Williams Peak

Date: Aug 1, 2022

Participants: Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3 (very steep heather, some rock scrambling)

Report: Not to be confused with the Williams Peak above Bralorne that I climbed a decade ago, we decided to make the best of a hot long weekend day to make our way to the prominent Williams Peak in the Chilliwack Valley. It’s summit pyramid is unmissable as you drive towards Chilliwack Lake but somehow I’d never managed to make an attempt on it now, probably due to the massive elevation gain serving as a ready deterrent. Nonetheless…

We set out from our car shortly before 10 and slogged our way up the steep trail and through the heat up to the ridge, which we reached in about 1:45. The heat made it feel slow, but someone had done some very recent trailwork and the trail is in excellent condition up to the ridge. Luckily the heat stayed down in the valley and we experienced much more reasonable temperatures higher up, though with the tradeoff. that there were a lot of bugs about in the forest.

The trail along the ridge hadn’t seen recent work and was somewhat bushy in places, though never bad, and we quickly made our way up to the viewpoint at the end of the ridge, reaching it in just over an hour. Here we had lunch and decided on our route down and across the bowl towards the summit pyramid.

We began our descent into the bowl at 1:15, going straight down the obvious gully down to where there was a fairly obvious ledge heading to the left. From here we contoured across the bowl, following occasional flagging, and despite reports that it was an endless boulder-fest, actually found that the boulders weren’t bad at all and were able to do much of the traverse and ascent through the little heather and shrub forests that adorn the bowl.

At the far end of the bowl is a nasty loose rock and boulder filled gully that Gunn calls a ramp. It is very loose with few solid holds, and at one point we reached a short section with almost nothing to hang on to and where everything was moving under us. Jeff made his way through it, but Nancy and I were sketched out and after losing a lot of time to indecision, I eventually elected to not proceed and rather to descent.

I started back down the ramp, and about 30 seconds into my descent decided that I should check out the heather slopes to climber’s left of the ramp. Sure enough, they are easy to walk up to the top and then traverse over to the top of the ramp. Approximately 3 minutes after giving up on the ramp and starting my descent I found myself safely on top of the ramp looking down on the others.

Long story short, don’t bother with the loose gully / ramp. Go up the heather to its left and skip the whole excitement.

On top of the ramp at about 2:45 we stopped for a quick snack then worked our way around to the south of the pyramid where there is an obvious massive heather gully that leads right to the summit. The gully has no technical difficulty and only needs hands in a few short sections, but man is it steep. There are steps in the dirt in the most part from people who came before, and so it is no problem for the sure footed, but I know many people who would have zero interest or desire to make their way up and down the gully due to the steepness. That said, it is direct, and we were on the beautiful summit at 3:25pm. Perfect temperature and clear views all around!

We began our descent a few minutes before 4pm, were down below the ramp at 4:35, across the bowl and back at the ridge viewpoint at 5:10, at the junction of the ridge trail where the real descent begins at about 6:15, and down at the car at about 7:50 with no damage done except for a badly blistered toe from the descent.

Total elevation gain was somewhere between 1,700m and 2,000m depending on whose trackers we trust, 17.8km and a total round trip time (including breaks) of nearly 10 hours. A big day, but big views! Thank you for the adventure!

Continue ReadingWilliams Peak

Valentine Lake & Saxifrage Mountain

Date: Aug 1/2, 2021

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 3

Report: A last minute change of plans meant that rather than car camping Friday night and hiking in the smoke on Saturday, Brittany and I decided to leave town mid day on Sunday and take advantage of the long weekend to do our main exercise on the Monday when the smoke forecast called for better weather.

I knew very little about the access to Valentine Lake, but it turns out to be way easier and nicer to get to than I expected. We left Coquitlam just before noon, and drove up the Sea to Sky through quite dense forest fire smoke. Turning off onto Spetch Creek FSR 13km from the stop sign in Mt. Currie, the road starts out flat, then has a steep and very loose section between 1 and 2km up the road. People with 2wd vehicles really need to stop trying to go up roads like this, spinning their tires and turning a perfectly nice logging road into a mess. Past this loose section, just follow the main road up to just past 7km, where find a nice landing with a clearly marked trail starting on the right. The smoke was quite thin by this point, and we could clearly see the peaks above. Amazingly, despite the long weekend there was only a single other vehicle there, with only two people. Guess the smokein town scared everyone off…

Note that there is a new logging spur from the last couple years that heads up to the right perhaps 200m before the trailhead. This could be taken as well, as the trail passes through the trees just past the end of the clearcut. Using this spur would take off maybe 800m of walking each way, but would require a bit of a thrash through the slash to connect to the trail until a proper footbed is established.

Leaving the car minutes before 3:30, the trail briefly ascended next to Spetch Creek, before turning and ascending steeply for up to a few hundred metres of elevation. This section has a lot of minor deadfall that someone with a saw could quite easily remove, but is otherwise in great condition. If you see this, be a good citizen and lug a saw or chainsaw up the first 2km with you ūüôā

Above the steep bit, the remaining 4km or so to the lake ascends gently through very pleasant meadows (when dry!) and open terrain, eventually turning left at a pass and soon arriving Valentine Lake. The lake was nicer than I expected. On arriving at the lake, there is a tent pad just to the left of where you arrive and the other party was staying there, so we continued a few minutes around to the north end of the lake where there is a large flat grassy area perfect for a few tents and that has a fresh water supply via a running creek going past. I would recommend staying here rather than at the tent pad for this reason. It was 6:10 when we set our packs down, for a total ascent time of about 2:40.

We made quick time setting up camp, cooking a freeze dried dinner, and enjoying the sunset. By the time the sun went down the smoke had almost completely cleared. The only problem is that the bugs were absolutely atrocious. and I had forgotten my pants down at the trailhead. At least we had some bug nets to cover our upper bodies and save them a little bit…

Monday morning we woke at 6:30, cooked breakfast, and took off shortly after 7:30. The trail continues up the heather & boulder meadows for a short distance but soon peters out and we were left to find our own way up through the meadows and occasional talus fields towards the base of Saxifrage’s SE ridge, which we reached around 9:30. By this point Brittany was not feeling well and she elected to wait at a pleasant vantage point at the base of the ridge while I went to find my way up.

I took off up the ridge proper at about 9:55 and going solo made quick time. Now, Gunn’s Scrambles book says for difficulty “moderate, tricky routefinding”, and while this might technically be accurate, the route is completely out of character compared to the rest of his “moderates”. Really, it’s a proper 3rd class alpine climb.

The route involved plenty of easy 3rd class climbing on good rock, lots of minor backtracking to find ways to skirt difficulties (almost always to the left), a number of loose gullies to cross, and one somewhat exposed 3rd class mandatory downclimb to connect two ledges between the two main gullies. As I was solo, I found this quite stressful, but when I get stressed I climb fast, and I made it to the summit at 10:35. 300 metres vertical of 3rd class scrambling & routefinding in 40 minutes! Phew!

The views from the summit were great, with only a little forest fire smoke obscuring the furthest away peaks. The Place Glacier peaks were clear, as were peaks over in the Cayoosh area. Nonetheless, with Brittany waiting below I lingered only long enough to take a few photos, eat a quick snack, and set off back down again around 10:45.

Knowing the route, the way down the ridge was easy enough, and although I still did not at at like the loose gully crossings and descent I found there were decent enough holds on the rock on the far side to traverse and descend them safely. Despite one minor delay waiting for the other party up there to go through the crux downclimb I made it back to where Brittany was waiting at 11:30, for a descent time almost identical to my ascent time.

From here the ridge across to Cassiope looked like it’d be slow traverse and from our distance the ascent gully looked quite slow, and we wanted to be back in town to spend a bit of time with the kids and put them to bed, so we elected to leave Cassiope for another day and headed back down to camp. We arrived back in camp at 1pm, ate some lunch, packed up the tent, and took off around 1:40.

