Trip Report – Woss Lookout and Huson Caves – 15-17 July 2019

We camped at the Woss Lake Recreation Site, with the group arriving gradually over about 30 hours.  Due to forecast rainy weather, many invested quite a lot of effort in setting up camp with tarps.  Three of us kayaked on Woss Lake Monday morning in calm and increasingly sunny conditions.  We paddled down the east side of the Lake exploring the cabins and boat launch. (about 7 km)  Some also explored the Woss River Trail with some impressive old growth cedar and good views of the river from a bluff. This trail goes a long way, but we only went about 2.8km.   In the afternoon, two more people arrived and the weather turned showery.  We drove logging roads to check out Schoen Lake Provincial Park. We already knew that any possible interesting hiking would involve access by boat, but the deluge of rain when we arrived discouraged any enthusiasm for exploration.  Back at camp, we enjoyed appies by Les’ campfire before dinner.  By Monday night the final two people had arrived and enjoyed an evening canoe paddle, where they found some pictographs.

Tuesday morning:  After Les’ delicious blueberry pancake breakfast, we departed for Woss Lookout.  We parked at the trail sign and hiked up the steep logging road, through some clear cut and into the forested lookout hill. The steep trail is well equipped with rope aids and the distance is quite short, but a good test of fitness.  We were soon rewarded with the restored fire lookout and excellent views, even with a bit of cloud around.  The views of the Schoen, Vernon, Woss and Nimpkish Valleys are impressive, as well as the nearby mountains.  We returned by the short loop and headed back down the steep trail, once again thankful for the ropes. (4.6km, 3½ hours; 400m elevation gain)

Tuesday afternoon: After lunch we continued on to the Little Huson Caves Regional Park.  The short walk through the woods takes you to the sculpted rock of the Atluck Creek working its way though the limestone.  The boardwalk and stairs are very helpful and some have been recently replaced.  We enjoyed views of the Natural Bridge from both entrances, the River Cave, the Atluck Creek and the Bridge Cave.  The green water, scalloped and sculpted rock were beautiful.  (about 2.6km, 1½ hours)  Back at camp, quite a few bathed in the Lake, which wasn’t too cold,

The forecast had consistently called for afternoon showers and we escaped until Tuesday evening, when the real weather was expected.  The rain began lightly after 21:00 and increased and continued all night.  Wednesday morning, five of us made a short paddle on Woss Lake in marginal weather, before taking down the sodden camp gear and heading home.

Thanks to everyone for the food sharing, logging road driving, and general good time.  Having the only serious rain at night was a benefit for seeing this beautiful and not much visited area.

Debbie

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Multi-day Hiking – Woss Lookout and Huson Caves – 15-17 July 2019

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Trip Report – 5040 Peak – 2-4 July 2019

Fabulous.  But first you have to get there.  Everybody know that getting there is half the fun (and getting back is the other half).  It’s reputation proceeded us, notably the bad road and the steep trail.  The Alpine Club site said a 4×4 was required for the Marion Creek logging road, and others discussed whether high clearance was needed.  The logging road in is only 10 km, but most of it is quite rough.  We only expected the last part to be rough.  But there are a number of steep sections, right from the start, and those are always the worst.  We met a car coming out and they had parked before the last hill and walked the last 2 km.  So that’s what we decided to do.  As it turned out, the last 2 km were not that bad, or at least not any worse than the first part.  The vehicles driving in were either 4x4s, pickups, or beaters.

Day 1: The trail isn’t that bad — for the first 300 m, as it goes up through a logged section.  After that, it’s just a path and it goes straight uphill.  No switchbacks.  It’s not walking.  It’s more like climbing stairs and ladders, on rocks and tree roots.  It’s rough, but it’s not bushwacking.  It is steep.  There are two short stretches where a rope aid is provided.  We were climbing in the cloud and it was misty, wet and muggy.  We reached Cobalt Lake, but it was shrouded in the fog.  After that it was a short climb to the hut, also in the cloud.  The hut is very nice.  There was only our group of six the first night, so it was very spacious.  It has a wood pellet stove and solar panels and LED lights.  It seems to be very well insulated, so it was quite warm.  Everything is very well thought out and it is extremely well equipped.  Then in the evening, the surrounding peaks started to emerge and the hut popped into the sunshine, above the clouds.  That’s when we switched to feeling like the Greek gods on Mt. Olympus.  We had a beautiful sunset.  And the stars at night!  No moon, so we saw the Milky Way and everything.  (driving the road – 7.5 km; walking the road – 1.7 km, ½ hour; walking the trail – 3.3 km, 700 m elevation gain, 3½ hours)  (Some others can do it faster)

Day 2: Above the hut is some subalpine and then alpine with lots of rocky ridges to walk.  We went to the top of the 5040 peak, as it was peeking in and out of the cloud and then to some minor peaks along the ridge.  ( 4.1km, 344m elevation gain, 4¼ hours)  The wildflowers were excellent and much ahead of schedule.  The area looks great for further explorations with sufficient time.  It’s quite steep in places, with some hidden cliff bands.  Our walking was somewhat limited by the remaining steep snow bands and maps with insufficient contour detail.  But some in our group ventured out on the ridge toward Triple Peak (2.6 km, 115 m elevation gain, 2 hours) and the short ridge beyond the outhouse (0.6 km, ¼ hour).  Some returned to the summit after dinner, when the cloud level lowered and the views were clearer.  (1.9 km; 220 m elevation gain, 1½ hours)  The views are really impressive, with lots of nearby mountains like Nahmint and Klitsa as well as views as distant as the Golden Hinde.  That afternoon two couples from Comox arrived at the hut and one of those couples got engaged on the 5040 Peak summit.

