Trip Report – McKenzie and Douglas Lakes – 26 Sept 2018

Eight of us and a dog set out on a beautiful, crystal clear fall day to visit Douglas and McKenzie Lakes on the Forbidden Plateau in Strathcona Park.  The short way to get there involves an half hour, 6.3 km drive on a rough old logging road.  We made it and then walked 700 m into the park on a rough but easy trail through old growth trees and blueberries.

At this point it is necessary to cross the outlet stream from McKenzie Lake.  It turned out that the Lake level was a few inches higher than expected and the puddle jumping rocks were under water.  At this obstacle, five people and the dog decided to go up to Paradise Meadows, leaving three to continue to the Lakes as planned.

Having found a dry way across the creek using rocks and logs, we arrived at the sunny side of the stream, the path was found and the lakes were beautiful, the meadows were beautiful and the weather was beautiful.  So after lunch at McKenzie Lake, we explored the trail towards the main area of Paradise Meadows via Kwai and other Lakes.  The trail gains some elevation, follows a sequence of small lakes and was in unexpectedly good condition.  Now we want to come back and do the whole trail from Raven Lodge to the old ski area beyond Mt. Becher.  We saw a Western Toad, maybe a toadlet, grouse and a glimpse of sandhill cranes migrating south.  11.8 km, 5¼ hours.

The alternate group hiked the Battleship Lake – Helen MacKenzie Lake loop and said it was great.


Reporting from Paradise Meadows and beyond –   On a perfect fall day, we began with the intent of hiking to Douglas and MacKenzie Lakes, and enjoyed the drive and short hike in. Then, deciding to eschew the fun of wading across the high water in the creek in our bare feet, five of us, and one dog, decided to walk in Paradise Meadows instead. We had a lovely, brisk walk around the Battleship Loop with a brief lunch stop in the Meadows, alive with the vibrant fall colours. The views across the lakes were astounding. We enjoyed chatting with some of the overseas visitors we met on our perambulation.  10.5 km


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Hiking – McKenzie and Douglas Lakes – 26 Sept 2018


Hiking – McKenzie and Douglas Lakes – 26 Sept 2018

Activity Hiking
Destination McKenzie and Douglas Lakes
Date 26 Sept 2018, Wednesday
Trip Coordinator Norris Weimer
Contact Info or 3710.   Please contact the coordinator in advance of the trip.
Description McKenzie and Douglas Lakes in Strathcona Park are approached from logging roads off of the road to Mt. Washington.  The 6 km drive each way is rougher than the hiking.  The hike is quite short (about 6 km return) and goes through forest and meadows to two lakes.  This isn’t Helen Mackenzie Lake and this area is not busy.  We can hike further or add other destinations, if this goes quickly.
Meeting Place We will take the 8:00 Quadra ferry.  Rides to be arranged in advance.
Departure Time Drivers need to be early enough to get on the ferry
Costs Share gas and ferry costs
Trip limits Vehicles willing to drive the logging road may limit the number of participants
Dogs? Would need to be on a leash at all times
Notes: Bring lunch and appropriate clothing for altitude of 900 m.

Trip Report – Forbidden Plateau and Cruikshank Canyon – 27 Aug 2018

This was an unscheduled, impromptu trip.  We took advantage of a break in the weather for a tour of the lakes on the Forbidden Plateau and at the last minute decided to push on to Cruickshank Canyon.  The day was cloudless, with a reasonable summer temperature, and a bit of smoke haze on the horizon.  We caught the 7:05 ferry and were hiking shortly after 8:30.  We hiked the lake loop clockwise, arriving first at Battleship, then Lady, Croteau and Kwai Lakes.  We explored the excellent new group campground at Croteau, complete with yurt cooking shelter, and had lunch at Kwai.  We hiked the spur to Mariwood and Beautiful (well named) Lakes and continued to Cruikshank Canyon.  The haze was most noticeable across the canyon, but the viewpoint drop-off is always impressive.  We stopped at Mariwood Lake on the return and Julie swam in the cold water, before hiking up to the Ranger station and on to Helen Mackenzie Lake.

This is truly a spectacular sub-alpine hike.  We were very pleased that there was no apparent drought on the plateau.  The lake levels were reasonable and the meadows still green and lush.  The wild blueberries were delicious and definitely extended the time it took to do the trip.  22.1 km; 8¼ hours.


