Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sunshine Coast Trail, 17 May 2014

Darcy B. on the Sunshine Coast Trail:
“Six of us hiked the north section of the Sunshine Coast Trail for three days, around 15 kilometres per day. Our group included John, Dennis, Teresa, Edith, Susanna and Darcy. We had warm weather, blue skies and big white cumulous clouds. We parked our cars at the end of the trail at Powell River. Taxis brought us to the boat docks of Lund. After tasty snacks from Nancy’s Bakery, we launched off in a water taxi. Passing the Ragged Islands, we lingered at one spot as a pod of orcas swam by. At Sarah Point, the taxi pilot held the boat with a rope by a rock ledge while we unloaded gear. The start of the trail was elusive. It heads up left and inland, not right and along the shore. Once on the trail, it was well marked the whole way.

The trail was dry and springy, comfortable to hike on. A plethora of spring wildflowers were in bloom. The trail led up and down high hills with viewpoints on bluffs overlooking Desolation Sound. Later the trail overlooked the Pacific and Savary Island. Wednesday Lake was surprisingly warm and many of us stayed in the water up to fifteen minutes. There are low cliffs to dive from. The last two kilometres to Manzanita Hut were the most difficult ascent of the three days. Manzanita Hut sits on a bluff with an expansive ocean view. The location only has one tent pad. Both huts we stayed at had firepits and plenty of cut firewood. John donated his hatchet for future use at Manzanita. The two huts we stayed at have an open ventilation design. Mosquito netting is required to sleep in the huts unpestered.

The trail from Manzanita to Rieveley’s Pond Hut had a couple of long climbs and descents then levels off to pass through open woods with ferns, moss and occasional giant firs. A young bear and big mama were glimpsed running through the forest. Also seen were snakes, frogs, Steller’s jay, red-headed woodpecker, shrew, hummingbirds and several mosquitos. Reiveley’s Pond has an old rickety dock to swim from. The pond is shallow but don’t stand up. The pond bottom is silty mud that you will sink in up to your thighs. A couple of us found out the hard way. There is more space for tents at Rieveley’s Pond Hut.

The third day was the easiest hike. The trail followed several creeks and waterfalls. Sliammon Lake was pristine and warm to swim in. The trail wove through chest high ferns, around several small ponds. At Little Sliammon Lake there is a dock with a canoe and paddles. This lake is pretty and also warm and swimmable. The final stretch of trail ascends to cross a sunny exposed ridge overlooking Powell River. The trail conveniently emerges at Shinglemill Pub. Refreshments were welcome thirst quenchers. The trip was much enjoyed and we all felt luck shone us throughout this 2014 May long weekend.”

Tunnel Bluffs, 17 May 2014

Stephen H. at Tunnel Bluffs:
“Christine, Jaime, Jenn, Kristie, Louise, Thomas, and Tu joined me for a perfect day on this trail north of Lions Bay. We went the extra bit to the Loggers Creek Lookout, which is nothing special but still worth it. That was the roughest part of the trail. We had Tunnel Bluff Lookout to ourselves, and saw only one other party on the trail. Highlights included a bear skull. Highly recommended for this time of year.”

Gabriola Island, 16 May 2014

Brenda C. cycling Gabriola Island:
“My original plan was to do a solo cycle tour of Gabriola Island but decided to invite a few people along. In the end I did a solo cycle tour just as originally planned! I am not sure if it was the forecast of rain on Saturday or that it was only 2 days of a long weekend or that my trip included a Friday but nonetheless, I was happy to do the trip on my own.

I cycled from my home near Broadway and Granville and made it to Horseshoe Bay in 1.5 hours. I left extra early as I was not sure how long it would take me. The sun was rising and there were few cars on the road – it was a lovely ride. The 8:30 am ferry brought me to Nanaimo then then it was an easy cycle to Nanaimo Harbour terminal to catch the ferry to Gabriola. On the ferry I ran into the other Wanderung day cyclists who kindly offered that I could join them for the day. I knew I wanted to take my time checking out the island so I passed on the offer. I hope you guys had a great day! By 11:05 I was on the island and in less than 5 minutes I was at Descanso Regional Campground where I set up my tent and checked out the bay at low tide. Descanso is a very nice campground as far as car camping sites go. It is located in a nice forest area and, though there are no waterfront sites, it is a short walk to the water.

