Monthly Archives: June 2009

Musical Bumps 28/06/09

Ahmad on the Musical Bumps:
“Everything is beautiful on Musical Bumps. The peaks, the glaciers, even the clouds look more beautiful there. The level of snow is much less this year. There are only snow patches and the biggest one was about 50 m in diameter. The trails were in good condition. The bridge over Harmony Creek doesn’t exist but there are logs. Slippery but not too much. The area before the bridge seemed it is frequented by bears. We saw a mother and its cub just before the trailhead. It might get confusing when you get over Harmony Ridge. Go along the ridge rather than crossing it prematurely. The grade will get gentle then. We got to Roundhouse at 7 pm and took the gondola down free. The whole trip took 9:30 in an easy pace.”

Elk-Thurston 28/06/09

Beth on Elk-Thurston:
“Astrid, Bahman, LJ, Geoff and I hiked Elk-Thurston Mountain on Sunday. It started with a pleasant hike through the forest which lead us to a ridge walk from Elk to Thurston. Along the ridge the meadows were beautiful, in bloom with Indian paintbrush, lupine, tiger lilies, glacier lilies and more! We had great views of surrounding peaks of the Chilliwack area and the Cascades, though Mt. Baker was hiding under clouds. This is a great hike! The trail was virtually snow-free and in good condition, with only the occasional small snow patch at the top which did not cause any difficulty. We could see that there was more snow on the north-facing side of the mountain. The day was topped off with a drive over the new Golden Ears bridge (very bumpy, yet majestic), and a bite to eat.”

Northern Stein 27/06/09

Chris in the Northern part of the Stein Valley:
“Bob, Cara, Do, Ian and Michal joined me on a trip to the northern Stein. We managed to drive most of the way up the Texas Creek road (off the Westside road south of Lillooet). It appears that this road is usually blocked just past the 4 km mark from April 15 – June 30 each year to give grizzlies a break from humans but it was open this year. The road surface is rough but 2wd-able until a patch of loose rocks on a hill just past the 9-km marker where we needed 4wd. Up until around 18 km, there are no waterbars. A dandelion-filled landing to the right at around 19 km makes a good parking spot – the bars get deeper, trickier and more frequent over the last 2-3 km of the road. From the road end, we hiked over the Texas – Siwhe divide and camped in the meadows at 2100 m (you will encounter cows here and in Cattle Valley). We had below-freezing temperatures every night and it was frequently windy. From Gordon White’s Stein book (recently republished – the trail descriptions are pretty accurate though road info is dated), we completed hikes 23, 24, 26, 27 and part of 28. We also completed a couple of other routes, discovered some lost trails and generally explored the whole area during some long and ambitious dayhikes. We only encountered appreciable snow on the eastern flank of the peak to the east of Brimful Lake. There’s currently a sow grizzly with 2 cubs resident in Cattle Valley.”

North Coast Trail 27/06/09

Su-Laine on the North Coast and Cape Scott trails:
“Magnificent location, no crowds, more adventure than we’d hoped for. After a 7 pm ferry to Nanaimo, our group of five got on a 10 am water taxi in Port Hardy, and by noon on Saturday were on the white sand beach in Shuttleworth Bight. A quick walk took us to Irony Creek, where we set up camp and dropped the weight from our packs, then spent the afternoon walking on the beach eastward and back.

From Sunday to Tuesday, we backpacked to Laura Creek (11.8 km), Nissen Bight (7.5 km), and Guise Bay (10 km). The trail alternates between beach and forest sections, with one cable car across a river. The mud was deep in places but the trail was easy to moderate in difficulty. The more difficult parts of the NCT, which we didn’t do on this trip, are at the east end. The beaches are teeming with tide-pool life and colourful seaweeds. After setting up camp at Guise Bay, three of us took an afternoon walk to the Cape Scott lighthouse where we were greeted with enthusiasm, Freezies, and a canteen of junk food and cold pop (bring your wallet!).