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Reconnaissance Report – Mt. McBride – 20-24 July 2018

This was my fifth trip to the marble Meadows – Mt. McBride area. Not having the opportunity to complete the round trip up to Mt. McBride on earlier trips, I returned this time with the main goal of summiting the peak. This was a solo trip.
Provision must be made for crossing Buttle Lake from the Augerpoint picnic area, where cars can be left, to Phillips Creek Marine Campsite, where canoes, and kayaks can be stashed. I left my kayak half hidden in the bushes and cable locked it to a tree. Most people don’t bother with this precaution. It must be mentioned that in the summer, with a stabilized high, winds can whitecap the lake after 1 pm. Canoeists must be comfortable with this or wait for calmer conditions.
I headed up the well worn trail at roughly 5 pm from an elevation of 250 meters. After 3.2 km., water is reached at the 840 meter mark. This was about 1½ hours in. The trail crisscrosses a steep pitch at about 1200 meters, where there are a few blow downs. Nothing insurmountable, but one does have to leave the trail to bypass them. Easier on the descent. As this trail’s traffic is much less than Bedwell or Flower Ridge, trail repairs sometime take years. This section had the most flower activity, with rhododendron, tiger lily, mountain valerian, columbine and lupins in abundance. Flower activity was finished, largely, up in the meadows. The Marble Meadows lakes area was reached after 3½ hours, at just over 1400 meters. This is where I camped for the evening. Bugs were bad, and a net hat comes in very handy.
I left camp the next morning at around 8 am, for the almost leisurely 1¼ hour walk to the Wheaton Hut. This is a beautiful subalpine route past incredible tarns with Marble Mtn. looming from above. As one looks down on the first lake, the lower trail to Wheaton is evident. This is much more enjoyable than the higher treed route that parallels to the north. Stay down in the open, as this is where the scenery is.
As I was planning to have an easy day in advance of the next day’s all-day trip to McBride, I set up camp down at Wheaton Lake, below the hut. Someone has put a mosquito net in the door of the hut, to provide relief for some, but I decided the gorgeous setting of the lake, with Morrison Spire as a backdrop, was a far superior spot.
The next morning, I was on the trail at 7:45 for the 10 hour return trip up Mt. McBride. This is a long commitment, and an equally pleasing shorter alternative trip is Morrison Spire. This trip is far less gruelling regarding both distance and route finding, and provides a great ”above all” vantage point of the area. From Wheaton, one continues west along the side of the ridge behind the hut. This is a well worn route until it descends a small valley prior to ascending over the limestone band before the ascent up the summit ridge, where one can head south to Morrison Spire or north to McBride. The route through the limestone band is marked with cairns, but a GPS or compass and map, are handy for getting the general direction to the logical ascent to the summit Ridge. At this point, one is still on the Philips Watershed Route. There were only smaller patches of snow, but lots of water sources before climbing up to the ridge. There was some melting snow on the ridge, but this will lessen, as it was now only mid summer. Remember to look for fossils in the limestone area, as it was under the ocean some 250 million years ago. Quite striking when you compare this to its present alpine state.
I headed north on the ridge towards McBride. At one point as the ridge meets the base of McBride, one loses some altitude. At this point I maintained this elevation on a worn route that skirts the mountain towards the north side with the objective of hiking up the north snowfield. Since the snowfields were well melted and separated by rock bands, I started heading up hill at the last visible rock band that had been visible when I first started traversing the mountain. I started heading up on rock and eventually arrived just below some false summits on the southwest ridge of McBride. Traversing around to the north at this point brought me to the south summit at 2081 meters. This is not technical, but can require some scrambling with use of hands. The reward was a breathtaking 360 view and direct view at the northeast aspect of the Golden Hinde. As I was lunching, a helicopter circled around, eventually landing below the approach ridge. My curiosity was piqued, as no landings are permitted without a permit or an emergency. It took me 5½ hours to reach the peak from Wheaton (and 4 ¼ hours to descend).
On the way down the ridge, I couldn’t believe my ears: a marmot whistle the first I have ever heard in this area! Then I ran into one of the marmot researchers who had choppered in. They had set up a camp on the edge of the limestone area and were radio tagging the marmots. These had been introduced into the area, with the addition of another individual, several years later, to help the growth of the population. Very cool! I continued my 4 hour plus hike back down.
That night, back down at Wheaton Lake, I had another reward repeated for a second night: “Mars shine”. I was close enough to the end of the month where Mars was the closest to earth it has been for 15 years (when I had previously seen the spectacle while camping on Catala Island, on the west coast). Mars was very orange red and big enough to produce a ray of orange light on Wheaton Lake.
Next day, I left in the late morning for a 3 hour hike back down to my kayak, and the Buttle Lake crossing.

