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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!