Day 3: The final day was for the descent.  Nobody was really looking forward to that.  Sometimes it is harder going down.  We stopped at Cobalt Lake, which was beautiful in the morning light, but after that there aren’t any vistas.  The trail parallels, close by, a stream with cascades, waterfalls and canyons for much of the way.  The trail was slippery going down as it had been in the cloud for days.  Poles are highly recommended.  There is one point where the trail turns abruptly, around a big rock, and almost everybody misses that turn and continues straight down into the forest.  They catch on sooner or later as the trail fades out.  What you think of the trail to the hut will depend on your fitness, but Cobalt Lake, the hut and the 5040 alpine area make it all worth while.

Norris

Thanks to Norris and Stephen for the photos

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Multi-day Hiking – 5040 Peak – 22-4 July 2019

Multi-day Hiking – Woss Lookout and Huson Caves – 15-17 July 2019

This trip has been moved up a day due to weather.

Activity Multi-day campground-based hiking
Destination Woss Lookout and Huson Caves
Date 15-17 July 2019, Monday-Wednesday
Trip Coordinator Debbie Quigg
Contact Info debbie.quigg@ualberta.ca or 3710.  Please let the coordinator know as soon as possible for detailed information about this trip.
Description The details of this trip will depend on those that participate.  At a minimum, we will visit the Woss Lookout and the Huson Caves.  For more detail see the 2018 trip report: https://qioutdoorclub.org/2018/07/27/trip-report-woss-lookout-little-huson-caves-26-july-2018/   We may also visit other convenient areas of interest such as the White River Provincial Park.
It may also be possible to join the group and do some of this as a day-trip.
Meeting Place The destination campground will be the Woss Lake Recreation Site
Departure Time Flexible
Difficulty Varied: Woss Lookout is short, but steep.  The Huson Caves are easy.
Cost Transportation costs (ferries, fuel)
Trip limits 10
Dogs? No
Notes:

Multi-day Hiking – 5040 Peak – 2-4 July 2019

Activity Multi-day hut-based hiking
Destination 5040 Peak
Date 2-4 July 2019, Tuesday to Thursday
Trip Coordinator Norris Weimer
Contact Info norris.weimer@ualberta.ca or 3710.  Please contact the coordinator as soon as possible if you are interested. Anyone joining after June 25th may need to make their own transportation and food arrangements.
Description We will hike up to the new Alpine Club of Canada hut on Tuesday and stay two nights.  This should give us a day and a half  to explore this alpine area with great views.  The hike up climbs 700 m in about 2.5 km following the Cobalt Trail.  There are two sections with fixed ropes.
Meeting Place Quadra ferry terminal to Campbell River
Departure Time TBD, probably early
Difficulty The hike up will be strenuous
Cost Transportation costs (ferries, fuel)  The cost for the hut is $25/night for a non-Alpine Club member.
Trip limits Available beds in the hut
Dogs? No
Notes: Each participant needs to make their own arrangements to stay at the hut.  There are only 12 beds, so don’t put it off if you are interested.  For hut availability check:
https://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca
To book, phone:
403-678-3200 ext 0 between 8:30 am and 9:30 pm

Natural History – Caving near Sayward – 25 June 2019

Activity Natural History – Caving
Destination Sayward area caves
Date 25 June 2019, Tuesday
Trip Coordinator Cyndy Chidley
Contact Info Cyndy Chidley: 250-285-3575.  Please let the coordinator know as soon as possible if you are interested.
Description Moderate caving on north Vancouver Island with Bill West-Sells as our guide.  We will meet Bill at Sayward and drive to the cave area from there.  Challenges may include bridging, climbing, stretching, wriggling, not to mention small, dark, wet places.  We will be going to caves we have not visited before.  We will walk for about half an hour through brush to reach the cave.  Make sure you read the notes below on what to bring.  We will need some 4-wheel-drive vehicles some clearance as the end of the road is quite steep.
Meeting Place Q Cove ferry terminal
Departure Time 9:00 ferry to Campbell River; if you are driving come early to avoid the overload
Difficulty Moderate
Costs Ferry and shared gas
Trip limits 12 people or enough 4-wheel-drive vehicles
Dogs? No
Notes:
Wear rubber boots, neoprene socks or booties, or wool socks with runners that you don’t mind getting wet.  The water will be cold.  Bring coveralls, a helmet that you are able to fit with head light, and a head light, if you have one.  Bill has some extras that he will bring.  Flexible gloves, if you have them. A change of shoes and socks with a small towel.  Bring a backpack, as we will walk for a half hour to the cave entrance.   Also lunch and water.  If you have a walkie-talkie or family radio, please bring it with charged batteries.