Brent Henry

Please note, this was not an official trip and the report is provided for information.

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Trip Report – Woss Lookout & Little Huson Caves – 26 July 2018

The original plan was to hike to Woss Lookout in the morning to beat the extreme summer heat. But, unexpectedly, when we drove north on Highway 19, it was overcast and quite cool, so we continued on to the Little Huson Caves first. These karst features in Quatsino limestone are very beautifully sculpted into complex shapes with the Atluk Creek running through it. We took the short walk to the northern viewpoint first and explored the big opening in the natural bridge over the River “Cave”. The trail also leads to the south opening of the bridge with even more opportunity to see the sculpted limestone. With the low water and dry weather there are lots of possibilities for exploring. We also visited the Bridge Cave before walking to Little Huson Lake.

We then drove south to the rough logging road leading to the Woss Lookout trailhead. Once the skies cleared at noon, it was already hot. We walked up the upper logging road switchbacks and then took the trail through the forest up to the summit. This is a short, steep hike with lots of rope available for assistance. There were wonderful blueberries and purple huckleberries on the way up. At the summit we enjoyed the excellent restoration of the lookout tower, a very refreshing afternoon breeze, and fantastic view in nearly 360°. The historical photos from 1948 are very interesting. The location of the tower was great as a fire lookout, but also for views. The conical hill is a focus for five valleys. For the hike: 4.4 km; 2¾ hours; 376 m elevation gain; 35% incline in the steep section.


Thanks to Norris and Les for the photos, which were updated on August 25th.

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Hiking – Woss Lookout & Little Huson Caves – 27 July 2018

Trip Report – Crest Mountain- 25 July 2018

The weather forecast was for hot, hot, hot, and the Crest Mountain trail is south facing and up, up, up, so not everyone thought doing this hike as scheduled was a good idea.  Nevertheless, three of us decided to do it anyway, although we did change the start time to the first ferry, which was a good move.  The drive to the trailhead was very scenic in the morning light.  The trail was cool in the open mature forest in the shadow of a ridge.  We moved uphill quickly.  In 4 km the trail gains 1,100 m elevation.  It starts out as a nice engineered trail with switchbacks, but as it goes up it gets steeper until near the top it is just an uphill trail.

Views and wildflowers start to appear near the top of the climb and there is a small refreshing lake at the rim.  From here on, the mountain top is relatively flat and alpine.  There are small lakes and tarns, hills and ridges, and fantastic views all around. There is a first summit with a radio cone and a higher summit a kilometre or half an hour further on, with a suitable cairn, but the trails to it are indistinct.

The temperature when we left the trailhead was 17°C, the temperature on the summit was 20°C, with a light breeze, and when we got back to the car, it was 30°C.  Going down this trail is just as hard and slow as going up due to the steep, slippery gravel.  14.3 km; 9 hours; 1,235 m elevation gain; the average incline of the climb is 21%, and in the steepest section it is 34%.


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Hiking – Crest Mountain – 25 July 2018

Trip Report – Broken Eyes Mtn- 19 July 2018

Eight members and one guest from Sweden took the 8 am ferry and drove 20 km north of Campbell River to the Broken Eyes trailhead.  The trail is an easy grade for the first bit, then it crosses a stream on a long, one-log bridge, then it climbs steadily.  There is a viewpoint (facing north) part way up which makes a nice rest stop before resuming the climb.  Eventually the trail joins an old logging road with an easier grade.  The final viewpoint (facing south) is good for a long, relaxing lunch, and the views are great.  After the hot dusty trail, we adjourned to Roberts Lake where some had a quick, refreshing swim.  7.4 km; 5 hours; 510 m elevation gain.


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Thanks to Norris and Les for the  photos

Hiking – Broken Eyes Mtn – 19 July 2018