Shadowfax, Gandalf and Aragorn Oct 8-10 2014

Shadowfax – Oct 8th 2014 On the UBC Varsity Outdoors Club site it states that the use of the Brian Waddington Hut (an area called Phelix Creek near Birkenhead Provincial park – an hour + drive past Pemberton) is discouraged from August 15-October 15 every year because although use is not prohibited during this time it is discouraged as it may be a disruption to the bear feeding activities. We wanted to check out the area in mid September, but decided against it to respect this voluntary closure. We figured it was days away from October 15th and it was a choice of now while the weather permitted, or wait until next summer. So off we went. We have a Rav4 AWD and so we managed to get the vast majority of the way to the trailhead. We parked before a major waterbar and just before the last bridge before the trailhead. I took my shoes and socks off to walk through the water (it was brrrrrrr freezing cold). Shawn walked along a log that was placed to the left of the below picture, it was high enough that a drop would have ended badly and I’m not a fan of crossing on logs.


The trail was overgrown and flattish along the valley, a minor bushwack in parts. Then it began to become a steep uphill and quite the slog with overnight backpacks.

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We crossed a metal temporary bridge to the right of the lake (there was a sign that said to take it down when the snow hits because it would not make it through the winter), which I did not enjoy one bit! It was quite narrow, a drop would have been wet, hurt a lot (probably broken bones) and it was shaky. I shuffled along it very slowly. Shawn of course walked across it like it was nothing. We could see the Brian Waddington Hut across the lake. The reflections of the mountains in the lake were awesome!

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We got there in 3 hours from the trailhead. The hut was awesome! What a great place. Thank you UBC Varsity Outdoors Club for putting this hut in and maintaining it!


We quickly dropped all our overnight gear, packed up our day packs and headed off to do our first peak, Shadowfax! It was a steep bushwack up to the left of a waterfall, we did come across trail up intermittently. Once we got to a lake, we found some cairns and followed benches up. It was steep and wasn’t too bad a scramble. Definitely had to lift myself up in some parts. It seemed to take forever to get to the top (2.5 hours from the hut up). We saw a ptarmigan on the way up. DSC02078 DSC03669 DSC03671 DSC03672 DSC03679 DSC03687DSC02141 DSC02149 DSC02152 DSC02159DSC03697 DSC03702DSC03708 DSC03722DSC03730 DSC03744DSC03750 DSC02176 DSC02180 DSC02189

We headed back down to the hut just as it became dark. The view from the hut as night fell: DSC03766

We made some dinner, and off to bed we went. It was a warm night, no freezing my butt off! Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 7.32.11 PM Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 7.30.36 PM

Mount Gandalf and Mount Aragorn Oct 9th 

Next morning we found that mice had gone through the stuff we’d left on the table. They were obviously looking for food, unsuccessfully cause we left nothing out. They did poop in our plates, which was annoying. We figured they were making their way into the hut through a crack on the bottom of the front door. We witnessed one wiggle it’s way in through there and when we put a cardboard into the hole overnight, a mouse had tried to niggle its way out that way (so must be the only way in and out for them). We had breakfast and two day hikers who were going to check out the lake below Shadowfax came by. We headed along a faint trail to a long lake and then it was a boulder field all the way up. I carefully boulder hopped up, scurrying after Shawn. There was one point we thought it was going to pour rain (it only drizzled) and we found an overhang to hide under.  Thankfully, the weather became much nicer after the minor drizzle.

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I did not enjoy this “crux” (two photos below) very much but I felt relatively safe as the trail was wide enough so the drop on either side wasn’t so apparent.

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We carried on to Aragorn, which was basically an easy hike there, though it was steep and a bit of a slog. We had lunch at the top of Aragorn. I was so happy to tuck into my sandwich, banana and an apple.

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We had read a trip report from another hiker who said the col between Mount Aragorn and Mount Gandalf was “unpleasant” and would have chosen another route down. So, we headed north after Aragorn to see if we could find an alternate way down. There was another route; however, it meant some dodgy scrambling moves. Views from the alternate way down were amazing. DSC03878 DSC03881 DSC03882 DSC03883

So, because of the over my head scramble moves needed, we turned back to the col to give it a try. It was extremely steep, with slippery sand. The other alternative was to go back up Mount Gandalf and go back the way we came. We were running out of daylight. So down we went. Shawn had to coax me and instruct me on every step. I am not ashamed to admit it, but I shed some tears. I was absolutely terrified. I never want to take a route like this again! One could argue that I successfully made it down in one piece and that I “did it” and well done. But, frankly, that was way over my head. It was not fun and it’s not something I want to do again. It sucked! Someone who wrote about their own descent experience online called it a “dirt and boulder hell chute straight to mordor”

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After the ugly descent we crossed boulder fields and meadows to the hut. We witnessed a very large rock dislodging from the top of a mountain nearby tumbling down. It was loud and amazing to watch it catch speed as it descended.


