
Total Time: 9 hours
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Octavia’s first snowshoe trip

–Photographs by Mike Hincks and Kim Leong

— view more pictures on explorington.com

Dear Octavia,

You’re a natural outdoorswoman! It was back on December 16th, 2017 that we finally got you out on your first snowshoe trip. I hosted a family/beginner snowshoe trip with the Island Mountain Ramblers as a way to get the whole family outdoors together. You were already 14 months old at the time — a whole year older than your brother’s first time! I’m sorry we waited so long to get you into a backpack and out in the snow! We tried to make it happen last winter, but between your age and the weather, we just couldn’t find a day that worked.

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Forbidden Plateau to Mt. Washington – Sept. 30, 2017

— Read the original post on John Young’s blog

Wow! What colors! I’ve never been so dazzled by fall colors as I was yesterday on our Island Mountain Ramblers’ hike from Forbidden Plateau to Mt. Washington.

We started our 27 k. hike at 8:20 under cloudy skies, with showers in the forecast We headed up the old ski area, and although going from this end meant we had more elevation gain than starting from Mt. Washington, I was glad we got this part over first, as it wasn’t ‘t scenic at all. Thanks to our leader, John Robertson, for arranging our car shuttles and deciding to start from the old Wood Mountain (Forbidden Plateau) Ski Area.
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Wood Mountain to Paradise Meadows

–Submitted by John Robertson

Five hikers set out in 2 vehicles from north Nanaimo at 6am. By 8:20, we had dropped a vehicle off at the Mount Washington trailhead, and backtracked in the other, to the old Wood mountain ski area. Drizzle and cold wind greeted us as we shouldered packs, but with the initial climb up the old ski hill, we worked off any potential chill quickly.We stopped for lunch at McKenzie Lake. By that time, the wind had died to nothing, and the sun was doing battle with the clouds (although the clouds ultimately won the day). After lunch, we continued on our way, in a light rain. From this point, the trail became a bit more grown in, and we took turns in the lead position, filling our boots as we knocked accumulated water off the blueberry bushes that hung over the trail.The GPS recorded 27.7 kilometers, and we were all quite satisfied with our day. It’s a good hike, when, as soon as the pack comes off, the talk is about the next opportunity to do it again.

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Mt Elma: Beginner Skitour

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, Read the full report on his blog

On February 19th, we met at Ski Tak Hut in Courtenay to gather the final pieces of backcountry ski gear needed for our day on the mountain. Lisa and I watched the sky, hoping that the hard rain would let up – or at least, that it was snowing on the mountain. Our original plan was to ski Mount Becher, but the rain forced us to reconsider our options; we decided to take our chances with Mount Elma instead.

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Paradise Meadows to Wood Mountain — A long established trail in Strathcona Park

— Submitted by Matthew Lettington

Strathcona Park is loved by many for the diversity in mountaineering it offers. It has something for every type of adventurer: short & long day trips, traditional routes, climbing,  and mountaineering. If one is looking for adventure in the Alpine they can find it here.

Several of the hikers crossing one of the water crossing on the Paradise Meadows to Wood Mountain Route
Hikers crossing crossing a creek  on the Paradise Meadows to Wood Mountain Route

Sunday May 14th I led a group of 9 Island Mountain Ramblers and guests on a long day hike through a portion of Strathcona. We hiked from Paradise Meadows, starting at Raven Lodge through the rolling low alpine meadows, beside many ponds and lakes and lightly treed regions to Wood Mountain, frequently called the Forbidden Plateau.  Paradise Meadows is by far one of the most visited places in the park. It is the launching point for many day hike and multi day adventures. Many hikers will be familiar with the Wood Mountain/Forbidden Plateau Parking Lot as it is the usual launch point for hiking Mount Becher, Boston Ridge, Mount Drabble and more.

Map from Paradise Meadows to Wood Mountain
GPS Route to Wood Mountain with Photographs

Total Distance: 26 km
Total Elevation Gain: 730 m
Total Time: 8 hours

This is my third hike on this route but the first time I appreciated the historic nature of the hike. The hiking club to which I belong, Island Mountain Ramblers, have a lifetime objective hike that I’ve yet to complete, Mount Becher to Mount Jutland and much of the day’s route is included in this section of the trail. I suspect the objective has a lot to do with the fact the trail was the main route to the region of the park where, now, many people adventure to familiar mountains like Mount Albert-Edward.

View the full report on his blog…