The descent was pleasant through the meadows, although with our sore feet the steep descent back down to the car couldn’t come soon enough. Nonetheless, we trudged onwards and made it down to the car at 3:55, for a descent time of 2 hour, 15 minutes.

Overall, this was a fantastic hike, much better than my expectation going in. The lake is a really fantastic place to camp at and can be recommended just for that. Saxifrage is definitely an interesting and exciting scramble, and can also be recommended as a worthy destination, just go in with the mindset that it’s more challenging than you’d expect from its rating as “moderate”.

Continue ReadingValentine Lake & Saxifrage Mountain

Which 103 Hikes to do in 2022

Yeah, I’m a lister. My copies of Jack Bryceland’s 103 Hikes, Matt Gunn’s Scrambles, Stephen Hui’s 105 Hikes (& Destination Hikes), Bruce Fairley’s Guide to Hiking & Climbing, Kevin McLean’s Alpine Select, John Baldwin’s Exploring the Coast Mountain on Skis, plus many more are marked up and annotated with which routes I’ve climbed, which peaks I’ve summited, and which regions I’ve completed 100% of trips described.

My adventuring days per year have declined in recent years due to kids & work, but there are a few of these books where I’m nearing the 100% mark, and so on this rainy spring BC afternoon, I’ve decided to put together my opinionated ranking of (almost) all 103 hikes described in the 2008 edition of 103 Hikes in Southwestern BC.

If this post proves popular, perhaps I’ll be convinced to put together a ranking of Scrambles, 105 Hikes, Ski Tours, or maybe even a list of my favourite trips not covered in any guidebook to date!

The Top 10

If you live in southwestern BC, if you haven’t done one of these hikes, now is the time.

  1. Panorama Ridge
    Approach via Helm Lake to avoid the crowds and the boring trudge up the barrier. The landscape from the campground onwards is stunning, the meadows below the ridge stunning, the ridge ascent enjoyable, and the view that appears as you crest the ridge to get a glimpse of Garibaldi Lake and the glaciers beyond is simply stunning.

  2. Needle Peak
    This half day hike is bite-sized perfection. A short trek through the forest, great views as you ascend the ridge, and a fun short scramble to top it off. Great for a summer day, but can be a great trip in winter too when the summit block isn’t too icy. I’ve done it multiple times in both sets of conditions.

  3. Joffre Lakes
    One of the shortest hikes in the book, there’s a reason hundreds of cars line the highway to visit the lakes on a nice summer day, and it isn’t just that Instagram log at the middle lake. Visit mid week and take your friends to the upper lake to knock their socks off with the easy access to the beautiful lake with the impressive views of the Matier & Stonecrop glaciers above. Please stay away from the snowfields and glaciers though as they are prone to avalanche and icefall.

  4. Frosty Mountain
    Best done at the beginning of October to catch the golden larches, Frosty is a fantastic interior hike with a great trail, great views, and a classic BC parks summit post to top it off. Sure, it doesn’t go to the true summit, which is best done on skis in the spring, but when the trip is this good, that doesn’t matter.

  5. Elfin Lakes
    I’ll be the first to admit that hiking to Elfin Lakes is a slog and not much fun all, but that’s why we invented skis and bikes and once you get to the lakes, the journey will be all but forgotten. Jump on your bike and grind up the road to the top of Paul Ridge and onwards to Elfin Lakes. At the lakes, have a bite, gawk at the views of the Mamquam massif, then either roll back down to your car or stash your bike and head up the saddle trail for a better look at Garibaldi itself.

  6. Mount Seymour
    You might be surprised I rank Mount Seymour so high, but in my book it is another piece of SW BC perfection. You get to start high, the views are great, and there are endless possibilities for variation. Want something more interesting than the regular trail? Take a scrambling line up the face of pump peak or to the right of the main trail between pump peak and second peak, find your way down a gully on the way back, detour via DePencier bluffs or Mystery lake on the way down, or even duck around the summit to add on a tag of Runner Peak. This is the only summit on earth that I’ve ascended more times than I’ve orbited the sun.

  7. Golden Ears
    The initial trek up the west canyon rail to Alder Flats is boring, but the new bridge over Gold Creek can make this a bit better if you instead bike up to the bridge on the east canyon trail. Beyond Alder Flats, the trip is one of the best there is, but give yourself plenty of time because it’s a pretty long day. Nice forest walking, a snowfield to cross, and great easy ridge scrambling. Once you make the summit, be a true completionist and make a quick jaunt over to the other ear.

  8. Cheam Peak
    This is probably the only hike in SW BC where you can be walking through flowering meadows pretty much 100% of the time from car to summit. Amazing views from start to finish but easy enough to bring your extended family and carry your kids up on your back (I have!). The road isn’t in the best shape, so make sure you have a good 4×4 to make it to the trailhead. Highly recommended to take an extra hour or two to tag on an ascent of Lady Peak while you’re up there!

  9. Emma Lake
    A bit quieter than the other trips in my top 10, Emma Lake is both charming and amazing. If you’re lucky to find it free, use the canoe to explore the lake and wander some of the granite slabs surrounding it. The Powell River Knuckleheads just finished a new “Emma direct” trail up to the lake.

  10. Seed Peak
    Formerly a real pain to get to due to road conditions (waterbars & alder), logging in 2019 at the trailhead has rendered access easy. I went up in June 2020 and re-flagged a scarcely defined footbed, loved it, and then went back in September to find that popularity had exploded and the footbed now in good condition and easy to follow. This trip is top 10 for how quickly you access the alpine (20-30 minutes), and how easy it is to get somewhere that feels so remote while being so close.

The Excellent

The next 25-30 hikes, ones that I personally love, and any of them would blow the mind of any guest of yours visiting from out of town

  1. Leading Peak (Anvil Island)
    Find a beautiful spring day, and head to Anvil Island while other hikes are still snowed in. Far and away the best of the Howe Sound island hikes, Leading Peak has great variety, and a nice platform on top to lounge about on to enjoy 360 degree views.

  2. Garibaldi Lake
    I struggled a bit with ranking this so high when I already have Panorama Ridge, but the fact is that Panorama Ridge is a pretty intense day trip for most people, and the shores Garibaldi Lake are already one of the most stunning places in Canada. Take your friends, take your family, take your kids!

  3. Mount Harvey & Brunswick Mountain
    I’m cheating here and combining two hikes as one, and that’s because while each of Harvey and Brunswick are good exercise in their own rights, crossing over the top of Mt. Harvey to take the Howe Sound Crest Trail across Magnesia Meadows to Mt. Brunswick elevates this trip to near the top of my list of best trips to in our corner of BC.

  4. Tenquille Lake
    Don’t do the route described in 103 hikes, but save yourself time by approaching from the east (from roads rising near Birkenhead Lake) to quickly reach one of the most beautiful lakes in SW BC. Use the time saved to wander up to Mt. Barbour and Copper Mound above the lake!

  5. Mamquam Lake
    Want to feel like you’re way the f*** out there? Go to Mamquam Lake. Better yet, combine it with biking up to Elfin Lakes and a side-trip up to the summit of Opal Cone on the way back. The landscape between Opal Cone and Rampart Ponds is out of this world, one of the most incredible trips that you can do in our part of the world. The only downside? The full round trip is loooonnnng. 44km even without the side trip up Opal Cone. I did it as an 8 hours solo round trip from the car but most parties will want a lot longer than that or to do it as a multi-day trip.

  6. Semaphore Lakes
    One of the best bang for your buck hikes in SW BC. Under 90 minutes takes you up to a few beautiful lakes. Find your way onto a rocky knoll and enjoy the views of railroad pass, the train glacier, and locomotive and face glacier. Best done on a weekday to skip the crowds.

  7. Haylmore-Melvin Divide (Twin Lakes)
    I love this area and have done 3 trips in the last decade to the Twin Lakes & peaks above. On a nice summer day, it reminds me a lot of Switzerland. Bring a bike to save your knees from the descent from the little hut back down to your car at the end of day.