We made it down to the hut quite quickly, just minutes before it got pretty dark. Had dinner, went to bed in our sleeping bags.

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Next morning we packed up and hiked on out. It only took us just a little over 2 hours back down to our car!

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These two days exploring this area for the first time were incredible. Beautiful in all directions, the terrain was challenging and fun (except for a few spots) and I loved it. Highly recommend anyone checking it out.  One thing I must add before I close is that I would not have been able to do these hikes without Shawn. He was there to give me encouragement when I was scared and to offer guidance on safest routes up and down. He’s basically a goat when we hike and I’m the scardy cat – quite the contrast in abilities. I’ve been able to venture far outside my comfort zone and see mountains I never would have otherwise seen thanks to him and I appreciate that more than he knows!


Jim Kelly, Illal Peak and Spiral Peak Sept 27-28 2014

Sept 27 2014 – Jim Kelly and Illal Peak

Had always wanted to check out Illal Meadows which is off the Coquihalla Hwy, near a number of popular hikes (e.g. Needle Peak). We headed off and got onto Tulameen Forest Service Road and after 19 kms we reached a deactivated road, decided to see what our Rav4 could do so we headed up it. We went for 2kms and found a good spot to park. There was still another km of road, but we didn’t want to risk it as by then the road had gotten too dodgy. Because it was starting to get dark, we slept in the car (the night of Sept 26th). We were up and on our way the next morning at 8am. 1kms walk along the road, then it was flat for a little while longer – then it got steep.

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In 2 1/2 hours we were at Illal Meadows. We put our tent up and had lunch.  It was around noon by now. We noticed two young guys and one of their dad’s hike by, they were on their way up Jim Kelly.  About 10 mins later we were on the trail heading up Jim Kelly as well. For me it was scary on a lot of levels. Shawn helped find the safest route up. It was no longer hiking, it was scrambling. I was using my hands to haul myself up quite a bit and the rock would give way under my feet. The scariest part was that at times, I was above the dad of the other group hiking up and I worried that I’d loosen rocks that would descend down onto his head. I had bought a helmet awhile back which I brought with me and put on, as there were others ahead of me who could loosen rocks that could tumble down. I felt like I was a “professional” with that helmet on. Like I was an expert or something. The truth is, I was frightened and scared out of my mind. But one thing I try to always do and that is to push myself through fear. It’s only when I push my boundaries that I find myself growing as a person. Of course, having said that – there are some boundaries that I won’t push. If this mountain had been any steeper than it was, I would have probably passed on going up it. As it was, it was beyond my current mental ability to do – but only just… so I pushed myself through it, but any more than that and I would definitely have taken a pass.

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I was so excited to make Jim Kelly peak!! I was very proud of myself. The descent was slow going. Once down, we headed off to Illal peak, which to be honest, was very simple. Just a hike. We were there in about an hour after making it down from Jim Kelly. Beautiful scenery everywhere!

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Sept 28 2014 Spiral Peak

We had planned to do Coquihalla Mountain, but decided we’d give Spiral Peak a go first. First some beautiful sunrise shots that Shawn took:

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We walked by a few tarns and then we ended up on side stepping on a mountain (Illal Mountain being one of them) going over a boulder field as we headed towards Spiral Peak. The beautiful Fall colours were everywhere, it was stunning up there. DSC02674DSC01703 DSC01704 DSC01705 DSC01708DSC01712 DSC01713 DSC01720 DSC01722 DSC01725 DSC01727 DSC01731DSC02689

We reached the steep slippery rock field up to the peak. On the way up, I asked Shawn who was further ahead, if he thought it might be over my head and that maybe I should stop and wait for him there. He said “take a few steps up and give it a try and decide then”, he encouraged me to keep going. Which I did. I was scared for sure and there were points where it crossed my mind that I might slip and slide down the side of the mountain. I kept aiming on a route up where there were obstacles (dead trees on their side, stumps) that would stop me sliding all the way down. Honestly, I don’t know where it came from – but I got emotional when I got up and down this mountain. I had initially figured when I had first started going up, that I would not make it – and the fact I did (with encouragement from Shawn of course) meant a lot to me. It was another day of pushing my limits. I was very proud of myself.

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Once we got down, we headed straight across the valley and followed a goat trail much of the way, with a little bit of bushwacking. Shawn took a quick dip in one of the tarns and we had a leisurely lunch in the sun. It was so awesome! DSC02744 DSC02745  Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 12.08

Because we ran out of time, we decided we’d save Coquihalla Mountain to another time. A really memorable two days for sure!! Loved it. Can’t wait to go back!

Mount Webb and Macdonald Peak Sept 16 2014

This turned out to be one heck of an epic hike!!!