I spent most of Friday cycling along South Road stopping at beaches, checking out the petroglyphs near the United Church and the tide pools at Drumbeg Provincial Park. Gabriola is a nice island for cycling. There are constant rolling hills but overall, not too many steep climbs (South Road leaving the ferry terminal is probably the toughest climb). I had an early dinner at Silva Bay. I’d recommend the restaurant at the marina: a nice, large patio overlooking the marina; good food with vegetarian and gluten free options and cold beer! Oh, and there’s a liquor store next door if you should want to pick up a few bevvies for watching the sunset later. Just a suggestion! That evening as the sun set I checked out the rock formations at Malaspina Gallery and relaxed on a rocky point as sea lions swam by.

Saturday, after breakfast on the waterfront at Descanso Bay, I packed up camp (the friendly camp hosts allowed me to store my stuff at the office while I cycled the island for the day) then went to the Farmer’s Market. There were lots of edible goodies and talented artists. It’s a good spot to pick up a wedding gift! (Just sayin’…) The forecast for Saturday had been rain: wrong! As one of the other patrons of Mad Rona’s Coffee House said ‘there must be a sun pocket over Gabriola Island.’ It was another gorgeous day. I spent a few hours beachcombing at Sandwell Provincial Park. Over the 2 days I went to almost every beach on Gabriola, except for Whalebone Beach. Well, what did I find at Sandwell? Whalebones!!! Or maybe sea lion bones. Ribs, sternum, vertebrae and flipper bones. I called the visitors centre thinking that this was a unique find but when no one came rushing to see my discovery I realized that I am just a city slicker who should have been a marine biologist! That afternoon I caught the 3:15 ferry back to Nanaimo. It gave me plenty of time to walk along the promenade and enjoy an ice cream before heading to Departure Bay for the 5:20 pm ferry. Just as I boarded the ferry it started to rain. Thankfully, it cleared up by the time I reached Horseshoe Bay which allowed me cycle back home again as the sun set behind me. I was quite proud of myself for making this a fully self propelled trip – okay, I had some help from the ferries!

My recommendations:
– Use a BC Ferries Experience card to save on fares and bicycle charges (I saved over $10)
– Camping at Descanso Regional Park: less than 5 minutes to the ferry terminal
– Check out the Farmer’s Market: High quality artisans and yummy treats
– Great beginner to intermediate cycle trip: there are hills but it’s not too challenging.”

Gabriola Sands Provincial Park

Meager Creek, 10 May 2014

Tu Loan at the Meager Creek hot springs:
“With no news regarding the road conditions, we were uncertain as to how far we could get on the FSR (road after Pemberton Meadows) before hitting snow. A 4wd[1] vehicle was necessary to get up a steep hill at the 23 km marker. Clearance wasn’t too much of an issue, as you just have to avoid the larger size rocks on the road. (Beware that they are building a new road, so make sure you take the steep road going up on the left. If you see big machinery, don’t take that road!). We made it all the way to around 27 km before we were met with some snow (750 m elevation). We parked the cars and the 6 of us headed off to the hot springs with great anticipation!

The 3-km trek to the trailhead was uneventful except for the putting on and taking off of snowshoes. We thought that we could do without them, but the snow was soft and we sunk quite deep…deeper for shorter legged people like me! We would encounter a patch of snow, then a long stretch of gravel, before coming upon a long stretch of snow again. We surmised that after a few weeks, one would be able to drive straight to the trailhead. We were at the trailhead in 45 minutes.

According to our fearless leader, the trek to the hot springs was a mere 10 km[2] (!), 6 km of which were to be in the forest and the last 4 on a logging road. What we didn’t realize was how rugged the terrain would be and how the soft snow would hinder our speed. Time was also lost with the taking off and putting on of snowshoes. Our poor snowshoes sure took a beating! With spring conditions, exposed logs and rocks/boulders could not be avoided. The most challenging part of the trek was post holing through the snow in the clear cut sections. We were post holing because we dropped our snowshoes by the small boulder section of the trail, thinking that we no longer needed them. Wrong idea! Poor Bryan found himself chest deep in snow at one point. The best part of the trail was the amazing trail markings by the VOC. Thank you to those who were part of this project. It is very hard to get lost as orange markers were frequently placed and easy to spot.