  8. Black Tusk
    I struggle where to put Black Tusk because the book expressly says to go to the viewpoint rather than the summit, and while the viewpoint is cool, the summit is cooler. If you’re up for a short bit of crumbly class 3 scrambling, grab your helmet, go early to beat the crowds and avoid getting beaned in the head by rocks knocked by whoever’s ahead of you, and carefully ascend to one of the most unique and iconic places you can find.

  9. Illal Meadows
    Easy access? Check. Plentiful water? Check. Perfect camping pretty much anywhere? Check. Illal Meadows may be my favourite camping destination in the province. Wonderful meadows and no fewer than 3 fun destinations to ascend above them (Coquihalla Mountain, Illal Peak, Mount Jim Kelly).

  10. Stawamus Chief
    Overcrowded, but legitimately great. Head direct to the 3rd peak, cross to the second while taking time at the viewpoints and imagine climbing the faces and buttresses below, and then back down to your car for a quick half day trip. For a repeat trip head up the skyline trail on the backside of the 3rd peak.

  11. Marriot Meadows
    The Marriot basin is perfect for a day or weekend of exploring and scrambling the myriad ridges and bumps nearby. Easy access, the really cool Wendy Thompson Hut (book in advance to stay in it), great flowers, and can combine it with a trip to either Mt. Marriot (hard!) or a wander up Mt. Rohr (easy!).

  12. Elk-Thurston
    One of my favourite places for mountain running. Hustle up past the crowds on the Elk trail and you’ll usually find the route beyond to Mt. Thurston to be quiet despite the great views across the valley to Mt. McGuire and Mt. Slesse.

  13. Russet Lake
    The walk from Whistler summit out along the musical bumps to the top of Cowboy Ridge is world class, with amazing views to either side. Do it as a loop, using the gondola to save yourself some uphill and then take the singing pass trail down at the end of your day, or camp up above Russet Lake and add on an ascent of Fissile for a fantastic overnight trip.

  14. Yak Peak
    One of the most direct routes in the Coquihalla, if you’re lucky you’ll find a few groups of climbers ascending Yak Check just above you and to the left as you ascend the steep trail to the right of the main face. It’s a short trip, so you might as well wander over the heather and bag Nak Peak while you’re up there!

  15. Tricouni Meadows
    Tricouni Peak might be the best easy scramble in BC, but the meadows below are worthwhile on their own, with their lakes a perfect azure. This would be a top 10 route if only the book suggested going all the way up to the summit.

  16. Mount Steele
    A charming introduction to Tetrahedron park, visit a couple small lakes and two huts on your way up to this great Sunshine Coast summit with great views of Tetrahedron peak itself.

  17. Three Brothers Mountain
    A classic of SW BC, Three Brothers is a rare hike in that you start high… and stay high. There’s a fair bit of ground to cover, and the terrain isn’t very exciting, but time it right and you can spend hours in sub-alpine sublimity.

  18. July Mountain
    Much quieter than the more southerly Coquihalla peaks, the route up July mountain spends only a brief period in the trees before passing a nice lake and ascending pleasant ridges up to the summit, where you can take in a view of the Coquihalla from a different perspective.

  19. Rainbow Lake
    Rainbow lake is nice, but to keep things interesting, do this as a crossover from Madley Lake to Whistler, and consider ascending Rainbow mountain while you’re at it.

  20. Goat Mountain
    Easier than Crown mountain in that it doesn’t require any scrambling or descending into Crown pass, Goat Mountain nonetheless is a really nice half day hike that lets one gaze north into the depths of Garibaldi Park and then take the Skyride back down to save your knees. Many years ago I used to take beginners joining the SFU Outdoors club here for their first “real” hike. There’s also a Goat Mountain near Mt. Baker / Glacier, Washington, which is a great hike in its own right. Feel free to ascend it as well to have climbed two peaks of the same name.

  21. Skyline Trail East
    I love open ridge rambling, and that’s what this hike brings in spades. Hike from Strawberry flats up to the ridge above and ramble over to Snow Camp Mountain and Lone Goat Mountain for great views of Frosty and the twin spires of Mt. Hozomeen. In order to not have to re-trace your steps, have some friends hike in from Skyline Trail West and swap keys when you pass each other.

  22. Valentine Lake
    2.5 hours access to a gorgeous camping lake? Only 1 hour of that in the trees and the remainder wandering through meadows and open trees? Bring it on! The scrambles above the lake (Saxifrage & Cassiope) are fairly demanding and beyond the comfort level of most hikers, but just wandering up into the heather and boulder meadows above the lake is beautiful and worthwhile.

  23. Helm Lake
    I’m not sure if this even belongs on the list given that my recommended route to Panorama Ridge include this route as part of it, but if you don’t have the time or energy to go to Panorama Ridge, then Helm Lake is still a worthwhile destination. This is the direction that the Black Tusk is most imposing from, and the landscape around Helm Lake is a very interesting volcanic wasteland.

  24. Blowdown Pass
    If you have a 4×4 that’ll get you to within a few km of Blowdown Pass, then this is a highly recommended destination. Enjoy Blowdown lake, hike up to the pass, then turn left to follow the easy ridge up to the summit of Gott Peak before descending through open meadows back to the road below.

  25. Tangled Summit
    From anywhere in the Lower Mainland, the ridge rising east of Buntzen lake looks like any other treed ridge in our province, but looks can be deceiving. In the case of Tangled summit, after passing Lindsay lake the terrain opens up to become a very pleasant open ridge with fun rock slabs and great views all around. Recommended for the end of summer when the day are getting too short to go further afield.

  26. Conway Peak
    So, you’ve climbed Cheam or Lady, the Conway Peak trail up from Wahleach lake lets you climb the southernmost peak in the Cheam range and check out the steep back faces of Welch and Foley peaks. The road at the bottom can be aldery if nobody’s cleared it out lately, but once it opens up as you ascend towards mile high camp, the route is top notch and you’re unlikely to find any crowds.

  27. Hope Mountain
    The road can be a bit of a mess to reach the trailhead, but from it a quick two hour ascent gets you to the summit directly overlooking Hope. I led a work party to clear the trail of bush and deadfall back in 2014, but can’t attest to its current condition.

  28. Brandywine Meadows
    Beautiful by themselves, this route would be ranked much higher if it described going all the way to the summit of Brandywine Mountain, which is where you should go if you choose to visit the meadows

  29. Mt. McGuire
    The route described in 103 hikes is a no-go due to a bridge outage, but luckily there’s another route that’s just as good from the north east. Head steeply up the ridge, cross the bowl to the traditional trail, and ascend a fun easy ridge to the summit. Great views of the border peaks. Go in early summer when the bowl north of the summit is still snow filled to save your ankles from the talus.

  30. Guanaco Peak
    Head steeply up the slopes between Guanaco, past a crazy natural stone staircase formation to the col between Vicuna and Guanaco. If you’re into exposed 4th class scrambling, turn left to go up Vicuna. If you want an easy rambling ridge ascent, turn right and summit Guanaco to get great views of Alpaca, the Anderson River group, and the backsides of the peaks above the Zopkios rest area. My dad made the first ascents of many of the mountains and routes in this area (including of Vicuna) back in the 70s, and so this area has a special place in my heart.

The Very Good

Hikes that are great fun, usually to an interesting destination, but just aren’t special enough to be the best.

  1. Eaton Lake
    Really well built trail to a beautiful lake. Perfect in the late shoulder season when the days are shorter, but would be great as well in summer with time to spend at the lake to swim or relax. If you have the time and energy, continue on from the lake to Grant Peak for a big day.

  2. High Falls Creek
    Go steep up beside the creek, see crazy steep falls, walk down road. Only takes a couple hours total, but worth it.

  3. Mount St. Benedict
    One of the easier trips in the Mission area, Mt. St. Benedict has great views of the peaks north of Alouette and Stave lakes. Can be done as an easy snowshoe as well.