At 4am we headed off to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. We saw that the gate was closed from 10pm-8am and figured we’d be back well before 10pm and it just so happened the gate was open, so we went in and parked in the day parking area (it’s just before the boat launch). It was still dark, but it was starting to get light. We started off on our hike at 6.05am. We went over the footbridge over the Chilliwack River. It was a flattish trail along the river and then we started to switchback up. We went over rooty trail, pebbly trail, under logs, over logs, swampy/muddy bits of the trail, there were two stream crossings where you walked over planks or a log. There were sections of devils club, some of the trail was overgrown. It was STEEP. After 8.5kms we were at Radium Lake.

The trail to Radium Lake

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Radium Lake

At Radium lake they have a few bear caches and they’re putting in pit toilets. We took a 15 min break at Radium Lake and then headed up to the col between Mount Webb and Macdonald Peak (took us about 1 and 1/4 hour to get there). We reached a scree and made our way up. Last time we were here, there was snow! There was a lot of sand I kept slipping on, so I stuck to stepping on rocks as much as I could.

The trail past Radium Lake up to the Col between Mount Webb and Macdonald Peak:

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We got to the col at 10.30am. Last year it had taken us 6 hours, this time it took us 4 1/2 hours! We took a 15 minute break at the col and then headed up Mount Webb. It wasn’t an easy hike up. Lots of slippery stones and loose sand. Had to use my hands to lift myself up in sections. I never felt like I was in danger as there was no exposure. It took 45 mins to get to the top of Mount Webb.

Mount Webb, views around and on our way up!

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Top of Mount Webb!! It was spectacular up there. Just stunning.

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It took just as long to get down as it did up, cause of all the slippery parts

So, off we went to Macdonald Peak. There was a trail in the first part and then some cairns to follow. Shawn just went straight up to the right of a permanent snowfield. I followed the cairns up to the ridge. I believe it is possible to just scramble straight up to Macdonald Peak, but we went around the back of Macdonald Peak. We boulder hopped there. Then we scrambled up.

On the way to Macdonald Peak

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This bit (photo below) did not appeal to me, so I scrambled down and tried to find away around this. Except I ended up at a spot where I had to cross loose sand, and it was exposed. What went through my mind was – an image of me slipping and then trying to grasp at the sand to stop myself as I slid down and off the cliff. So, I went back and climbed up the same spot Shawn had gone up. Shawn was there to give me a hand.


We made it to Macdonald Peak at 3pm. So it had taken us 9 hours. I was so tired when we got to the top, I could barely chew my food. It crossed my mind to just lie down there and sleep. I knew that if I actually went to sleep, I would probably not wake up until the next day. There were views in all directions. I thought the view from Mount Webb was pretty darn amazing, but the views from Macdonald Peak were even better. We hung out until 3.45pm and then started heading down. We noticed a way down that completely avoided scrambling (went around it) , there were even cairns and for me it was much easier (wish I’d seen this route on the way up)

Macdonald Peak!

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Heading back down

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We were at the col at around 5pm. Headed down as quickly as we could. Shawn picked a handful of blueberries for me which were along the bounder field on the way down. For anyone wondering: there was lots of water on this hike (from the trailhead to the boulder field before the col) We had to hike in the dark with our headlamps for the last hour and half (the sun went down at 7.20pm and we walked in twilight for another half hour or so before we used our lights). We were back at our car at 9.30pm (it would have sucked if we were any later and got locked in there!). I collapsed in a heap into the car! That is the longest hike I’ve ever done. 15 1/2 hours!!!!

31 kms, 2200 meters elevation gain.

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Shawn could have probably done Mount Webb, Macdonald Peak and Mount Corriveau (nearby) in significantly less time than it took us to do Mount Webb and Macdonald Peak together. I so appreciate that he stuck with me, gave me a hand when I needed it, told me I was doing great and helped me push my boundaries, when he could have been pushing his. Very thankful!

I’m so sore and waddling around but it was so worth it. What a memorable hike/scramble. Love being up in the mountains.

Cathedral Provincial Park Sept 3-6 2014

Had never been to Cathedral Provincial Park before, so decided we’d check it out. The night before I called the Cathedral Lodge to book a truck up to Quiniscoe Lake. The lady who took the booking said there was no snow, no bears, no one up there and suggested bringing a cooler. Turns out she was wrong about everything. There was snow, there were bears (we didn’t see them but there was a notice that two adult bears were seen near Scout Lake), there were people camping and the cooler idea (a suggestion we took to heart) was not ideal to bring (can’t exactly haul that up into a tree!).

Packed up and headed off to check it out. We drove through Manning Park and then just before Keremeos headed down Ashnola River road for 30 mins, until we were at a gate. The gate was opened and we parked. We took the $90 (return) truck up to Quiniscoe Lake (where the lodge and camp site is). It took an hour of steep climbing. Shawn met a guy at Quiniscoe Lake when we got there who had hiked up and said it was the steepest hike he’d ever done and he was beat up (so glad we took the truck!) They must be making a killing at $90 a person. We heard they were taking 60 UBC students up on Monday (so glad we didn’t go then, as the campsite would have been a zoo). Pretty good take for one day I must say! They’ve definitely got a captive audience as hiking up there the 16 kms steep uphill is a tough slog.

