Hiking – Eagle Ridge Loop – 8 Mar 2017

Activity Hiking
Destination Eagle Ridge Loop
Date 8 March 2017, Wednesday
Trip Coordinator Norris Weimer
Contact Info 285-3710 or norris.weimer@ualberta.ca.  Please contact the coordinator in advance of the trip.
Description This hike will include the official trail to Eagle Ridge and an unmarked route descending the ridge and continuing on to the higher ridge to the north.  From there we will descend to the logging road and return to the vehicles. The descent from Eagle Ridge is very steep on mossy rocks.  There is no trail.
Meeting Place Heriot Bay store parking lot for car pooling.
Departure Time 10:00
Difficulty
The section up to Eagle Ridge is a maintained trail of moderate difficulty.  The descent from Eagle Ridge is challenging.  The segment to the next ridge and down to the logging road is on an  unmarked route through mostly open forest.
Costs none
Trip limits none
Dogs? Depends on the dog.  Would need to be completely controlled during the descent.
Notes: Bring lunch and gear for weather.

Trip Report – Mt. Albert Edward – 25-27 Aug 2016

For the effort it takes to get to the top of Mt. Albert Edward, you want to get the reward, the great view. The weather forecast was for hot and sunny. Up until the last moment and then it changed to cloudy and rain, so we moved the trip a few days earlier so we would only have rain on the walk out, with luck. So four of us packed up our backpacks and headed in to Circlet Lake via Helen Mackenzie Lake. It was 34°C in Campbell River that day, but not so hot at the higher elevation we were at. But we went swimming in Circlet Lake when we got there. We got a couple of the tent pads near the lake since we beat the weekend crowds. The next day we got up to clear sky and headed up the mountain a bit after 8:00 to beat the heat. That was the theory anyway, we drank all the water we carried that day and wished we had more. It melted our chocolate. The hike starts with a steep gravel gully, but after that it’s a wonderful hike across sub-alpine meadows and up and along a steady ridge to the summit with great views to both sides. You can see the top of Albert Edward from just about anywhere and so from the top you can see just about everywhere. We had lunch on the summit. There are spectacular mountains all around. Luckily, it was a very clear day and neither we nor they were in clouds. More swimming once back at Circlet Lake. The next day dawned sunny and we put on our backpacks again and hiked out via the string of lakes, pausing to pick and eat blueberries along the way, to Battleship Lake, where we again paused to put our toes in the water. By this time clouds were building up, but the rain held off until the next day when we were home.

In to Circlet Lake 11.1 km, 5 hours, approx 100m elevation gain. Up to Mt. Albert Edward and back 14.7 km, 9¼ hours, approx 900m elevation gain to 2101m. Return via the Lakes 13.0 km, 5½ hours.

Norris

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Backpacking – Mt. Albert Edward – 25-27 Aug 2016

Backpacking – Mt. Albert Edward- 28-30 Aug 2016

 Change of date

Activity Backpacking
Destination Mt. Albert Edward
Date 25-27 28-30 Aug 2016, Thursday to Saturday Sunday to Tuesday
Trip Coordinator Norris Weimer
Contact Info norris.weimer@ualberta.ca or 3710.  Please contact the trip coordinator not later than Thursday, 25 Aug.
Description Three days/two nights hiking and camping in Strathcona Park. Backpack from the Paradise Meadow trailhead to Circlet Lake (10 km) and set up camp on Sunday. Hike up to the Mt. Albert Edward summit and back on Monday (12 km/900 metres elevation gain). This is a truly alpine experience with great views. Tuesday hike out.
Meeting Place Ferry terminal to Campbell River
Departure Time 07:05 ferry
Difficulty Strenuous
Costs Shared fuel and ferry costs, $10/person/night for back country camping
Trip limits Three or four tents
Dogs?  no
Notes: The Circlet Lake campground will be crowded – this is high season. Parts of the trail to Circlet Lake can be muddy. If the weather is not promising, the trip will be postponed or cancelled.

Trip Report – Kusam Klimb – 16 June 2016

There was some interest in doing the Kuskam Klimb trail (Mt. Hkusam, near Sayward, http://www.kuskamklimb.com) but we couldn’t find a date to fit everyone’s schedule, so the trip was postponed to possibly late summer or fall.

However the weather forecast and schedules aligned for four of us, so we made an impromptu decision to go check it out — just a reconnaissance, nothing serious — get to a viewpoint, check out the snow conditions, see what the trail is like. Well… they said it was steep, difficult, with some fixed ropes. It is that. Difficult on epic proportions. Bring your heart rate monitor! Poles help too, except they get in the way when using the ropes. Bring gloves for the ropes. There are a lot of ropes.