  4. Lightning Lakes
    The hikes around Lightning Lake, Flash Lake, and Strike Lake are some of the best easy hiking around and they’re usually snow free quite early in the season. The trail ends just as it gets to Thunder Lake though and so you don’t get great views of it, especially compared to what you could see from the Skyline trail up above you. I once went around the end of Thunder Lake, crossed the log jam and followed the ridge up to the summit of Lone Mountain but I can’t really recommend adding that on. Instead, go back to the original Lightning Lake and rent a canoe for a bit of extra fun on your day.

  5. Mount Macfarlane
    Really cool views of Mt. Slesse and the other peaks in the Chilliwack Valley. However… it’s a long ways up. I’ve done trip up to Pierce Lake twice and don’t know if I have it in me to do it again.

  6. Mt. Harvey or Mt. Brunswick (Individually)
    They’re fine trips by themselves, but do yourself a favour and combine them (see trip #13)

  7. Mount Outram
    The big peak guarding the entrance to Manning Park, Outram is a great day trip for a lot of elevation with nice meadows if you time it right.

  8. Stoyoma Mountain
    By far the furthest from Vancouver in terms of driving time of the peaks in 103 hikes, do this on your way to or from the interior to do something else. You get to drive pretty much to treeline in the middle of nowhere, from which the summit of Stoyoma is just a quick hike away. The ridges continue a long ways in each direction if you’re so inclined.

  9. Punch Bowl
    Punch Bowl is a beautiful little lake tucked into the northwest corner of Manning Park and worth a day trip. We camped just before the pass and tacked on an ascent of Snass Mountain to make the trip a bit more fun.

  10. Coliseum Mountain
    Rather than follow what 103 hikes says and ascend from Lynn Valley / Norvan falls, ride your bike up towards the Seymour dam and follow the trail up to Coliseum on the east side. This trail is steep(!), but you rise quickly and Coliseum is where you get the best views of Cathedral mountain to the north.

  11. Mount Elsay
    Mt. Seymour too short? Go to Mt. Elsay! Do it as a loop by dropping down to the west between the second and third peaks of Seymour, add in a jaunt up Runner Peak to make your day more interesting, and return from Mt. Elsay via the Elsay Lake trail.

  12. Slollicum Peak
    A surprisingly pleasant ascent above Harrison Lake, this trail had a lot of work done on it in 2019 and also makes for a quality spring ascent when there is still too much snow for higher peaks.

  13. Mount Gardner (Bowen Island)
    The second best Howe Sound island hike, Gardner makes for a great first hike of the season.

  14. Widgeon Lake
    Adventure! Much of the trail to Widgeon Lake isn’t very exciting or in very good condition, but it has four things going for it. First, a really nice canoe ridge through Widgeon slough. Second, you get to stop at Widgeon Falls. Third, the bridge across Widgeon creek is a sight to behold. And fourth, the lake itself is way bigger than you’d expect given how close it is to the city.

  15. Zoa Peak
    Incredibly popular as a ski tour or snowshoe, Zoa is a great short hike as well, although its neighbours are better.

  16. Slesse Memorial
    Highly recommended as a late season hike when the days are getting shorter or higher destinations are snowed in. The memorial itself is interesting, but the NE buttress of Mt. Slesse above it are awe inspiring.

  17. Black Mountain
    Grind your way up from Horseshoe Bay via Eagle Bluffs (consider adding on West Knob on your way), or shortcut up from the Cypress Bowl ski area. Either way, Black Mountain has a great summit with lots of little lakes to relax by.

  18. Statlu Lake
    Go for the views of Mt. Bardean & Mt. Ratney above the lake. The bridge near the trailhead is pretty insane too. I have no idea how they managed to get that log in place. Look online for current directions to reach the trailhead because logging in 2020 realigned the logging roads.

  19. Nicomen Lake
    This is a tough one to rank because to do it as a day trip as the book recommends from Cayuse Flats would be a real slog of ~32km, albeit to a beautiful lake with a wonderful campground, and I wouldn’t recommend it. On the other hand, doing the entire Heather Trail as an epic day trip via Three Brothers, down to Nicomen Lake, and out to Cayuse Flats is one of the most beautiful and wonderful days you can do in SW BC, but it is ~37-39km, so either way is a big, big day.

  20. Hector Ferguson Lake
    You probably think I’m insane for ranking this so high, and maybe I am. 103 hikes notoriously misstates the roundtrip distance as 28km when it’s more like 36km, and the lake itself is nothing special, but I had a great day in part due to the sheer ridiculousness of the affair. A long bike ride to start, a hike through some crazy forest, a creek crossing, a boulder gulley, and then a little lake. This is a trip you do for the variety and to see how fast you can go, not for the destination. We did it in 8.5 hours, how about you?

  21. Vedder Mountain
    Great as an early season hike, I’ve carried my kids up here. I wouldn’t bother in high season, but as a place to get a nice snow-free half day hike in the shoulder season, it’s one of the best options.

  22. Williams Ridge
    The view from the final viewpoint is nice, but it’s a lot of elevation for what you get and there are so many other hikes in the region that are better bang for your buck. If you’re up for some steep heather scrambling and adding ~4 hours to your day, best continue past the viewpoint on to the actual summit!

  23. Mount Strachan
    Nothing against Mt. Strachan, but the other hikes in the area are simply better. Hollyburn is better for carrying little kids, Black Mountain has better lakes, Howe Sound Crest Trail has better views.

The Rest

Do these once if they’re far, or do regularly if they’re close. They’re hikes, often interesting enough, but I’m not going to make any effort to repeat them. Often there’s another nearby hike that’s simply a better use of your time.

  1. Lions (Binkert) Trail
    Yeah, the Lions are iconic, but this trail doesn’t go to the summit, nor is it very safe to go to the summit. Do Harvey & Brunswick instead.

  2. Stein Valley
    The route as described is a day trip up to the suspension bridge. In early and mid-season it’s good exercise next to a really impressive river, but a long ways to go for what it is.

  3. Mount Crickmer
    Good views of Robie Reid, but too much road slogging unless you’re lucky enough to find the gate at the bottom open.

  4. Diez Vistas
    I live near this, so I’ve done it lots. Good for exercise but don’t expect to see much of anything.

  5. Bear Mountain
    Great as a late season hike when days are short and other destination are now covered and does have very god views of the Cheam range. Not worth it in other conditions.

  6. Cerise Creek
    I feel bad ranking this so low, but I feel like other summer destinations in the Duffey are better. Make this worthwhile by continuing beyond it and up to the summit of Vantage peak.

  7. Dennett Lake
    Good exercise close to town, and the viewpoint above Munro lake is really good.

  8. Skagit River Trail
    Essentially just a walk in the park. There’s only one reason to do this trail, and that’s that in early June it has a couple huge groves of wild rhododendrons.

  9. First Brigade Trail (Tikwalus Heritage Loop)
    The local first nation has done a great job at adding interpretive signs to explain the history of the region, and that elevates this otherwise mundane trail to be one of some interest.

  10. Poland Lake
    A nice lake at the end of a long valley if you approach via how 103 hikes recommends. I liked it, but you have so many iconic hikes nearby that you’ll want to do first.

  11. Wells Peak
    Hope Mountain’s baby brother, another short hike from the same parking area. More wild and can be done in the same day if you have the time.

  12. Hanes Valley
    Good for a trail run or workout, or access to the Crater Slabs route up Crown Mountain.

  13. Tin Hat Mountain
    Lovely summit, but the route is a bit annoying with a lot of up and down, and the fact is that other logging roads will get you a lot closer to the summit.

  14. Flora Lake Loop
    A great workout. I recommend doing it the opposite direction that the book recommends, up past Lindeman Lake, almost to Greendrop, up to Flora Lake and then over the pass for a quick descent back to your car. Parking at the trailhead overnight is not recommended due to risk of getting your car smashed up.

  15. Skyline Trail West
    As mentioned above, best done with a second party doing the complete skyline trail in the other direction. Great views of Hozomeen but if you’re only going to do half, do the other half.