It was late in the day (5ish) when we got there, so we put the tent up had dinner and hung out for awhile. It was FREEZING!!! Below 0 degrees.  I tossed and turned all night, cause I was shivering. I had long johns on and several layers.


DAY 1 – Glacier Lake Trail to Rim Trail to close to Grimface Mountain to Ladyslipper Trail back to Quiniscoe Lake

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Got packed up and headed to Glacier Lake, and then up to Rim trail. Beautiful in every direction. We headed towards Grimface Mountain. It was a bit of a scramble after Smokey the bear. Somehow we missed the sign for the Giant Cleft (we saw it on the way back and checked it out). When we got to pretty close to Grimface, Shawn looked at it to see if the conditions were good to scramble up. There was quite a bit of snow on the ledges and so he determined it wasn’t ideal. So, we just had some lunch and enjoyed the 360 views. We headed back and then turned off to the Ladyslipper trail. That was one steep descent! Very fun day for sure. Enjoyed a nice camp dinner and headed to bed. By this time we were totally surrounded by a big group camping, and they stayed up pretty late!

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DAY 2 – The Boxcar and Lakeview Mountain

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After another cold night (not as cold as the first night) we packed up and took the Goat Lake trail to the Boxcar. It was a scramble up. When we neared the top, I hyperventilated in total fear, it was slippery (snow/ice) it felt exposed to me, like one wrong step could lead to disaster. Yes, I’m a chicken! Shawn gave me a hand up and calmed me down. Note: I took a different route down that was not as scary. Thinking we might have veered off the safest route up a bit. It was awesome up there!! just beautiful. Then we headed down and up to Lakeview Mountain. Saw a marmot.. still hadn’t seen any goats unfortunately. Once we’d scrambled up to Lakeview Mountain, it was a nice trail down through meadow. Awesome sunny day. Loved it. Was pretty beat up once we got to the campsite. Had dinner and crashed pretty early.

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DAY 3 – Red Mountain and Quiniscoe Mountain

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Shawn woke me up at 6am to let me know he was heading off to Pyramid Mountain. I had seen part of the scramble from the Rim trail on day 1 and had decided it was over my head (too much exposure for me!). We had booked the 1pm truck back down to our car so I was wide awake and had a ton of time to kill. It just so happened that I ran into the park ranger and asked him how exactly one would get up to Red Mountain. The day before he had said he’d done the trail to Red Mountain, Quiniscoe and down the glacier trail in 3 hours. He suggested I go to Red Mountain and then scramble down to Quiniscoe Lake at the col between Red Mountain and Quiniscoe Mountain, especially as I was pressed for time. That became my general plan. I packed up and headed off. I know this isn’t a big deal to most people, but to me it is – this was my first proper hike alone. I have always been paranoid about “what happens if I get hurt and I’m alone”, especially in more remote places with no phone reception. But this time, I just went for it. I told the park ranger to let Shawn know where I was. I made lots of noise on the Scout Lake trail (so bears knew I was there) then headed up to Red Mountain. To my surprise, after a nice meadow trail, it became a scramble over large boulders. I went over 3 peaks with large cairns on them. I looked over at Quiniscoe peak and noticed someone on it and took a photo. I noticed them heading down towards Red Mountain. Then I started scrambling down to the col between Red Mountain and Quiniscoe Mountain… then I hear “who are you?” the person was staring up at me I said “it’s me!!”. Turns out it was Shawn!! He’d done Pyramid Mountain, headed over to Quiniscoe Mountain using the Rim trail and was now heading to Red Mountain. I was happy to see him! We took quick photos of each other and then headed off our respective ways. Instead of scrambling down at the col. I decided I’d give Quiniscoe Mountain a shot. Up I went.. then down the other side towards Glacier Trail on the other side. I ran into 5 older hikers who asked “are you hiking alone?” I said proudly “yes” then explained I had been too chicken to do Pyramid Mountain with Shawn. I was back at the Quniscoe Lake campsite soon after. I looked at my watch, it took me just a little over 3 hours! Same time as the park ranger and his marathon runner hikers! I could not believe it (I still can’t to be honest)… that’s super fast for me. Not sure how that happened. Maybe I was so worried about missing that truck? Or maybe I am much faster than I think I am? I think of myself generally as a slower hiker than most. I am really proud of myself for pushing my boundaries on this hike!

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These three days, I was extremely happy. At home, I often find myself thinking about the past and future, but here surrounded by nature I feel like I’m living in the now. I’m totally present for every moment. I’m not “progressing” career wise, or building skill sets, or really doing anything more than just hiking and taking in all that is around me – and that is enough. It makes me think that perhaps a goal I should be working towards is a simpler life, one with a lot less “noise”. Cathedral Provincial Park is absolutely incredible. I loved every minute of being here. Highly recommend anyone checking it out!

