Month: September 2014

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.