On Wednesday morning, we packed up for our 10 am water taxi pickup, feeling a little over-privileged for taking this luxury and for our amazingly good luck on the trip: near-perfect weather, and having had three campsites and their huge gorgeous beaches all to ourselves. Our mood changed when the boat didn’t arrive that morning, or afternoon, or evening. It took a frustrating day to make contact with the water taxi operator via borrowed satellite phone, and to find that rough seas to the east were making a pickup impossible that day and probably the next as well. Our best option was to walk 18 km to the Cape Scott trailhead where we could meet an arranged ride out. We looked at the maps, waited for scattered group members to return, and made a quick decision to try to hike to a campsite 8.5 km down the trail that evening. By then it was 8 pm. We covered the distance in 2 hours and set up tents in the last rays of sunlight. On Thursday morning, we did the rest of the hike out in 3.5 hours and made it back to Port Hardy in time for showers, a quick meal, and a sprint to the 9:35 pm ferry home.

I’d planned our original itinerary as a way to cram 4 full days in prime scenery into just 5 days. But if I were to do it over again I would have arranged for a vehicle or bus ride at the trailhead, with a hike out to it, instead of a boat pickup which is much more weather-dependent. The original Cape Scott trail has been improved a lot recently and we found it relatively easy. If you do arrange for a boat pickup, work out a contingency plan with the operator before you leave, carry a satellite phone (not just a VHF radio), and bring enough extra food for what could be a long wait. But however you do it, the North Coast Trail is an incredibly beautiful place, and I feel lucky to have seen it with a great group of people. It is also, for now, a remote place. We didn’t see another person until the third evening of the trip.

Things we saw: sea otters – colourful characters at the Cape Scott lighthouse – a beaver – Craig throwing oatmeal at John – black bears – sunlight on the beach at 10:45 pm.”

Deb on the beach

Hollyburn Ridge 27/06/09

Michelle in the Cypress Bowl and Hollyburn area:
“What of Cypress in summer bloom? June has no bloom, only promises of buds and burgeoning bugs. June has no bloom, but is cloaked in lush green growth and North Shore forest. June has no bloom, but don’t let it take the bloom off Cypress, don’t bid it adieu! Cypress disrobed may have a bad case of ‘ugly naked’. But give it a few weeks and bald and bare will give way to a Friar Tuck or long stranded comb-over of speckled colour on your summer or fall trek through the area. En-route to more distant peaks or passing by to discover lily pad tarns once covered by snow. A rooty/rocky but not completely without charm section of the BP does Cypress contain, indeed indeed. Short patches of snow trundled underfoot under canopy, but easily so. And by two weeks time no more.”

Elfin Lakes 27/06/09

Pablo unwilling to let go of winter at Elfin Lakes:
“My goal for this trip was to build a snowman, so 4 of us headed to elfin lakes to build it. As I posted in the call out, there is a lot of snow on the trail. Snow starts where the hike and bike trials merge, about 1 km passing the campground. We did many parts of the trial leaving a distance of 10-20 m between each other, just in case. We saw a lot of people turning around because they didn’t have proper shoes. This part of the park is where the bears are, we didn’t meet any but we saw lots of traces of them (with bells and smell like pepper spray) in the lower parts. As usual, we ended this hike having dinner in Squamish.”

