Eugene Y. on the heather Trail:
“Our team went to check out the area around the Three Brothers mountain. The timing was perfect for this trip. The meadows were snow-free and blooming with wild flowers. Thanks to the SW wind, the skies stayed smoke-free despite on the proximity of BC fires, although we did see some smoke on the horizon.
Although the Heather Trail is the most popular route in the Manning park, it never felt too crowded, especially in the evening hours. However, due to the extremely dry weather, the portion of the trail from the parking lot to the First Brother junction was quite dusty. This might become a real issue on long weekends when more people hit the trail.
Unfortunately, the Kicking Horse wilderness campground was full when we arrived, so that we ended up camping in a crowded overflow area. We still had a good time over there. However, for late starters, it’s probably wiser to stay in the less popular Buckhorn campground half-way between the parking lot and the Brothers than take chances with the Kicking Horse.
The views from the First and the Second Brother were quite spectacular, although not as dramatic as those from the ridges in the southern part of the park. Some of us also bushwhacked to the Fourth Brother; however, there was practically no visibility there because of dense fog.
On the way back we stopped at the Lightning Lake for a good swim. That was a perfect way to complete the trip!
Please be aware that the statistics for this trail are somewhat misleading as it goes up and down all the time. In particular it descends almost 200 m to the either camp. The cumulative elevation gain for this trip is probably around 1000-1200 m.”
Ying D. on Gabriola Island:
“We had a very fun weekend touring Gabriola Island. Gabriola, although the flattest of the southern Gulf Islands, is definitely not flat. We had a good workout. You will encounter uphills and downhills throughout your loop of the island. The uphill and downhill are gradual and doable though. Most of the routes are decently paved. A hidden gem we discovered during this trip is Gabbie’s Cider and the orchard. The apples right from the tree and the cider are heavenly! Highly recommended. We also found our spontaneous short ride along Berry Point Rd to Orlebar Point very enjoyable (not part of the loop). It was a very scenic (along the ocean) and smooth (well paved route) ride.”
Dean C. on Fissile, Whirlwind, and Overlord Peaks:
“Ella, Q & I went to Russet Lake Aug 13-14 to see the meteor shower and to scramble up Fissile, Whirlwind and Overlord peaks. After reaching the hut, Ella and I slogged up Fissile’s scree treadmill and steep summit ridge, then after a brief summit celebration we slid back down for dinner where no less than 28 tents were now pitched! Popular place for meteor gazing, and we saw two later that evening. On Sunday I quickly solo-ed Whirlwind, Refuse Pinnacle and Overlord in less than 4 hours return, motivated to return, pack up, and meet them at the village; after enduring more Musical Bumps in the heat, we were only 5 minutes apart (though they had time to take the Peak to Peak Gondola for some sightseeing). I was somewhat tired afterward and learned much from my experiment with duct tape on a tiny blister; I turned a mole hill into a mountain. Two day totals: 37 kms and 2,680 m elevation gain over 13.5 hours, and at least 6 unique peaks (with 12 actual summits).”
Andrew W. at
Radium Flora Lindeman Lake:
“It was a last minute callout with some last minute changes due to snow.
First up: Radium Lake. One look at the snow level and that idea was quickly changed. Second up: Flora. We got 3/4 of the way there (after many a switchback) but then encountered deeper snow (2-3 ft or so) than expected so a return to base was the wisest course of action. Naturally, we were equipped to camp and camp we did. Lindeman Lake was relatively quiet and a refreshing night.
Pics on the Flickr pool as per usual.”
Chris M. on Brandywine Mountain:
“The combination of easy access and nice alpine makes Brandywine a good last-minute weekend destination. My Xterra made it to the 4wd parking area with no problems. The trail through the meadows has been upgraded and now there is very little mud. We left the valley before the end went south up to the ridge where we scouted out camping locations. From our vantage it was fun to watch different groups take various routes up the mountain. They all looked like coloured ants. In the evening we made a good firepit and soaked in the superb star show.