  16. Mt. Amadis
    Very steep, but surprisingly interesting trail above Cultus Lake. A lot of effort for the view, but the ridge itself is more unique than you’d expect. Much of the ridge is near knife-edge, with significant exposure on the trail in places. There are handlines in the worst places, but definitely not for the un-fit or the faint of heart.

  17. Silverdaisy Mountain
    A good safe snowshoe or early season hike on snow, there isn’t much special about Silverdaisy. Nonetheless, it’s one of the better trips to hike in April/May.

  18. Mt. Rexford Trail
    I feel bad about putting this low as the views of Slesse from the trail are jaw dropping, and the alpine is fantastic, but it has a few knocks against it including not leading to a proper destination, being in need of some pruning low down, and that the road has deteriorated, adding ~2km and 250m elevation gain to the trip as described in the book.

  19. Mount Hallowell
    The old fire lookout on the summit is neat, but too much of the route is on road, first clear, then overgrown.

  20. Radium Lake
    Radium lake is a long ways to go for a pretty unremarkable lake. That said, it’s possible to go above to Macdonald Peak (a bit tricky) and Mt. Webb (super easy) to turn this into a grade A day.

  21. Sumas Mountain
    Chadsey lake is reasonably nice, but in the end you’re taking a very long trail to a summit that you can drive almost to the top of.

  22. Mount Thynne
    Beautiful area, but a road all the way up. I didn’t know where to park, so I ended up driving right to the summit.

  23. Flora Lake Loop
    A big day. Not bad at all, and Flora Peak is nice, but still… if you have the time to do this, first tackle the long days higher on this list.

  24. Sigurd Creek
    Crooked falls are really nice, but this hike doesn’t really go anywhere as described in 103 hikes. Instead of the route described, either go just to the falls for a short outing, or buckle up for 1800m of elevation gain and head up to Sigurd Peak itself, the trail to which recently had work done and is in very good condition.

  25. Dilly-Dally Peak
    Use a bike to get to the trailhead to save yourself 5km of walking each way. I actually liked this trip, but I can’t recommend it above Tangled Summit, although if you do go to Tangled Summit and have the energy to spare, you may as well continue on over Dilly-Dally Peak

  26. Blue Mountain
    Road, road, road, road. Decent early or late season trip, but you’re essentially on a dirt biker access road the entire time.

  27. Greendrop Lake
    A nice lake in a nice valley. Very popular, although friends have had their cars smashed up at the trailhead.

  28. Mount Artaban (Gambier Island)
    This is a really short trip, so do it in the offseason as a traverse and add in an ascent of Burt’s Bluff

  29. Gate Mountain (Fraser Valley)
    I spent a day in early July 2022 clearing the bush from the trail up as far as the “notch” viewpoint. A great workout, but hard to recommend until much more work is done on the trail

  30. Alouette Mountain
    Why go to Alouette mountain? I don’t know. It’s a real slog. Evans peak is a 10x better trip for a typical hiker, and even if you are thinking of doing it on your ways to Blanshard Needle, use Fly gulley instead.

  31. Mount Killam (Gambier Island)
    Reasonably nice trail, and a good viewpoint 80% of the way up, but… there’s no view from the summit.

  32. Mount Lincoln
    Ticks, ticks, ticks. Do you like ticks? If so, go to Mt. Lincoln. If not, go somewhere else.

  33. Campbell Lake
    Only a viewpoint half way up of Harrison Lake makes this trip half way worthwhile.

  34. Lindsay Lake
    There’s nothing wrong with Lindsay Lake being in the book, but it’s there as filler. There is absolutely no reason to turn around at Lindsay Lake when the beautiful Tangled Summit is just ahead of you and also described in the book.

  35. Lower Grouse Mountain
    Good for some exercise, pointless as a destination

  36. Burke Summit
    There are simply better hikes in the area, such as to the Coquitlam Lake Viewpoint. I did camp on top once though in order to get access to the peaks beyond.

  37. Ghostpass Lake
    This lake is nothing special. Save your feet from some wear and hike in from behind, from the head of Sowawqua Creek if you really want to get there.
Continue ReadingWhich 103 Hikes to do in 2022

Slollicum Peak

Date: May 9, 2020

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report: Travel, work, a surgery, kids, and covid have kept my adventuring to a minimum since last spring, but the stars aligned this weekend to allow for a more significant hike to a novel destination. With a forecast of 100% sun, I browsed through my old copy of 103 hikes to look for the nearest hike that I hadn’t already done and was reminded of Slollicum Peak. Slollicum met my criteria of somewhere that seemed safe, was new, and where I strongly suspected we wouldn’t run into any other people all day.

Slollicum Peak is above the east side of Harrison Lake and features an old Sev Heiberg trail up to its summit. My dad and a friend had done the trail perhaps 10 years ago and told me about an overgrown logging road and rough route up to the summit, so I was expecting to find an overgrown trail in poor condition up to snow line and then to wander via our own route up to the summit. What I was surprised to discover was that the logging road sections of trail were completely clear and the trail itself is in tip-top shape and incredibly well marked.

The first crux of the trip was finding the trailhead. Recent logging in the area has added a couple of junctions to the road. To find the trailhead, turn off of Harrison East FSR at 4.8km onto Slollicum FSR, then turn left at the first junction (~200-300m up the road), ignore the minor branch at the first switchback, and then turn left at the next junction. We parked at a clearing just before a steep section of road with a deep waterbar halfway up it, 300-400m before the end of the road (49¬į23’1.44″N, 121¬į44’20.01″W)

Leaving the car at 9am sharp, we walked up the spur right to the end where we found no trail. Consulting our GPS, we realized that the actual trailhead was a couple hundred metres back, about halfway between where we parked and the end of the road. In short, keep your eyes out when walking up this road. The trailhead itself is very well flagged, but easy to miss (49¬į23’12.37″N, 121¬į44’21.59″W)

The trail found, we started up the trail proper at 9:12 am, and followed it through the easy boulder field and forest up to the logging road above. I wonder if its possible to drive onto this upper spur, but given the lack of tire tracks the odds seem against its possibility. After 40 minutes or so up the logging road, we reached the trail proper at about 10:20am (very obvious) and set off up through the forest.

The trail is easy to follow and in great shape, and we followed it up between two creeks until we hit continuous snow at around 1050m. At this point I had thought we’d just have to find our own way, but the route is extremely well marked with fairly new markers and except for a few places where I had to hunt around to find the next marker (oddly there are far more markers visible heading downhill than uphill) we had an easy time following the route up to about 1450m.

The second crux of the trip (other than finding the trailhead) was figuring out the route after the creek crossing around 1150-1200m. After ascending a broad open ridge, the route drops down to a creek and ascends steeply up the far slope. The first few markers were easy to see, but to us it was not obvious at first that the trail traverses the fairly steep slope hard to climber’s left for ~50-100m to reach a short ramp leading once again to easier and well marked terrain.

Somewhere around 1450m we entered fairly open terrain and lost sight of the trail, but from here we were able to follow obvious open slopes leading up to the ridge just south of the summit. From reaching the ridgeline it was less than 5 minutes of hiking along the open ridge to reach the summit. There is some debate about which summit is the true summit, but my GPS topo map shows the southern summit being a few metres higher than the northern one, and so just past 1:15pm we elected to declare success at the first summit we reached. Total ascent time from car: 4 hours 15 minutes.

The views from the summit were simply spectacular. From the summit there are uninterrupted views of the Old Settler, Mt. Urquart, the Cheam range, the Chehalis groups, Mt. Breakenridge, Mt. Baker. Furthermore, the Coquihalla peaks and many peaks in Manning Park were easily identifiable in the distance.