The trail starts very nicely, if it wasn’t steep it would be wheel chair accessible. That lasts about 2 km, up to 410 metre elevation. Then the trail divides. We took the shorter steeper trail. It’s more path than trail and it is steeper. Going up there are many short sections of fixed ropes, many more than we expected.

At 4.4 km, 970 m, the trail levels off very briefly and then it reverts to more climbing as it threads its way up what feels like must be a cliff. It’s all in the forest though, so except for a few peeks you don’t see how steep it is down to the valley. Oddly, there’s only one place on the trail where you feel any exposure. There were lots of alpine flowers and we watched a pair of woodpeckers feeding their noisy chicks in a hole in an old dead tree.

And on it goes, relentlessly up, until the Keta View Rock, at 5.8 km, 1270m, which has fabulous views. We took advantage of it for a lunch stop. This is where we thought about how slow it was coming up and how it might be even slower climbing back down and more dangerous. Since we were almost up to the elevation of the col we thought it might be faster and safer to continue up and over, since the south side had logging roads which would make it possible to go faster (although farther). Little did we know.

So, carrying on from there, the trail still goes up but at a reasonable trail grade. The forest opens up, almost sub-alpine, yellow cedars. All very nice. Except the recent days with thunderstorms dumped about 5 cm of hail above this elevation. We described it as white ball bearings. It made footing treacherous.

That section lasts until an excellent viewpoint of the mountain itself and the lake below at 6.8 km, 1435 m. Then we descended steeply in the slippery hail to a small lake which is a very nice green colour. 7.2 km, 1335 m.

From the lake up to the col there is a snow patch and we kicked steps in the snow. Ours were the only tracks. The col is the high point on the trail, 7.9 km, 1469 m, with good views to the south.

From now on it’s all downhill. The first kilometre is very steep downhill, with long fixed ropes, still on slippery hail. Eventually the ropes and hail end. There is a wonderful lush green spring at 9.2 km, 1130 m, and we continued on a normal grade trail, winding down through old growth forest.

At 9.8 km, 1045 m, the trail crosses the stream on a log bridge and becomes an old logging road, wider and flatter, surrounded by young alders. Classic bear country. We didn’t see any bears but we saw lots of bear signs, some quite fresh. This is where it started to sprinkle and looking back the mountain was in the clouds. The weather forecast for good weather was right, but it did warn of showers developing late in the day.

The road down Stowe Creek Valley is a very pleasant walk, with nice view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The only problem is that after a hard day it goes on forever. It feels endless.

After a couple hours (16.9 km, 380 m) we took the turnoff from this good logging road to a more ancient one which heads back to the start of the Klimb. The forest in this section isn’t so interesting, not if you’re tired. Eventually we made it back to the car. 24.4 km, 11 3/4 hours.

We did this hike two days before the real Kuskam Klimb event for 2016. We did not envy the runners who would be trying to go fast on this route! The runner times are online and simply amazing. They range from 2 hours (!!!!!) to 12 hours. As a hike, the Kusam Klimb trail is very interesting and certainly challenging, but it’s very long to do in one day.

Norris

trail guide
http://kusamklimb.com/trail-guide.php

trail map
http://saywardfutures.ca/wp-content/updloads/2015/11/MountHKusamTrail.pdf

 

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Kayaking in the Hakai Conservancy – July 2015

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Access for kayakers wanting to paddle in the central coast has recently become more difficult. BC Ferries used to let kayakers wet launch at several places along its route on the central coast, but the new ferry is not equipped for that. However, BC Ferries still provides kayak transport to McLoughlin Bay near Bella Bella and there is a convenient beach launch site right at the ferry terminal.

For background information about kayaking in this region, see these articles:
http://www.wavelengthmagazine.com/1996/jj96ferry.html
http://www.wavelengthmagazine.com/PaddleBCCentralCoast.html
http://www.coastandkayak.com/2003/jj03central.html

The target kayaking region is from Calvert Island to Bella Bella, with lots of little islands to explore. It is part of the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy and the Great Bear Rainforest.

After looking into the region and the problems of getting there with all our gear, organizing the food, and general safety issues, we decided to go with a commercial kayak tour. There are very few of those to this region and one of them happens to be Quadra based. Spirit of the West (kayakingtours.com) ran two trips to Great-Bear-Rainforest-Outer-Islands this summer, and we went with their first one ever. Seven of us from the Quadra Outdoor Club, two excellent guides (Graham and Sam) and three other women, making 12 paddlers and 10 kayaks in total. The trip was eight days long and we paddled about 20 km each day.

