Family Day weekend adventure to Stowe Peak.

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

Is there a difference between hiking and camping for three days, versus doing three hikes in three days? It sure feels like there is. For Family Day weekend 2016, I ventured out on three day-trips, each with a different group of friends. The first trip was a beginner/family snowshoe around Lake Helen Mackenzie; the second, an intermediate snowshoe to the summit of Mount Allan Brooks. The final trip, and the topic of this post, is a more serious hike ascending majestic Stowe Peak.

Walking in the circ below Stowe Peak, Prince of Whales Range on Vancouver Island
A group of two men descending from the Stowe-H’kusam Col

Stowe Peak is located in the Prince of Wales Range, which lies between Campbell River and Sayward. Geographically, this range is unique as compared to the south island. The mountains erupt on the edge of the Johnstone Strait, in some cases towering right out of the sea, and quickly rise to elevations greater than 1500 metres.

Read the full report on his blog Boring Art, Boring Life

Springer Peak

–submitted by Matthew Lettington read the full report on his blog Boring Art, Boring Life

The many peaks in the Prince of Whales Range feature some of the greatest views of the Johnstone Strait; the distant peaks to both the east and west aren’t too hard on the eyes either. If you haven’t had a chance to hike in the region yet, I urge you to throw on some boots and head for the hills! My first hikes in the area were only this past summer, first when Phil and I hiked Mount Kitchener, and then when Phil led an Island Mountain Ramblers hike up the Stowe Creek Trail to H’Kusam Mountain. Having enjoyed these hikes, we eagerly planned to do another; we even entertained the idea of summiting Springer Peak and Stowe Peak in the same day. Ultimately, however, we would only achieve the first peak; conditions were wintery, and even at the lower elevations frozen ground made progress slow and dangerous.

approaching the final pitch tot he summit of Springer Peak
approaching the final pitch tot he summit of Springer Peak

Springer Peak Map and GPS route
Springer Peak Map and GPS route

Total Distance: 9.7 km
Starting Elevation: 46m
Maximum Elevation: 1604 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1558m
Time: 6 hours 50 minutes

Trail conditions were surprising. We anticipated a trail similar to that of the Stowe Creek Trail, but the two were nothing alike. Although Bill’s Trail is very wide and easy to traverse, it terminates around 1000 metres and transitions into the more traditional Vancouver Island mountaineering route: up and over rocks, through steep sections of moderately exposed forest, and featuring several viewpoints. This transition turned me into a liar! In my trip description, I classed the hike as steep Class 2, obviously underclassed. Bill’s Trail leads from Seaward to the col between Stowe Peak and H’Kusam Mountain. The trail is notoriously used in the H’Kusam Klimb, and the event produces a great map with many features marked.

Read the full report on his blog Boring Art, Boring Life

H’Kusam Mountain

–Submitted by Matthew Lettington
Read the full report on his blog, Boring Art, Boring Life

I’m the classic weekend warrior. I only have one day a week to get out and make mountaineering magic happen. Though there is a ridiculous number of opportunities on Vancouver Island for outdoor adventure, Phil and I are exhausting the climbs that are possible to do as day hikes.

H'kusam Mountain via Stow Creak Trail
Phil walking in the krumholtz on our way back from the summit. 

Already we are pushing far up-island. Many of our Sunday adventures require more than five hours of driving, including early 5 am departures from Nanaimo. The Prince of Whales Range is proving to be a great location for new hikes. On Sunday, October 4th, Phil hosted an Island Mountain Ramblers event, a hike up H’kusam Mountain. Four of us met and hiked this objective, and three of us made the summit!

H'Kusam Mountain Stow Creek Trail Map
H’Kusam Mountain via Stow Creek Trail Map

Total Horizontal Distance: 11.1 km

Starting Elevation: 700 m

Maximum Elevation: 1664 m
Elevation Gain: 1028 m

Time: 7 hours

There are several trails used to access this peak. Two of them form a portion of the trail used for the H’kusam Climb, an annual trail-running event hosted out of Seyward. We used the Stowe Creek Trail, accessed off the Stowe Creek Main Line. Driving north about 60 kilometres from Campbell River, turn right off the highway onto Timber Road and take the left fork. The Stowe Creek Main Line follows the route used for the H’kusam Climb and as such, some maps have the road marked as a trail. It’s definitely a road, but only a vehicle with high clearance and 4WD will be able to negotiate the crossditches and creek crossing to make it to the start of the trail. I left my Outback near the highway and hopped into Phil’s Jeep Liberty. The larger vehicle made it to the trailhead at 700 metres of elevation with little challenge…

Read the full report on his blog, Boring Art, Boring Life

Climbing Mount Kitchener and the High Point on the Ridge

–Submitted by Matthew Lettington

I hope you are confused by the title of this post. I’m sure you are asking yourself isn’t the summit the high point? In most cases the answer is yes! However, on Vancouver Island the answer is most probably … who knows.  The more I hike and climb the more I am made aware of the inaccuracies of my maps to give me the true summits, show me all of the crucial details regarding elevation change and even report accurate elevations for summits. We most likely attribute these inaccuracies to the original surveys done of the local peaks.

Phil Walking through the mature forest on the way to the open mountain tops
Phil Walking through the mature forest on the way to the open mountain tops

A great example of this is the unnamed peak commonly refereed to as 1920, so named as it is marked on the map as being 1920 metres high. In actual fact it is 1931 m, though in this case the high point is marked as the summit. A second example is Mount Rosseau, the summit is incorrectly marked. The point is places in a col between two bumps. Both my GPS map sets have this inaccuracy . Mount Kitchener in the Prince of Whales Range has similar issues. The high point is quite a distance from the summit and requires significant loss in elevation before climbing back up to the summit. It is in this way that it’s possible to do the summit without hitting the high point.

Mount Kitchener Map and GPS Route with Photos
Mount Kitchener Map and GPS Route with Photos

Total Horizontal Distance:  10.2 km
Starting Elevation: 810 m
Maximum Elevation: 1453 m
Total Elevation Gain: 925 m
Total Time : 4h 45m

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