After eating our lunch and enjoying the views, we started our descent at about 1:40pm, and given the snow were able to make great time, crossing the creek at 2:25pm and arriving back at the upper logging road at about 3:05pm. By this point the heat was becoming quite oppressive but we trudged down the road until we found the trail leading down to the car. Walking down this trail we were reminded that we were in the Fraser Valley by the constant cracks of rifle fire. Luckily neither ourselves nor our vehicle were the object of their shooting practice, and we arrived back at the car a few minutes before 4pm where we enjoyed a cold drink in the blistering sun. Total descent time: 2 hours 15 minutes.

To conclude, this trip greatly exceeded my expectations. I wouldn’t choose to do it in the height of summer when there are better opportunities for alpine meadows and scrambling, but for this time of year this was a great choice. The access was easy, the trail was in good condition, and as predicted we never encountered another person, rendering social distancing trivial.

Continue ReadingSlollicum Peak

Hector Ferguson Lake

Date: August 27, 2017

Participants: Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1

Report:  Hector Ferguson Lake is certainly the most notorious of the 103 hikes, not least because its published roundtrip distance of 28km is a gross misunderestimation by any measure and also because of its crossing of Gold Creek.  Nonetheless, as an aspiring completionist, it was finally time to head to the infamous lake.

I posted a trip on the BCMC schedule and failed to find any takers, but managed to convince Nancy and Jeff to come along with the promise that they would make a 7pm dinner in town. ¬†This seemed overly ambitious given that we weren’t going to be able to have a very early start and I managed to dig up a trip report alleging a 13.5 hour round trip time, but nonetheless decided to take advantage of the opportunity and have a go at the lake. ¬†To my surprise, aside from a couple km of nearly destroyed trail on either side of the Gold Creek crossing, it’s quite a pleasant trip!

I was picked up in the morning just past 7, and this meant that we were able to be parked at the East Canyon lot in Golden Ears Park and on the trail at a few minutes past 8.  We brought our bikes and aside from being a bit grunty in short sections, had no difficulty making good time up the East Canyon trail.  We passed Viewpoint beach and at about 5.75km stashed our bikes in the bush beside the trail, a couple hundred metres past where the trail ceased to be reasonable for biking.  Total biking time was a bit over an hour, perhaps around 1:10-1:15.

From where we hid the bikes in the bush, the trail is in great shape (with minor exceptions) until past the 10km marker. ¬†However, there is a certain point around 10.5km where the trail rapidly deteriorates. ¬†Soon after becoming bushy, the trail is just above the creek and there is some flagging leading down to it as well as flagging leading straight ahead. ¬†We tried following the trail above the creek, but it’s terrible and quickly backtracked and went down to the creek, following it to a sandbar where the river makes a hard turn to hiker’s left. ¬†This is the only point where the route was not obvious. ¬†You’ll see the trail above the creek descending down to you on your right, but continue straight ahead into the bush to find flagging and a continuation of the trail to the crossing over Gold Creek.

This is where the trail is simply destroyed.  It is only a few hundred metres, but trees have fallen over left, right, and centre.  With a bit of creativity though it was possible to stay on top of many of the trees and make our way across the mess, through a few minutes of badly overgrown trail, and pop out onto the beach just 50m downstream of where you need to cross Gold Creek.  Look for the obvious flagging on the far side of the creek.  I crossed the creek on some logs about 50m downstream of the flagging, and Nancy and Jeff simply took off their shoes and waded through the slightly-above-ankle deep water to the far side.  Total time from car to Gold Creek crossing: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

From the far side of Gold Creek, the trail heads through the bush for a few minutes to the easy crossing over Hector Ferguson Creek, and continues through blow down and berry bushes as it starts its ascent towards Hector Ferguson Lake.  At first the trail is in quite bad shape, but after a short while becomes much better.  The trail is extremely well flagged, and while not too quick due to all of the branch dodging and occasional bushy section, was easy enough to follow all the way up to Hector Ferguson Lake.  Total time to lake: 4 hours, 15 minutes.

I was so happy to be there! ¬†At last, Hector Ferguson Lake! ¬†The lake itself isn’t anything special, just any other lake in the mountain, but it’s pleasant enough and we had a good lunch before starting our descent.

Our descent from Hector Ferguson Lake to Gold Creek was as slow as our ascent.  I attributed this to a remarkable drop in our enthusiasm, but after a refreshing foot and leg dip in Gold Creek we felt rejuvenated enough to head back down the East Canyon Trail to the parking lot.  It took us almost an hour and a half back to our bikes, but other than the initial hill climb just past the East/West Canyon trails connector bridge, the trail is entirely downhill to the cars and we made it back to our car at a quarter to 5.  Total time from lake to parking lot: 4 hours, 9 minutes.

In the end, I enjoyed the trip a lot more than I expected I would. ¬†It’s close to town, features a lot of pleasant and varied terrain, and was a rather nice way to spend a hot day near the city. ¬†The bikes helped a lot, and allowed us to do the round trip in less than 9 hours, moving quickly but never racing (speed at getting over small logs a big plus). ¬†The only real problem with the trail is the amount of bush that is encroaching on it. ¬†The good news is that it’s 99% minor bush, and if a couple parties were to do the round trip with shears in their hands, just clipping away as they travelled up and down, the trail would quickly be in pretty good shape again. ¬†If you’re thinking of heading in, maybe bring some with you and help out your fellow hikers!

Note: For comfort, recommended to bring a GPS track of the trail with you.  The GPS track on open street map of the east canyon trail is complete and appeared to be accurate.

Continue ReadingHector Ferguson Lake

Cathedral Park 2017

Date: July 28-31, 2017

Participants: Eira Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger, Ed Zenger, Leslie Zenger, Peter Zenger, Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace

Difficulty: 1-3

Report: Ever since Brittany and I climbed the Matriach-Macabre-Grimface traverse from Wall Creek back in 2013 I had the idea in my head to book a cabin at Cathedral Lakes Lodge for the whole extended family and explore the core part of Cathedral Park.  Earlier this year, Brittany and I finally got our act together and pulled the trigger to organize a 4 day trip into the park.

We all met on the night of the 27th at a Keremeos campground so that we wouldn’t have to drive too far the next morning to meet our 10am ride from Cathedral Lakes base camp up to the lodge compound at Quiniscoe Lake, and after a poor night’s sleep due to the sun waking Eira at 4:45am, we drove down Ashnola Creek road to meet our ride in. ¬†Lucky for us, as we were going to be staying in Tom’s cabin, which is a few minutes walk above the lodge we all got to ride in a comfortable Suburban rather than the dusty Unimog with the other campers that morning. ¬†The ride in takes about an hour and was made enjoyable by our driver, Ernie, and by noon we had all our belongings in the cabin and sat down for lunch.

Now, this is my largely my fault for not doing research beforehand, but I had no idea how nice the cabin was going to be.  We had a 4 bedroom cabin with sheets and sleeping room for 8 people, running hot water, as well as a stove and fridge!  True luxury!

As we ate lunch the valley filled with smoke from a fire burning south of the border in the Paysayten Wilderness, and Peter developed a fever that would stay with him for the next 4 days. ¬†However, I was motivated to make it up all the remaining scrambles in the park and convinced my dad, Nancy, and Jeff to head out with me in the smoke to climb the east ridge of Pyramid Mountain. ¬†This is a fun and easy half-day scramble from Quiniscoe Lake. ¬†There is no exposure on the route and we made it to the summit in roughly 2 hours from the lake. ¬†By the time we reached the summit, the smoke had started to subside, and from the summit we rambled along the ridge to Devil’s Woodpile, and down to the col to the south of Quiniscoe Peak. ¬†From here, Jeff and I decided to take the long way back via Quiniscoe Mountain and Red Mountain while the others descended directly to Quiniscoe Lake. ¬†Total round trip time for Jeff and I was about 4.5 hours.