The new ferry is very upscale and provides great buffet meals in the restaurant. Two problems. One, the ferry leaves early in the morning and returns late at night, so it works best to overnight in Port Hardy at the beginning and the end, but every room in Port Hardy books way in advance. Solution: there are inexpensive hostels, but you still need to book in advance. Two, it leaves early in the morning and they want you at the ferry at 5 a.m. and it’s a half hour drive out of town. No solution; it takes them a long time to load.

We loaded the gear into the kayaks at McLoughlin Bay and it was blazing hot with no breeze. By the time we got on the water it was after 16:00, we had a fair headwind and we were never too hot again. We didn’t paddle far before we stopped for the night at a small lagoon just north of the junction of Lama and Hunter Channel. Space was limited for the eight tents, but we were very protected.

The next day was windy and rainy. We crossed Lama Passage and paddled southwest, against the wind, along the Campbell Island shore. We explored wonderful inlets and channels along the way. The weather had improved by the time we reached our campsite on island “49”, a cozy, protected midden beach.

On day three we paddled through some amazing narrow channels and then on through the Admiral and Tribal group of islands to the McMullin Group. We meandered through the shallow waters between islets and then camped on a spectacular, white sandy beach with great views.

On day four we continued through the McMullin islands and then crossed to the north end of Goose Island. We were fortunate to have only a bit of wind and not a lot of swell for this 45-minute crossing. This area is both exposed and shallow and would not have been possible in many conditions. We had lunch and explored the long sandy beach with cabins once used by the Heiltsuk rediscovery camp. We continued to paddle along the east side of Goose Island, against some wind and current, to Gosling and Snipe Islands. This area also has extensive shallow sandy areas, which connect the islands at a low tide. We camped on Snipe, with beaches on both sides.

On day five, we made the big crossing over Queen Sound to the Simonds and McNaughton Group. We got an early start in order to reach protected waters before the forecast strong afternoon winds. In the McNaughton Group, we paddled along very narrow channels admiring the intertidal life and camped on another sandy beach on Hunter Island near Cultus Sound. This site had a short walk through very impressive old growth forest to another beach.

The following day, we continued south to Triquet Island. Although we were mostly protected from the fairly strong southwest winds by islets and channels, the crossing south of Superstition Point was quite bouncy with refracted waves. We paddled through Spitfire Channel and Spider Anchorage. We camped on Triquet for two nights, enjoying more leisurely day paddles, beach-time and walks on the seventh day.

On the last day the water taxi picked us up, returning paddlers, kayaks and gear to the ferry dock. In the early evening we boarded the ferry back to Port Hardy. We saw humpback whales in Lama Passage and Fitz Hugh Sound.

We expected northwest winds; we got southeast and southwest winds. The unusually hot summer weather changed just before our trip. For a drought, we had quite a bit of rain. However, we cannot complain about the weather. This area is extremely exposed, so we were lucky we had good weather for the big crossings we made. We hoped to also cross notorious Hakai Passage to Calvert Island, but conditions were not favourable. Thanks to satellite technology, we were not forced to make that crossing. The guides used an inReach SE so that they could send text messages via satellite to the water taxi so they could pick us up wherever we happened to end up on the last day.

Other trips would have other weather and interests and take other routes. It’s a big area with lots to see. Incredible white sandy beaches, amazing sculptured granite cliffs along the shore, sea otters, sea lions, big trees, sand hill cranes and more than 20 other birds. Some sun, some rain, some wind, some calm, some swell, some waves, no fog. We saw a few fishing and cruising boats, but very few other kayakers. It’s a great place.

Thanks to the guides for all their hard work watching out for us, the great food, and arranging everything.

Photos by K. Manry, V. van Veen, M. Wood and N. Weimer.

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Trip Report – Mine Lake Bluff 27 Jan 2015

We parked at the trailhead on the Surge Narrows Road and followed the trail to Camp Homewood’s summer campsite. The trail follows the shore of Mine Lake closely and has some lovely views. We knew it would be wet, but in a few places even gumboots weren’t enough and after one person got water over the top, the rest of us bushwhacked through the forest in the wet spots.

There is a sign to the northwest of the camp pointing to the trail up the Bluff. The trail ascends very steeply through the forest and then involves scrambling up rocks and moss to reach to top of the Bluff. This is definitely better done in dry weather since it is somewhat exposed and can be slippery. We were fortunate to have clear skies over Quadra and the views from the top were great. We had a warm and leisurely lunch before exploring the views to the east and west. The group then descended by a flagged trail to the north, which travels under the very impressive cliffs on the west side of the Bluff before re-joining the trail to the camp. We returned to the vehicles, but it was tempting to relax in the sun by Mine Lake for the afternoon. 5.5 km; 3½ hours.

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Mine Lake Bluff – 27 January 2015