Thoughts about another cyclist…

As everyone knows I made it home safely from my cycling adventure. I read this the other day HERE and it really impacted me. He didn’t cycle regularly, he hadn’t trained much prior to his trip and he was raising funds and awareness for the environment – Same as me on all three counts. He started off from Vancouver a month after I did. I read his blog, he took the same route through Manning park that I did (worked hard the same way climbing that crazy hill to Manning Lodge and blogged about his jubilation making it to Allison Pass – the top!). I looked through his photos and he even took some similar photos I had taken (from the same spots). Even though I didn’t know him, I’ve been thinking about him and I’m sad.

I remember when I first started off on my adventure just being happy to challenge myself. Super excited, oblivious to anything that could go wrong. It never entered my mind in any serious way that what I was doing was dangerous. Trucks and cars whizzed passed me all the time. Some closer than I would have liked. I even took a selfie with a massive truck passing by me to show people how small the shoulder I was riding on was. Still.. it never truly entered my mind that I was in harms way.

I was on some of the same roads Graeme was on, going through some of the same mental struggles to ride some of the challenging terrain as him. He took the risk, lived life to the fullest all the way to the end. Inspiring.

I don’t regret doing the bicycle ride. It was amazing. A once in a lifetime adventure. It’s just hit me pretty hard hearing how someone else took a similar journey and how it turned out for him. I wish he was riding through Ontario right now, complaining in his blog about annoying oversized black flies.

Brandywine Mountain Aug 20 2014

Hadn’t made any firm plan to hike. I had a ton of work to do, so I grappled with the decision to either stay home or go for a hike. If you take care of yourself you are likelier to produce higher quality work and work more efficiently. But, despite this sound logic – I still felt that sense of guilt that I didn’t have my priorities straight. So there was this loud voice in my head saying “Lyda, you don’t have time for anything else right now, especially with the upcoming launch of the Greater Victoria Green Team “. I had to really work at shutting that voice up and reminding myself that self care is not just important to me on a personal level but also very important on a professional level too. So, I decided I was going to go hiking! 

Decided to give Brandywine Mountain a shot. I had been there twice before, once in 2005 and once in 2006. Back then I remember standing on the slippery scree on the way up thinking to myself that I was in way over my head. I did not make the peak either time (I’d made it to about an hour or so from the peak). The first time I gave Brandywine Mountain a try in 2005 someone from another hiking group helped me down the slippery scree, which consisted mainly of encouraging words that I could do it. The second time I went there in 2006, I wondered why the heck I hadn’t learned from the first time that this was not a hike for me. Decided back then not to come back again. It’s been a long time… and I was curious to see how I would do this time. Back in 2005 and 2006 I was fitter (and skinnier), so this was definitely going to be interesting. To sum it up. It turned out to be one of the easiest hikes/scrambles I’ve done. I was in a daze afterwards wondering why I had been so worried about this hike. I think it must be that over the years I’ve built myself up mentally to tackle more challenging hikes. It could also be that I am more experienced now. Instead of hiking on the slippery scree like I had the other two times, I stuck to bigger more firm rocks. 

We drove along the forest service road off Hwy 99 (Brandywine Mountain is between Squamish and Whistler) until we reached a sign that said 2kms to the lower parking lot and 5 kms to the upper parking lot. Because it was now pretty late in the day, we decided to give the upper parking lot a shot and avoid the 365 meters elevation gain in forest bit from the 2WD trailhead. The road wasn’t too bad. We got to a sign that said 2kms to the Brandywine Meadows trailhead and the road looked dodgy. We decided to not chance it and parked here. We started off just after 12pm. That 2kms was a super easy walk and we got to the trailhead in 20mins. It took only 10 mins and we were in Brandywine meadows. From what I recall it is at least one hour to the meadows from the 2WD trailhead down below. Brandywine Meadows was beautiful! We walked along the trail which was mainly flat. There weren’t too many wild flowers. I also noticed there weren’t many mosquitoes either. Some parts of the trail were muddy. There were two creek crossings. The first one was easy enough. The second one, not so much. The water was rushing by and I found it a challenge to cross. So I wandered up further and Shawn helped me get across on a log.

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Now we were at the foot of the Mountain. It was only an hour from the car. Up we went, towards the dreaded scree!! There was a skinny trail on the slippery loose scree. I avoided it completely by sticking to bigger firm rocks to the left of it.

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We got to the top of that first slope to the ridge. Beautiful views all around us.

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The last push to the peak and finally we made it! From the car it had taken us 3 hours and 20 mins. We were there at around 3.30pm. We had lunch, signed the summit register and enjoyed the amazing views all around us. We hung out there for over an hour!