The following day, all of us except Peter headed up to Lakeview Mountain via the Centennial Trail (note: this is not the route indicated in Gunn’s book. ¬†We used that route for the descent). ¬†The smoke had cleared completely by morning, and although it’s very heavy to carry an 18 month old baby all day, we shared the load around and ascended through wonderful meadows on the long gentle climb to Lakeview Mountain. ¬†All day we could see the thick smoke to our south but it never quite encroached on us or severely diminished our views. ¬†From the summit, everyone except for Nancy, Jeff, and I decided to head back down the way we ascended, but the 3 of us descended the south ridge of Lakeview on a good trail and made a quick jaunt up to the summit of Boxcar mountain. ¬†From here we faced a decision of whether to return to the Lakeview-Boxcar col and follow the trail from there down to Goat Lake, or whether to continue to the south and head up Denture Ridge before descending to Goat Lake. ¬†In the end, the decision was simple to head directly down as the smoke was starting to close in, and I found myself as able to justify not going up Denture Ridge because of how close to its high point I’d been on aforementioned trip to Matriarch. ¬†The descent to Goat Lake was quick, and we caught up to the rest of the group not far past the Goat Lake – Centennial Trail junction, at which point I resumed my baby carrying duties.

On the Sunday, Peter was feeling well enough in the morning to join us for the beginning of our hike. ¬†The goal was to make a circle, heading to Glacier Lake, then to Stone City, Smokey the Bear, the Giant Cleft, and then down via the Ladyslipper Lake trail and back to the cabin. ¬†Peter and Leslie only made it as far as Glacier Lake before returning to the cabin on account of illness, but the rest of us continued upwards and made the full loop as described. ¬†Smokey the Bear was worth checking out, but I wouldn’t really recommend people go check out the Giant Cleft. ¬†It’s a neat formation, but if you’ve spent time in the mountains you’ve seen similar features before and visiting it requires significant elevation loss from Smokey the Bear. ¬†In all, the loop took us nearly 7 hours.

For our final day, a few of us hiked around the lakes near the cabin, and spent the midday rowing boats around Quiniscoe Lake, although both my mom and dad chose to hike the Diamond Loop trail, which apparently has the best flower meadows of any trail in the core park.  After this, we packed up and caught our scheduled ride back down to our cars.  On the way out we stopped as usual at Benji Thai in Keremeos, and then had a terribly long drive home because a logging truck had dumped logs all over highway 3 near Manning Park and we were detoured from Princeton to Merritt in order to drive the Coquihalla to get back home to the Lower Mainland.  Oh well.

In all, this was a terrific trip, and I am very grateful that my whole family was able to join our experience.  The cabin exceeded all my expectations and the staff of the lodge were friendly and very helpful.  Highly recommended for everyone!

Continue ReadingCathedral Park 2017

Mt. Lindeman

Date: July 24, 2017

Participants: Ed Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report:¬†Mt. Lindeman is the tallest peak immediately west of Chilliwack Lake, taller than Mt. Webb and Macdonald Peak, and until recently access involved either a long “class 5” bushwack up to Hanging Lake from the south end of Chilliwack Lake or a nearly 3000m day to go via Radium Lake and head up and over Macdonald Peak. ¬†Lucky for us mortals, Harry and the Chilliwack Outdoors Club built a wonderful new trail to Mt. Lindeman last year!

The crux of the trip was finding the right place to park. ¬†This isn’t because it’s not obvious, but rather that the directions to the trailhead that I found online and was following were simply wrong, and we wasted half an hour in the morning dinging up my car and exploring the wrong logging roads. ¬†However, finding the trailhead is in fact easy. ¬†Turn off the Chilliwack Lake Road at the signed turnoff for the Slesse Memorial Trail and cross the two small bridges over the Chilliwack River. ¬†Reset your odometer as your turn off of Chilliwack Lake Road, and once over the bridges, turn left at the first junction (right heads up Nesakwatch Creek to the Slesse Memorial Trail trailhead). ¬†The road parallels the river for close to 5km before turning right and heading up Centre Creek. ¬†While driving up Centre Creek FSR, follow the most travelled road, staying low in the valley (i.e. to the right) and avoiding all roads turning off to the left. ¬†Park at 10.2km from Chilliwack Lake Road, at a fork in the road. ¬†At this point the east ridge of Rexford will be looming large above you. ¬†The right hand fork is overgrown and not drivable, and this is the road you will be hiking up to start your hike. ¬† The road to the left is the wrong way, and after switching back, goes up past many large waterbars to a recent clearcut. ¬†Do not drive up this road. ¬†Note that the road to the trailhead is in good shape, with only some minor ditches and could be reached in any 4wd vehicle, such as any little Subaru.

The first few kilometres of the route to Mt. Lindeman follow the overgrown road (the right-hand fork from the 10.2km parking) as it gently ascends beside Centre Creek until about 40 minutes later it reaches the creek coming down from the valley below Mt. Lindeman. ¬†At this point you make a hard turn to the left, going past a metal sign reading “Mt. Lindeman trail”, and proceed to hike straight up the mountain for a few hundred metres. ¬†This trail is well flagged and in great shape, and after easing up a bit, heads into the valley to the northwest of Mt. Lindeman, reaching some meadows. ¬†We had started hiking just past 9:30am, and reached the meadows at around 11:10. ¬†At the far end of the meadow the trail disappears when it reaches some large boulders, and we made the mistake of bushwacking through the boggy meadow to our left. ¬†As we learned later, it is better to simply go through the large boulders en route to the main boulder gully that can be seen ahead.

Here we took a break and began our route up the main boulder gully (the right hand one) at around 11:30, and reached the main valley above about 40 minutes later.  From here the route is obvious to the col between the ascent valley and Upper Hanging Lake, which we reached just before 1 pm and here we sat down to eat lunch.  From this point, the goal is to make an ascending traverse across the basin to the steep grassy slopes heading up towards the summit.  We shortcutted across the snow to hit the grass and boulders on the far side of the basin, and while the slopes on the other side are steep, it is no problem to ascend them without getting into any 3rd class terrain.  The summit was reached at a bit past 2:15pm, for a total ascent time of a bit over 4.5 hours.

Mt. Lindeman might have the best views of any mountain near Vancouver.  From the summit there are clear views of Rexford, Slesse, Baker, Shuksan, Williams, Bear, Redoubt, the whole Cheam range, as well as the Pickets, Silvertip group, and usual peaks north of the Fraser Valley.

We hung out on the peak for quite a while to take it all in, and finally departed at around 3.  The descent was made very quick by glissading down snowslopes in the upper basins, followed by the excellent trail down to the valley.  The final few km down the overgrown road back to the car were sloggy and annoying, but nonetheless we made it to the car at 5:40pm, for a total descent time of a bit over 2.5 hours and a round trip time of 8 hours.  Note that we were moving pretty quick due to the late start and I would recommend allowing more than 8 hours for most parties.

I highly recommend Mt. Lindeman.  With the trail in its current shape it belongs in the list of top 10 SW BC hikes.  A must do!

Continue ReadingMt. Lindeman

Deeks Peak (2017)

Date: July 8, 2017

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2

Report: Brittany, Eira, and I arrived home a day earlier than expected from Hornby Island, and with great looking weather coming the following day, we decided to have a go at Deeks peak.  I had a failed attempt of Deeks on skis back in December and I was eager for the opportunity to deal with unfinished business.

Much like last year when heading to Mt. Hanover, we drove up the Deeks road for ~3.2km to just before the final steep rise on the road and parked here so as to not destroy the XTerra on the final stretch of road. ¬†The road seemed to be in even worse shape than last year and it’s getting to the point where I might just give in and park by the highway the next time I head up towards Deeks Lake.

We left the car at 8:25 and started our march up towards Deeks. ¬†About half an hour up the Deeks lake trail there is a marker on a tree pointing towards the “Bypass trail”, and this is the route we chose for our ascent. ¬†The “bypass trail” (aka “Deeks direct”, aka “Deeks W Ridge direct”) is the most direct trail up to the summit of Deeks but is in need of some love and care. ¬†There are a few places on the trail where we were left hunting around wondering where the next ribbon was, but for the most part it is obvious enough to follow. ¬†The only point with real confusion was where the trail popped out onto a boulder field and it wasn’t obvious that the trail continued to directly up and to the right without ever crossing the boulders. ¬†That said, with a bit of work, I could see this trail becoming very popular as it really is a fantastic route.