We didn’t rush in the morning but we were still easily the first people up to the summit on Sunday. We didn’t have to cross any snow and the views were fabulous. When we returned to camp we took a siesta before packing up and taking a slightly different route back down. Our travel time between parking and camping was around 2 hours, both ways,
Paul, Amy & Liam all had a similar desire for a relaxing but satisfying alpine trip, which made for a perfect group experience. The warm sunny weather was fantastic; especially for October.”
Colleen C. at Illal Meadows:
“In spite of the evidence hitting the windshield on the drive out to the Coquihalla, I remained stubbornly optimistic the clouds would clear and we’d have glorious sunshine all weekend. As it turned out, I was half right and we got to enjoy a snowstorm too!
After a fairly smooth ride along the 20 km of the Tulameen Road and then a deftly driven 3-km up the bumpy Illal Creek road (still waterbarred but less bushy than I remembered) we made it all the way to the trailhead. The 5-km Illal Meadows trail gives straightforward access to the meadows, a lovely area with white rock, heather and tarns, from which one can choose their own adventure (Jim Kelly and Coquihalla Mts are popular objectives).
Just as we made it out of the forest, the wind picked up and cold, swirling white stuff filled the skies. We found a sheltered spot in a tree clump to eat lunch and imagined the views around us – the elusive Illal Unicorn featuring prominently. With next to no visibility, we went another 3 hrs around Illal Peak and NNE along the ridge towards Spiral before finding a suitable camp spot.
We awoke to sunny skies and after a leisurely breakfast continued along the ridge to Spiral (minor scrambling). After lunch on the summit, we wandered back to camp to pack up. Heading back we enjoyed the views we missed the day before. Identifying peaks, marvelling at the fall colours, searching for salamanders, and engaging in serious squirrel discussions, the day went by all too quickly.
Thanks for staying cheerful, sharing snacks and warmth, and maintaining a sense of humour – you all made it a great trip!”
Chris N. at Cirque Lake:
“The bushwhack in to Cirque from the Conflict Lake trail is far from straight-forward. Attempt only if you are very comfortable with steep bush and are armed with at least a map, compass and/or GPS, and a good, intuitive feel for where you are. Basically, we hiked the Conflict Lake trail for about 20 min to just past a small pond. From here, we bushwhacked north to find the base of the cliffy, discontinuous ridge running up to Hidden. Climbed the ridge until about 1600 m elevation where we started to sidehill along a set of narrow benches in the forest. Eventually, we found ourselves at a pass that dropped us down to the south-west corner of Cirque. We made our way around the west side of the lake and climbed the meadows to a ridge to the north-east. Here we camped (there’s several flat spots) just above a smaller lake. We climbed Lonely and explored more small lakes to the north (and found much garbage from snowmobilers who frequent the area from the Soo valley in the winter). We returned the way we came in but lost the route once we hit the ridge edge so we headed due south to meet the Conflict Lake trail about 10 min west of where we left it. If you are planning a trip in the area, canoeing to the end of Callaghan Lake and taking the established trail to Cirque would be much easier. The lake edge is steep in most places but there are some good camping spots to the north and 100 m higher than the lake.”
Tu-Loan at Brew Hut:
“Another great trip into the backcountry with some good Wanderungers! An easy hike in, a great night to camp on the snow (with a hut for socializing, especially if there’s a bachelor party on the go!), and plenty of options for side trips were the highlights of this trip. If you haven’t seen the pictures yet, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76047188@N06/sets/72157648661841903
The information that most of you are looking for though is the directions to the trailhead! We almost didn’t do this trip! When we arrived at the trailhead as per the VOC directions, we were disheartened by the prospect of bushwhacking through an ugly mess of shrubs and pricklies. Fortunately, we bumped into a group of hikers who led us to the right trailhead, not too far from the original winter trailhead. At 8.6 km from the highway on the Roe FSR, take the right branch OR park there if one does not have a high clearance vehicle (this trip can be done with a 2wd, unless there is snow on the road). About 1 km from the junction (stay straight on the road and don’t mind the branches), you will see flagging tape on your right that will lead you through a clearcut. Markers on stumps are visible from the road. The trail is well marked (thank you VOC!), taking you through forest and a boulder field before it opens into some sweet territory. The hike to the cabin is about 4kms and not a whole lot of elevation to contend with.