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Started to head down at 4.40pm

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On the last part of our descent into the meadow we spotted two marmots. Noticed a lot more mosquitoes now (where were they before?). Once down at the meadow, Shawn said he thought the way I’d crossed the creek earlier was more challenging than the way he’d crossed. So, I went to where he’d crossed and he looked for a way to make it easier for me to cross. I decided to just cross and promptly slipped on a rock and fell into the stream. It wasn’t deep, but because of the way I fell in. I was wet all the way up to just below my waist. My feet were swimming pools all the way back to the car (lucky this didn’t happen on the way up!).Note to self: next time, I’m just taking my boots and socks off and going across in the water from the get go!). This is where I fell in:


The walk back to the car was beautiful got to see the sun setting on the Black Tusk


The elevation gain 1019 meters and we hiked 15kms

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All in all, it was an amazing day. When I got home, I thought about my answer when someone recently asked me about my fitness level – I told her I was not fit and argued all the reasons I thought I was not fit.  Truth of the matter is, while I definitely could  lose a few pounds, I am fit. It’s taken me until now to feel comfortable saying that simple statement “I am fit”. Don’t know why it’s so hard to make this positive statement about myself! I also thought about my concerns about making it to the peak of Brandwine Mountain. At the start of most hikes, I wonder the same thing. Sure, there are definitely going to be hikes/scrambles that are going to be over my level of comfort which I won’t do, but overall I’m a pretty decent hiker and do challenging hikes. I need to stop selling myself short and stop questioning myself so much!

Mount Strachan 17 August 2014

Mount Strachan is on the North Shore in Cypress Provincial Park. Decided to do a shortish hike. Parked and headed off on the Howe Sound Crest Trail, the same trail you start on to go to Unnecessary Mountain.


We veered off the trail onto the trail through a gully towards Mount Strachan. It became very steep, very quickly and was less a hike than a scramble with some boulder hopping. We got to the saddled between Mount Strachan North Peak and South Peak. We went up both! Unfortunately for us, despite it being a beautiful day, there was a fog so we couldn’t see any views (so took very few photos)

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After a lunch (sandwich and grapes) we found our way to the ski run and looped down that way, rather than go the steep trail we had just come up. Once we got to the parking lot, we found some blueberry bushes and picked some. yum!!


Really enjoyed being out on this mountain.

The stats for this hike: We did 10kms and it was a 750 meters elevation gain

Mount Macfarlane Aug 6 2014

Packed up our day packs and drove to Chilliwack. At Vedder Crossing, we turned left and drove just under 22kms until we reached a small gravel parking lot. This was the trailhead for Mount Macfarlane.







The stats are 21kms roundtrip, elevation gain 1800 meters, and the average grade is 16.8% (steep!) It was flat for the first 200 meters, then we reached a big log that we crossed over onto Pierce Trail

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Then the trail got super steep. It was definitely not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. I dragged myself up through the forest. There were two short boulder fields to cross.

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We came across a stream we had to cross and I had to balance across a log. There was a rope to hold onto and the darn thing wasn’t taut enough and at one point, I thought I was going to fall into the stream.


After 3 hours and 20 minutes we finally reached Pierce Lake. We took a break here and Shawn chowed down on his sandwich, I ate part of a muffin and some grapes. I planned to save the majority of my lunch for our lunch break at the peak. Despite it being a nice day, noticed that a fog was rolling in.

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Then we got to a meadow area, with no trees. Beautiful wildflowers everywhere!

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Then we had to hike through mud, then through a scree next to a waterfall, up a steep narrow trail. The fog seemed to be getting thicker.

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Finally we reached the upper lake, and could barely see it through the fog. We took a moment to think about whether to carry on, because of the fog. We knew the general direction of Mount Macfarlane Peak and there was a distinct trail, so we carried on.

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On our way up it cleared up and we saw a view. Same shot, with fog, fog lifting a  bit and then somewhat clear of fog. Could finally see the lake. The fog only lifted for a few minutes. So glad we saw it.

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We got to see a pika on the way up. The trail became loose shale. I did not like it one bit and was slowing down quite a bit to navigate through this part. Also, at some points rocks would come loose and barrel down from where Shawn had just been towards me, so it was dodgy and we had to take care neither of us were directly below the other. DSC00823 DSC00612

Just about 95 meters from the peak with more slippery shale to hike up and noticing that we were running out of time and knowing I was going to take awhile to get up there and then down, I made the decision to stay put. Could barely see much of anything cause we were pretty much socked in. Shawn is like a goat, and can scurry up anything very quickly, so he went ahead to get to the peak.


Shawn’s photos at the peak (I didn’t miss much)

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It was slowing going, to get down that slippery shale

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Got to Pierce Lake again. this time we could see a bit more. Also saw some cool fungi!