As the trail nears treeline it became increasingly steep, overgrown and buggy, but by noon we were clear from the trees, and although we lost the trail markers we headed up straight for the summit without any difficulties, and were on top by 12:45.  The air was clear and the views were great, so we stopped for a lunch and to ponder our way down, eventually deciding to descend towards the Deeks-Windsor col to find the regular trail down to Deeks Lake.

We started our descent at 1:30 and quickly discovered that the route down the east side of Deeks (towards the Deeks-Windsor) col is steep, not travelled very often, and hard to follow with occasional snow patches obscuring the footbed.  Nonetheless, we managed to follow the route all the way to the final bump above the col, where we lost it.  Unfortunately we turned off the ridge too early and instead of going up and over the final minor bump we turned to our right and worked our way down a very steep, unpleasant, and precarious bushy slope until we found the flagging from the proper trail from Deeks joining us from the left.  From here it was just a couple minutes walk to meet the main trail heading up to Windsor.  Unlike the Deeks trail, this trail was in fine condition and we were able to make our way down to Deeks Lake, where we arrived at 3:45 and stopped for our final snack of the day.

From Deeks Lake it was the familiar old slog down to the car, which we reached at 5:15 for a total round trip time of just under 9 hours. ¬†As it stands now, I wouldn’t recommend Deeks over the other peaks in the area like Brunswick or Harvey, but with a bit of work on the bypass trail, Deeks could once again be a north shore classic.



Continue ReadingDeeks Peak (2017)

Capilano Mountain

Date: July 1, 2016

Participants: Steve White, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 2 (hands needed for a few short steps, easy snow)

Report: A promising forecast for Canada Day led me to post a trip on the BCMC schedule and look for some company to join me on an excursion up Capilano Mountain.  I lucked out and Steve volunteered to join me, but we both ran out of luck when the forecast turned out to be dead wrong and we spent most of the day in the rain and fog.

The gate at the bottom of Phyllis Creek road¬†is permanently locked, and so we parked in the pullout right below the gate at the edge of Furry Creek golf course, and by 8:10 we had our bikes good to go and started up towards Capilano Mountain. ¬†The road was easier than I remembered driving years ago, and we¬†only had to push the bikes up two short hills en route to the turnoff to Downing Creek road, which would take us to the Beth Lake trailhead. ¬†Route notes: on Phyllis Creek road, take a right at the first fork and always follow the most well used path up to the turnoff, which is just before the 4km marker, not just past as Matt Gunn’s guidebook indicates.

About 100m after turning on to Downing Creek road, we crossed Phyllis Creek, and the road began to deteriorate as the alder encroached on the path. ¬†A few hundred metres later we started to encounter lots of small windfall, and about 500m from the turnoff we gave up on the bikes and left them in a ditch. ¬†This proved to be wise as the road became increasingly overgrown from this point and bikes wouldn’t have helped at on all the descent beyond this point. ¬†As a result, we had to travel¬†the remaining 2.5km to the old Beth Lake trailhead on foot.

The first 0.5-1km of the trail up to Beth Lake is badly overgrown with a variety of bushes, including devils club and plenty of blueberries. ¬†Making matters worse, the skies had opened and by the time we reached the older growth above we were thoroughly soaked. ¬†We persevered nonetheless. ¬†At this time the trail is easy enough to follow, although it won’t be too many years until the trail becomes a challenge to hike unless someone heads up and clears the trail up to the old growth.

We reached Beth Lake at around 11:00, and as we stopped for a quick snack and drink, the clouds descended and we had our first experience with the fog that would engulf us until we reached our bikes again later in the day.  From the lake, the trail is a bit of a mess for the first 10 minutes as it traverses onto the ridge to the west of the lake, but soon improves and until we reached snow at around 1300m it was in good shape.

Above treeline the route is fairly well marked with cairns and we had little difficulty following it until near the col west of the summit (south of Gordon lake), but as the fog became even more dense, we had to check a GPS route a couple times to determine the right way to proceed.  The summit block itself was quite easy to ascend, mostly on snow except for a steep step near the summit where we moved onto the rocks and heather to the side of the gully.  We reached the summit at about 1:50 and were treated to glorious views of fog and more fog.

In the fog we started down the summit in the wrong direction, but noticed our mistake quickly and found our tracks in the snow to follow back down.  The descent down to the bikes was aided greatly by the snow and we were back down at the lake in what seemed like no time.  From the lake down to the bikes was an annoying combination of bush and logging road walking, but once we reached the bikes, all was better.  There are few experiences in life I enjoy better than coasting down a logging road on a bike at the end of a long hike, revelling in the thought that some poor souls have had to suffer the long logging road descent on foot.  The bike descent was fast and fun, and soon enough we were back at our vehicle, just in time to witness the skies begin to clear.

Thank you very much Steve for joining me on this adventure. ¬†There were no views, and the conditions weren’t great, but at least Capilano mountain has been bagged at last.

Total ascent time: 5 hours, 40 minutes.  Total descent time: approx. 3 hours.


Continue ReadingCapilano Mountain

Silverdaisy Mountain (2015)

Date: April 26, 2015

Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger

Difficulty: 1

Report:¬†Silverdaisy attempt #2! ¬†We tried skiing Silverdaisy just after new years a few years ago but it had snowed heavily in the few days before our trip and we ran out of time after slogging up the old mining/logging road from Cayuse Flats. ¬†This time we’d be much more successful ascending from the other side

We arrived at the Sumallo Grove parking lot at about 9am and 10 minutes later were on our way.  We were a bit worried about recent snowfall and whether the trail through the forest would be followable, but it turns out that the trail is well defined (generally on an old double-track path) and well marked and we had no problems following it even once we encountered deep snow at about 1400m.  The trail is a starting to get quick a bit of deadfall on it, especially lower down so if anyone wants to organize a trail clearing day this fall and is wondering where to go, keep the Silverdaisy trail in mind.

Leaving the car at 9:10, it was a bit under 20 minutes to the Silverdaisy trail turnoff. ¬†The trail switchbacks steeply up the side of the mountain before easing off slightly as it heads into the long valley splitting Silverdaisy and Hatchethead. ¬†It wasn’t long after entering the valley that we first encountered snow, at first a little and soon a lot. ¬†There were a few places we had to look around to find the flagging early on, but the trail quickly reaches an old road, at which point it’s obvious where to go to ascent to the col between Silverdaisy and Claimstake mountain. ¬†About 200m below the col the snow became extremely mushy and we put on snowshoes to ease the ascent. ¬†Looking over at Claimstake/Hatchethead on the ascent, it looks like in the¬†winter there could be some really nice ski lines available.

Total time to the col: 4 hours. ¬†From the col it’s an easy broad ridge ascent through sub-alpine terrain to the summit and we had a great day for it. ¬†Light overcast, cool, completely clear views. ¬†Ascending the ridge took nearly exactly an hour, and at about a quarter past 2 we were on the summit, gazing at the views of Hozameen, Silvertip, Frosty,¬†Brice and Outram. ¬†Brice in particular looked like it’d have some fantastic winter ice lines on it for the hardcore crowd.

We didn’t linger long on the summit because the wind picked up, and headed off down the snow. ¬†Descending the snow was no problem at all and very fast. ¬†The trail out was a real slog once the snow ended, but easy enough, and we made it back to the parking lot right at 6 o’clock, for a total round trip time of just a bit under 9 hours. ¬†I probably wouldn’t spend a summer day on this hike when there are more exciting ones to do, but for an early season ascent, this was a great trip!

P.S. I found out that on the same day we did Silverdaisy, another party took the same trail up but cut off of it to do a traverse of Hatchethead and Claimstake mountains, descending to the Silverdaisy-Claimstake col, and then back down to the cars… an idea for next year?



Continue ReadingSilverdaisy Mountain (2015)