Thank you Matt and Gary M for a great weekend. I’m looking forward to going back!”
Eugene on Zoa Peak and at Adams River:
“Four of us traveled to Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park east of Kamloops in order to watch one of the largest Sockeye salmon runs in the world. The official festival has already ended, however, the spawning season was at its peak. The fish count follows a mysterious 4-year pattern and is dramatically higher this year.
As we were walking along the river, we had plenty of opportunities to have a closeup look at sockeye, as they were too busy struggling against the strong current in a desperate effort to reach their life-long goal. Portions of the river bank has accumulated a large amount of dead or dying fish. And yet, as we walked along those graveyards, we could easily spot the beginning of a new life with plenty of fish eggs lying around. Overall, it was a really dramatic experience watching the fish, as the sockeye offered us another perspective on life and death.
Another highlight of the trip was the spectacular Thompson valley and the city of Kamloops with its well-preserved historic downtown. This was a great place to escape from the never-ending Vancouver rain…
On the way to Kamloops, we did a short hike to Zoa Peak. Most of the trail was covered by fresh snow, which started at about the 2 km mark and became over 20 cm deep at the peak. However, there were still a few open rock sections in the middle part.
Route finding to Zoa Peak was a challenge, especially on the upper portion, where there were virtually no visible markers. We were mostly following the footprints of some small animals that appeared to follow roughly the same route.
Unfortunately, the main Zoa Peak was hidden in clouds, so that once we reached the fully forested minor peak, we decided to turn back. Nevertheless, as we were walking along, we had plenty of opportunities to enjoy the gorgeous views on the surrounding peaks and valleys.”
Tu Loan at Twin Lakes:
“Steps to an awesome backcountry trip through Wanderung:
- Place a callout to the most amazing place within a 4 hour drive: Twin Lakes (Haylmore-Melvin Divide in 103 Hikes Book).
- Be lucky enough to gather a group of great people who all pitch in to do their part to make the trip great: Elisa, meal sharer extraordinaire; Ty, beverage sharer extraordinaire; and Nima, human mule extraordinaire. TLT was photographer and meal sharer #1.
- Have a car that can drive 13 km on rough FSR and make rock clearing a sport amongst your passengers.
- Provide a doable and scenic 10 km hike through a U-shaped valley with plenty of flowers and creeks to distract from the bugs.
- Arrive at the first lake with plenty of time to take in the beauty of being in the alpine and the magnificent views mountains to the south and waterfalls to the north.
- Prepare a delicious meal for 4 with the non-chefs fighting off the now-not-so-cute-but-aggressive marmots (one ran off with Nima’s headlamp on our last day!). Beverages were well paired for the meal: white wine, après dinner port, and Bailey’s for yet hot chocolate.
- Be prepared for the unexpected cold evening! Ty’s bivy sack was frosted, inside and out, the next morning. Luckily, we had a structural engineer to explain the phenomenon.
- Spend the whole day exploring the area above the first lake, with a magical trek through a meadow of wildflowers!! Nearby peaks are scramble-able. Make sure you have Matt Gunn’s book to help with route finding.
- Enjoy a second evening of a delicious meal and wine pairing and great company.
- Pack up the last day and retrace trek back to car and head over to Birkenhead Provincial Park to find solace from heat and jump into the refreshing lake. This was also bought us time until HWY 99 southbound opens up again (Iron Man Canada).
- Enjoy after hike refreshments and meal in Pemberton!
Thank you Elisa, Nima, and Ty for making my first overnighter callout so memorable with great stories, great food, and great company! Pictures as proof!”