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It was a long hike down. We came across a couple who had just reached Pierce Lake and were planning to camp. They were thinking about heading up to Mount Macfarlane in moonlight. Hopefully it was clear for them!

We never really had a chance to sit down and take a proper lunch break cause the hike was so long, and felt like we were on the move the entire time with a few short breaks in there. We’d started the hike at 9.39am and we were back at the car at 9.10pm, just when it got dark. I used my headlamp for the last 10 mins of the hike. So, basically we were hiking for 11 and 1/2 hours. This was a tough slog of a hike and it was really too bad we weren’t rewarded for all that hard work with the views.

I thought about the fact that I was pretty close to the peak and chose not to go that last bit. I think it was a wise decision cause if I had carried on to the peak, I’d have seen nothing view wise and we would have likely been hiking back in the dark another 1/2 hour or more which would have made it all that more dodgy. Despite it being a good decision, I still have that nagging feeling that I didn’t “make it” and wasn’t “successful” on this hike. I think success is how you define it. Getting to the very top isn’t necessarily success, perhaps in this case success might be defined by making a decision that allowed us to have a safer hike and not hike in the dark!  As hard as this hike was, I loved every minute of it. Can’t wait until the next one.

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Baden Powell Trail Aug 1 2014

Shawn and I had done Deep Cove to Grouse Mountain along the Baden Powell Trail back in 2011, so we decided we’d park at Horseshoe Bay and hike the Baden Powell Trail to Grouse Mountain.

We got to the trailhead (which is a small gravel parking lot to the right of where cars pay to get onto the ferry at Horseshoe Bay) and started off a 6.15am


Unfortunately, due to poor signage got off course a bit (note to anyone else doing this hike, stick to the trail next to the Hwy and steer left). Did a bit of bushwhacking and got back onto the Baden Powell trail. It was steep up right away. Then I heard a hoot. I thought it was just someone hooting further up the trail trying to be funny and decided for fun I’d hoot back. Then it hooted back at me, and I hooted back. We went back and forth for 5 or so minutes and then we looked up into the trees to see a bird flying towards us, at this point we figured it was an owl. Lost sight of it and continued hiking up the trail. The Shawn looks straight up and says “it’s an owl, it’s staring right at me” and then it flew off. We noticed another smaller owl flying after it. We hooted back and forth a bit and saw it flying through the trees a few more times following us. I’ve been hiking awhile and I have never seen an owl on a hike before. It was really amazing. Wish we could have gotten a photo but it was too dark, and the owls were too far away and too darn quick for us. Based on their size and colouring – we guess it was either a barred owl or a short-eared owl.

We’d read up on this hike beforehand and someone had reported that it was “VERY dangerous” so I was anxiously waiting for this dangerous part through scree. Got to the boulder field and had no problem. It was very steep. I definitely had to use my hands a lot, but I never felt it was dangerous, though on hindsight, it would have sucked to fall at any point during this section (falling on rock would hurt!). Then again,tripping or falling on most any hike would lead to getting injured too.. so this hike was no more dangerous than most others I’ve done

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We finally popped out at Eagle Ridge with beautiful views

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It was pretty much downhill from this point on and we ended up at the Lodge at Cypress Mountain. On the way there, Shawn saw some rustling in the bushes and said “there is a bear in there”, at which point I quickly grabbed my bear spray at the ready..and we carried on away from the bear slowly. Then we had a lunch in the shade at the Lodge.


We’d been hiking for 6 hours at this point. aired out my feet and changed socks! Then we started heading for the trail to continue on.. and I heard “excuse me” from a distance and heard a tourist from the lodge restaurant inform us we were bee-lining straight for a bear. We skirted the bear and headed on our way..


Pretty much a rooty trail from this point on, no views to be had.

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We popped out at the British Properties, never been there before. Very large expensive homes. We had been aiming for Cleveland Dam (not too far from Grouse Mountain), but due to confusing signage didn’t quite get there. We hopped onto the transit down to Marine Drive, got onto bus 257 to Horseshoe Bay and it pretty much dropped us off 200meters from our car. We’d been hiking for 11 hours today and covered 25 kms. I think next hike will probably be somewhere more remote!

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Unnecessary Mountain 27 July 2014

Unnecessary Mountain gets its name because it was once part of the route to reach The Lions, and now the route avoids it so it is now “unnecessary” 🙂 It is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park.

We parked at the Cypress Mountain Parking lot, hopped onto the Howe Sound Crest trail, loads of people on it. Had never done St. Mark’s before and the plan was to do St. Mark’s, Strachan and Hollyburn – but decided once we were on the trail to do Unnecessary Mountain. We’d never been there before, so were excited to check it out.


Noticed a guy behind us just before Bowen lookout and he hiked past us (more about him coming up). It was a gravel trail for the first while then it became a rooty trail

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It was pretty steep up on the rooty trail to get to St. Mark’s summit and checked out the beautiful views, tons of people up there – could barely find room to check out the views. There must have been at least 20 people up there at the time.