Sigurd Creek 27/06/09

Steve following Sigurd Creek:
“I hiked with Ming, Dennis, Chad, and Jessica to the knoll on the Sigurd Creek trail near Squamish. On 2 attempts in previous years I got no further than Crooked Falls in May due to snow. This time, no problem due to snow or windfall. That being said, the trail was a bit buggy, and quite steep. Despite a more open view from the knoll, and more broad look at the huge cascading falls, the Crooked Falls viewpoint at the mid-point remained the highlight. This has to be one of the best falls viewpoints I’ve been to in the Lower Mainland, partially because you can get right next to them. Note that the logging road forces you to check in at a construction station, and the construction site saw fit to sign a short-cut for the trail: ignore it and follow the usual trail descriptions (we used 103 Hikes)”

Crooked Falls

Tszil Peak 21/06/09

Ahmad on Tszil Peak:
“A nineteen-hour trip and 10:40 hours on the trail. I can tell you confidently it was a long day. My initial perception that the Joffre Lakes trail was a piece of cake but I found it fairly hard and it was not the quality that I thought – many roots, rocks, and boulders. We got to the bridge that leads to Joffre Campground after 2:20 hours where we had our 1/2 lunch break. All lakes were unfrozen. The trail was also clear from any snow. I was pleased to see Tszil has a trail. I also found it in a better conditions that the Lake trail although it is not well defined as the other one. I don’t think it goes all the way to the summit. The trail eventually climbs on a narrow ridge that was about 100 m high and in some portions was less than 1 foot wide. We got to Tszil-Taylor col at 4 pm. We still had 230 m of elevation gain to do. It was a whiteout. A large part of the slope was still covered by snow. We decided to give it a try. It was not easy. Some rocks were slippery and some of the snow was not in good conditions. We summitted at about 4:55 pm. On the way back, we chose the gully with the snowfield. It was quicker and more fun. This is my second time of taking my snowshoes on a tour without using them.”

Spruce Lake Area 20/06/09

Chris in the Spruce Lake area:
“Cara, Mike and Ribeka joined me on a trip of mixed weather and great hiking in the Spruce Lake area of the Southern Chilcotins. The Hurley Road was about average – bumpy but still 2wd-able. The Slim Creek Road was in better shape even after the work done to put in fire breaks due to the Tyaughton Lake fire (almost out). There’s a couple new spurs and the road forms part of the main fire break. We parked at Jewel Creek bridge and saw only one group of horse wranglers the whole time we were there (usually you have to hop off the trail to let bike trains and horse trains by). The trail was dry and dusty. The snow pack was 20% below record lows and melting fast – almost a month ahead of schedule. For day trips, we climbed up to Sheba Ridge and the ridge south of Windy Pass. Saw many deer but only one black bear. The only signs of grizzlies were a couple of the biggest tracks I’ve ever seen.”

Slesse Memorial 20/06/09

Susie at the Slesse Memorial:
“Susie, Paula, Astrid, Marcelo and Maria met at Edmonds at 8 am, and were parked at the old trailhead just before 10 after 4×4-ing up the Nesakwatch Creek road. Some 2WD drive vehicles had made it about 2 km up the road, but then been stopped by a rough stretch. We hiked 10 minutes up the logging road to the new trailhead, and discovered that this stretch of road is also driveable now. The recent logging in the area is probably why the road has been fixed. We were happy to get on the trail proper, and soon found ourselves at the somewhat scary creek crossing. As Maria observed once she was on the other side, it was an exercise in conquering fear. Now we were into some really beautiful old growth forest and we all exclaimed at the softness of the trail underfoot. We joined the original trail and hiked on up at a very gentle grade. Unfortunately cloud obscured what is usually a stunning view over to Mount Rexford and the Illusion Peaks. The odd bit of drizzle fell, but we were getting wetter from the foliage on the trail than from the sky. We lunched at the memorial site with dramatic views into the Slesse Cirque, waterfalls pouring down all around the bowl and a chilly breeze blowing off the glaciers. We decided to head on to the propeller cairn, and the trail changed dramatically from a very ancient logging road to a scramble through very wet encroaching blueberry bushes. Must be bear heaven in late summer. We started to run into snow as we reached the top of the ridge, and were eventually turned back by a snow bridge that clearly wasn’t going to bear our weight. However we were now looking down into the Slesse cirque from above, and were satisfied with our destination. We were back in Burnaby just before 6, having all enjoyed our day very much. This is a great hike.”