Posted on Leave a comment

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C.

cream-lake-trail,-strathcona-park-bc.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

“Time to roll out every superlative and accolade …

Cream Lake is breathtaking in every season … a scenic highlight of Vancouver Island, for that matter British Columbia!”

Phillip Stone – Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 2
Cream Lake looking over to Nine Peaks

The Bedwell Lakes trails are some of the best in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 3

The up-and-back Bedwell Lake Trail:

      • 10km return
      • 1-3 days
      • 875m elevation gain/loss
      • Bedwell Lake lookout  980m 
      • pay camping fee at trailhead (CAD $10 / person in 2020)
      • Baby Bedwell has only lake water. No creeks nearby.
      • no electricity nor mobile phone service. I carried a solar charger.
Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 4
Bedwell Lake lookout

If you get this far, definitely continue to Cream Lake.  It’s an extra 4.8km one way, tougher hiking.

  • 20km return from Jim Mitchell Lake Road trailhead 
  • 1-3 days (tough day hike)
  • Elevation gain/loss 1225m one way
  • High Point 1400m
  • Free camping at Cream

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 5

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF)

CAUTION – A hiker died here in 2015, Anders Jason Newman. He slipped and fell from height somewhere above the lakes.

Click PLAY or watch a short video of my September hike on YouTube.


Cycled to the Bedwell trailhead, walking the last 3km as Jim Mitchell Lake road is steep!

Arriving late in the day, I ended up setting up my tent off trail short of the first campground.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 6

Here’s the lovely Baby Bedwell campground I missed the previous day.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 7

I continued up to Bedwell Lake campground looking for the sign to Cream Lake. There was none in 2020.

Take the path towards the fancy pit toilet and keep going.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 8

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 9

Here’s Bedwell Lake looking down from above.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 10

The trail to Bedwell I’d call moderate difficulty. The route to Cream more challenging.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 11

There’s some route finding, as well, before reaching Little Jim Lake.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 12

Once above Little Jim Lake on a hot day, I felt I was in California’s Sierra Nevadas, not the Pacific N.W.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 13

There’s some scrambling. Granite. Gullies. But very little exposure.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 14

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 15

Up here the wildflowers were in better shape than below. On the other hand, mosquitoes!

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 16

My first view of Cream Lake made it obvious why this hike is so popular. The colour is otherworldly.

Apparently you can see Della Falls from here too.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 17

There’s no official campground. I set up my tent with a bit of wind protection.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 18

Cream is base camp for those climbing Mt Septimus.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 19

In snow or rain there are a couple of protected spots under a huge boulder.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 20

Before dinner I scrambled up on to the approach to Septimus.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 21

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 22

Early next morning I attempted to circumambulate the lake. Did not make it.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 23

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 24

But the views were fantastic.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 25

In the afternoon, the only two other hikers that night and myself decided to scramble Septimus as high as we could safely without mountaineering gear.

We knew it was possible but difficult to hike to the top without climbing equipment.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 26

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 27

We eventually turned back due to crevasses in the ice.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 28

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 29

For fun I tried down climbing the mountain rather than the scree. Nope. That did not work. I got cliffed out.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C. 30

On a day like this I’d rank Bedwell / Cream Lake the BEST HIKE in Strathcona Provincial Park.

Share this
Posted on Leave a comment

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C.

hiking-elk-pass,-strathcona-park-bc.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

As there is not much information online about Elk Pass, I put together a video.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Easy access from Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 31

The Elk River Trail in Strathcona Provincial Park is super popular. But not many hikers continue to Elk Pass (in yellow).

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 32
from Exploring Strathcona Park by Stone

For one thing, it’s not easy to find the Elk Pass trailhead.

Everyone sees the damaged sign pointing to Landslide Lake.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 33

From there, search the trees on the left and you’ll find the high and overgrown Elk Pass sign.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 34

Very quickly you realize Elk Pass is no trail. It’s a route you try to follow using bits of flagging tape and cairns.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 35

Demanding hiking.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 36

You’ll have to navigate dozens of blowdowns.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 37

Worst was this dry log jam.  I bushwhacked around, finding a bypass trail on my return.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 38

In some cases multiple route options have been flagged by past hikers. I somehow missed the unofficial “Hemlock” Campground.

Instead I bashed on up the Elk River valley.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 39

With no better option, I finally decided to build a flat platform on the snow.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 40

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 41
7:45pm

Great camp, actually. But there’s always the risk more snow will fall from high up Mt Rambler.

In addition, mosquitoes were terrible at higher elevation.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 42

Next morning dawned another lovely day.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 43

It didn’t take long to reach the bowl below Elk Pass.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 44

There are some campsites near tarns.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 45

Up there!.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 46

And it didn’t take long.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 47
Elk Pass 1540m

Here’s the view back down the valley from the Pass.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 48

At the top I spoke briefly with a couple attempting the long, challenging Golden Hinde Traverse. (47km 5-8 days)

Did they make it?  I’m not sure.

One hiking group did complete the Golden Hinde(less) Traverse between July 18-24, 2020.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 49

I too carried 8 days food with faint hope of continuing on the Traverse. But decided it was too difficult, remote and dangerous to do solo. What if I got hurt?

In fact, I fell badly twice on the Elk Pass trail: scratches and bruises.