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After St. Mark’s summit, we hiked downhill and then we started to head uphill steeply. Just when we started going up, we came across the guy who had passed us before the Bowen lookout, he was sitting and looked really tired. Asked him where he’d hiked from and where he was heading to. He said he’d started at Horseshoe Bay and was heading to Unnecessary Mountain. He mentioned he’d done the trail before, but that he’d gained some weight so was struggling more than he’d expected. Then he said “I feel like such a tool asking, but do you have any water?” I had brought 3 litres of water on the hike, (and had chugged an additional 4th litre at the parking lot), had about 2.5 litres at this point, so I pulled out my one litre bottle of water and poured out about 250 ml. It wasn’t much, but I had no idea how much further to the peak, and it was a hot day so I was concerned about enough water for myself. The guy had pretty much no water and he planned to get to Unnecessary Mountain and then hike all the way down to Horseshoe Bay…I was worried about him. I sure hope he turned back at that point. We did not see him again, so I imagine he got off the mountain safely. Shockingly, this happened a few more times today (more to come about this)

The trail on the way up.

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We broke out into beautiful views at the top and thought we had reached the South Summit, but turns out we hadn’t. Noticed a guy taking selfies. We wandered up and down steep terrain towards the North Summit:

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Finally the South summit

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The view to the North Summit

The view back to the South Summit


The North Summit!!

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When we got to the North Summit, the sun was beating down it was super hot. Didn’t notice any shade for a lunch spot. Then spotted 3 hikers sitting in a shaded spot. I said to Shawn “this might be the only shaded spot”. One of those 3 hikers said “yup it’s a half hour to the next shaded spot”. I don’t know if he was just being funny in a friendly way, or sarcastic. I’m guessing the latter, cause they didn’t offer to share the shaded spot with us (not ideal hiking etiquette :(). Shawn found a spot where there was some shade but we had to climb down a bit onto a ledge, and the height was a bit scary for me.

Hung around enjoying a lunch and the beautiful views (especially of the Lions).

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That guy who had been taking selfies before the South Summit of Unnecessary Mountain arrived at the North Summit, (we had been there for a 1/2 hour or so, so he had been slow getting there). Another guy who had been coming from the direction of the Lions started talking with him in their own language so I’m guessing they were friends and they started heading back right away. About 15 mins later we started heading back ourselves.

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After the South Summit we started heading downhill steeply. Came across that guy who had been taking selfies earlier, he was alone (his friend must have taken off) and he appeared to be struggling. He was moving slowly and cautiously. He slipped and yelped at one point. We passed him… and then something crossed our minds. So we stopped and waited for him and asked “Do you have enough water?” he said he’d run out of water awhile back. He’d had 3 gatorades (750mls each) – might have used the bottles for water not just gatorade though and proudly told us “…and two beers”. We figured it was about 3 hours or so to the parking lot from that point, but at his speed more like 4+ hours. This guy was in trouble. I poured out 500ml of my water into his empty gatorade bottle. I wanted to give him more but decided I had to also take care that I had enough water too. We asked if he had a phone to call for help if he needed to, he said yes. So, we headed off.

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After St. Marks when we were heading downhill we noticed a couple of guys behind us. They caught up to us pretty quick. One of them asked “do you have any water?” in my head I was thinking “whoa… seriously?” I told them I’d given close to a litre of water to two hikers already and had just enough left for myself (to be honest, I could have used more and was rationing). Shawn had brought enough water for himself for this hike. I struggled with guilt the rest of the way down – it’s upsetting to have to say no to someone asking you for water. The main thing that put me at ease was that they were only about an hour from the parking lot, so figured they were fine.

Had I just had enough water for myself, what would have happened to those two guys I had given water to? Would I have given my water to them anyway, and left not enough for myself? If I had allowed myself to run out of water because I was being a good samaritan search and rescue might have had to come get me. What would my excuse have been? I gave water to other people who had made the mistake of not bringing enough water? What about the mistake of giving up your own water? Bad situation all around. Not a fun situation to be in. Back a few weeks ago, I ran out of water on my way down from Elk Mountain myself, but I had calculated enough water for 2 days – and only ran out for the last hour or so to the trailhead, while it was an amateur mistake, it’s still not as bad as running out of water on the way UP or being 4+ hours away from a water source and running out. I heard that some hikers had been helicoptered out of this area because they were dehydrated and ran out of water. This is the very first time I’ve run into so many unprepared hikers. We’re more used to hiking in more remote areas, where hikers are more prepared; however, because this hike was so close to the city, there were lots of city slickers on the trail who just weren’t prepared. At least there are lots of people and there is phone reception in case one gets into trouble.

Got to the parking lot at 7.30pm, had been on the trail from around 11am. Really enjoyed this hike (sans all the unprepared hikers!). We’d done 20 kms.

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