Trip Report – Ripple Rock Trail – 17 April 2019

Four of us were lucky to have a dry day between monsoon-like rains.  Everywhere we went there were signs of spring.  We started out from the trailhead on the wide trail down to a creek edged with big Sitka spruce and pink fawn lilies.  The trail narrows as it approaches Menzies Bay and then undulates through lovely, open-understory forest and bluffs with views of the Bay and Vancouver Island.  In between the array of spring flowers, we admired some great old-growth Douglas fir trees.  The wooden bridges and stairs were often in need of maintenance, and the trail is quite busy by our standards.  We climbed the big stairs to the overlook of Seymour Narrows and stopped there for lunch. It wasn’t a really big current, but we watched the flood increase before heading back the way we had come.  We were accompanied much of the way by a cheerful, high-energy dog, who we finally convinced to follow another group back to its owner.  9 km; 4 hours.

Debbie

Thanks to Norris and Les for the photos

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Hiking – Ripple Rock Trail – 17 April 2019

Trip Report – Cowichan Valley – 7-11 Apr 2019

None of the 10 of us had spent much time in Cowichan Valley so this trip was exploratory. The weather was marginal, but we were lucky enough to never get wet. Some in the group had injuries, so not everyone was able to participate in the outings. We could see the evidence of the hugely destructive storm that hit the area in December 2018, but every trail we hiked had been well maintained. Spring was blooming out all over and the wildflowers were excellent.
Sunday – We met at the Duncan Market around noon before continuing to the vacation rental on Shawnigan Lake, where most of us were staying.  After settling in, we went for a hike at Cobble Hill mountain.  We hiked a loop (Squirrel, Frog, Buck, and Turtle) up to the summit ridge with great views in nearly all directions.  It was a good introduction to the area with views of the Saanich Peninsula, Cowichan Bay, Mt. Tzouhalem, and the agricultural land in the Valley. 5.4 km; 2¼ hours. Back at the house, we had a great meal, celebrated a birthday, and sang to the accompaniment of guitars.

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Monday – The weather was less promising as we set out from the rather obscure trailhead to Fern Grotto. We started on an old logging road that segued to a quite new trail through open forest with lots of maples, moss, and ferns. We reached the impressive Kinsol Trestle and had lunch before hiking out and back on the Jack Fleetwood trail. The Koksilah River and the fawn lilies were lovely. The group preferred to hike back to the house along the Cowichan Valley Trail, rather than retrace our route to the vehicles. We narrowly escaped heavy rain, returning to the vacation rental just in time. 14.7 km; 4¾ hours. We had another wonderful meal followed by games and reading.

Tuesday – We had a sunny day for our bike trip on the Cowichan Valley Trail/Great Trail from Glenora to the end of the trail toward Cowichan Lake and back. Les opted to hike the Cowichan River Footpath nearby. Those who didn’t own bikes rented e-bikes, which was entertaining and easy. We later learned that this is the roughest section of the Cowichan Valley Trail, so we spent more time looking where the tire was headed than at the scenery. The forest was lovely and open, with creeks, wetlands (even a turtle) and, of course, trestles and the Cowichan River. 46.0 km; 5¼ hours. We had yet another great dinner and more music.

Wednesday – The weather improved through the day. We hiked at Mt. Tzouhalem starting at the Kaspa parking lot and following the view trails at the edge of the escarpment. The meadows of shooting star wildflowers were a treat, as were the views of the Cowichan Valley. We stopped for lunch near the cross and then continued along the cliffs to the edge of the reserve before following logging roads, with a view of Salt Spring Island and Samson Narrows, back to the car. This area is a complex web of unmarked paths, and it’s good to go with a map, GPS or app to avoid getting lost. 9.9 km; 4¼ hours.  Although rather late in the day, a few people opted to continue on to the Koksilah Ancient Forest Reserve. After a bit of trouble finding the trailhead, the blue flagging got us to the grove of fine old trees along the river. We would have liked to have spent more time there. 4.3 km; 1 hour. For our last night, we went out to dinner at the Village Chippery, which was very popular with locals and very good.

Thursday – The dark skies only produced drizzle on the hike near Cedar, taking the Cable Bay Trail to Joan Point and Dodd Narrows. This is a popular trail with locals. It’s wide and smooth and trends down to the ocean. The trail along the coast is lovely with great views of the sandstone shoreline typical of the southern Gulf Islands. The spring flowers were excellent with lots of fawn lilies. The current was not running strongly in Dodd Narrows, but the low tide provided inter-tidal viewing. 6.5 km; 1¾ hours.

Debbie

Multi-day Hiking – Cowichan Valley – 7-11 Apr 2019