After 7 hours, we arrived at the hot springs, tired but elated! This was my first visit and a long time waiting[3]! Because of the landslide from 2010, these springs can no longer be accessed by car. The campground had an eerie feeling of abandonment. We were just excited to have the whole place to ourselves! The main pool was well maintained and Fred fiddled with the hot and cold water pipes. Someone thoughtfully left a pond net for us to scoop out the algae. We don’t know when it was last visited, but the pool was mostly clear of algae. Kit noticed that the pool was heart shaped! What better way to end the evening than with an après dinner soak in the hot springs? It was just what our sore and tired bodies needed! Candles were lit for ambiance, and we had a lovely evening of adventure story telling… because that’s what a bunch of Wanderungers talk about on trips!

The trek back was a bit quicker and we were back at the car in 6 hours, with plenty of rest breaks. Again, the clear cut sections proved to be most challenging. BOO for clear cut! The only other heads up is mosquitoes! They made their presence on the trail and at the campsite. I figure they will be in full force after a few weeks. I came home with 10 bites!

Thank you Fred T. for organizing this trip! If not for the snow, the trip would definitely have made the 5 hour timeline. I am hoping to go back in the fall and avoid the mosquitoes. By then, I hope the trail will be well-trodden!

[1] We took with us an Infiniti QX4 (Goldi, her first backcountry adventure) and a Subaru Legacy.
[2] In a straight line.
[3] Personally, 19 years! I know, I know, what was I waiting for?!”

Meager Creek, May 10-11

Martin Peak, 11 May 2014

Colleen C. on Martin Peak:
“The trip got off to a rough start when it was admitted that there were no cookies, in spite of promises made.

However, after that things just kept getting better and better. We were able to drive all the way to the trailhead (16 km east of Squamish, mostly up the Mamquam FSR). The snowshoes went on within the first 30 minutes at about 950 m. The skies cleared to a glorious blue with poofy clouds flying above gleaming white mountains. The sun warmed the snow which quickly soaked our boots, but the temperature was so high our feet stayed warm (albeit wet – why have waterproof socks if I always forget them?).

We followed a deactivated logging road for a couple of hours with stunning views of Garibaldi and Mamquam then headed up towards a promising bump below Martin’s west peak. There was no evidence of other humans, but animal tracks crisscrossed our path – hares, bears, bobcats (?), chipmunks, and ravens. Our lunch spot provided beautiful views from Tantalus to Meslilloet to Pinecone. We decided to do a loop back with some fun and easy downhill bushwhacking (except for one random step into a hidden snow trap that required a rescue – note to self, make poor stuck person agree to demands before digging them out of the quicksandy snow slush!) that quickly became very easy as we discovered another old logging road that led us back to our initial route.

This is a fantastic area with so much to explore. Just for starters there’s Watersprite Lake, Dreadnought and of course Martin Peak’s two summits. Expect to see at least one more callout to the area this summer!”

Tunnel Bluffs, 2 May 2014

Steve v. at Tunnel Bluffs:
“Freak warm weather conditions and a failed attempt to get a hike going the day before made me extra motivated to try to get some people out for a weekday hike.

In my callout I even said that I expected low turnout (i.e., one car), but – wow – was I wrong. On a weekday, less that 24 hours notice, 10 replies from eager hikers ranging from old hiking buddies all the way to visitors to Canada only here for a month.

Despite that range, we were pretty well matched, especially considering the steepness of the trail (I had not remembered it being quite so “Lynn Peak”-like). Tunnel Bluffs is mostly a forest trail with some nice mossy areas and a few pretty big trees, but the real payoff is the lookout at the turnaround point. The view is pretty good when you get there but do not stop there! I’ve seen this twice – to get the full 1/2 panorama you need to move down the slope a bit to the big rock shelf with the firepit (not dangerous just a bit closer to the edge) and the view really opens up to all the way from Anvil Island to Horseshoe Bay. Like Jenny from our group said, not as much work as some hikes for a view this decent.

It took us close to 4.5 hours but can be done in less. Overall, a great early season hike (snow usually gone by April) but make sure you go on a day that the view will be visible. You may even seen this trailhead and parking but not know it – it is one of those pullouts just West of Lion’s Bay on the Sea-to-Sky with the “cedar hat” info booths (super easy to get to).

(Note: we confirmed this trail is, in fact, Tunnel Bluffs Lookout, “Tunnel Point” is most likely a reference to the geography at water level.)”