But I did continue part way over the Pass towards this large unnamed lake, a continuation of the Traverse.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 50

Backtracking, I decided to traverse/scramble up to the next pass to the S.W. of Elk. That turned out to be the highlight.

Big vistas over low clouds.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 51

From there it was down, down, down.  Back into the trees.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 52 hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 53 hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 54

I found hiking down even more challenging than on the way up.

It was nearly 6pm by the time I reached “Hemlock”, the unofficial camp I’d missed the previous night.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 55

It’s named for huge Hemlock trees.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 56

About 8pm I began hearing bombs dropping.

Loud.

Turns out it was a squirrel cutting down pinecones. From on high.

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 57

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C. 58

Next morning I returned to the highway via the Elk River trail.

Great hike.

Share this
Posted on Leave a comment

Barney (Scout) Mann’s Pacific Crest Trail book

barney-(scout)-mann’s-pacific-crest-trail-book

In Journeys North, legendary trail angel, thru hiker, and former PCTA board chair Scout spins compelling tales of hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007 as they walk from Mexico to Canada.

That year terrible snow storms rocked the Canadian border starting the last days in September.

Barney (Scout) Mann hiked with wife Sandy (Frodo) Mann, and recounts fascinating stories of others they traveled alongside that season.

For me, Blazer was the most interesting.

The book is unusual.  Not your standard step-by-step trail journal.

Instead the time line jumps forward and back along the trail, using PCT anecdotes to illustrate bigger life lessons.

If asked to recommend just one book on the PCT, Journeys North would be it.  The best starting point for a hiker considering it. 

Other excellent and inspiring reads include:

Amazon

Barney (Scout) Mann’s Pacific Crest Trail book 59

Barney Scout Mann has hiked the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails. He has been board chair of the Pacific Crest Trail Association and is president of the Partnership for the National Trails System. Mann has been recognized with a Lowell Thomas Journalism Award and is the coauthor of The Pacific Crest Trail: Exploring America’s Wilderness Trail and author of The Continental Divide Trail: Exploring America’s Ridgeline Trail. He and his wife, Sandy, live in San Diego and have hosted more than 7,000 PCT hikers. Visit him online at BarneyScoutMann.com.

 

 

Share this
Posted on Leave a comment

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C.

elk-river-trail-to-landslide-lake,-strathcona-park-bc.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 60
photo – World Wild Hearts

Click PLAY or watch a short video on YouTube.

See how poorly my own video compares with that one.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Easy access from Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 61
Click for Google map

The up-and-back Elk River trail to Landslide Lake is one of the best hikes in Canada. 

  • 22km return
  • 1-3 days
  • 875m elevation gain/loss
  • Landslide lake  890m
  • pay camping fee at trailhead (CAD $10 / person in 2020)
  • no electricity nor mobile phone service. I carried a solar charger.
  • Phillip Stone – Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook

This is classic temperate rain forest. Old growth following the Elk River.

I got to the trailhead late in the afternoon early September.

Made the decision to hike only as far as the Butterwort campground (6km) rather than the more popular Upper Gravel Bar campground (9km).

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 62
map from Stone guidebook

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 63

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 64

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 65

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 66

The two campgrounds are literally gravel bars. Nothing fancy.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 67
Butterwort campground

Next morning I headed on towards the Upper Gravel Bar campground.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 68

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 69

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 70
crazy weird mushrooms

In 2020 the old pit toilets were being replaced. Temporary tent toilets in place.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 71

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 72

Both campgrounds offer a chance to protect your food from bears.  I also had cheeky rodents appear twice at dinner while camping in the Elk River.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 73

The highlight of the Elk River Trail is the last 1km scramble up to Landslide Lake.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 74

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 75

The colours are gorgeous.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 76

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 77

Landslide Lake was changed to the current form in 1946 by Canada’s largest recorded earthquake on land, measuring 7.2, centred in the nearby Forbidden Plateau area. The North Tower of Mount Colonel Foster sheared off, much of it collapsing into the lake.

Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C. 78

related – MB Guiding – Elk River Trail

Share this
Posted on Leave a comment

super hiker Mary Cochenour

super-hiker-mary-cochenour

Tune in to this week’s episode of the Out and Back podcast as Mary tells a thrilling tale about her early days as a wilderness ranger in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Hear about her first night spent alone in the wilderness and what happened months later when she discovered that a man had been following her around the backcountry. …

Mary … is the Out and Back podcast producer and a writer and editor at Gaia GPS.

When she is not in the office, Mary works as a guide for Andrew Skurka Adventures in wild places around the west, like Rocky Mountain National Park, Yosemite, and the Brooks Range in Alaska. …

Click through to listen to the story online:

Solo Backpacking with a Stalker

super hiker Mary Cochenour 79

Share this
Posted on Leave a comment

Hiking the Indian Himalaya Independently

hiking-the-indian-himalaya-independently

It’s easy to hike Nepal independently.

Not so India.

I did Markha Valley independently.  But for Kuari Pass I finally signed on with a guided trek.

The hiking infrastructure in India is not well developed.  Getting to and from trailheads often a headache.  Next time I go to India I’ll likely sign on for trips guided by IndiaHikes.

One bit of good news.

Peter Van Geit has been creating detailed hiking maps of the Indian Himalaya.

So far, he has pulled together over 1,000 trails across Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

It shows 600 passes, 700 high-altitude lakes and more than 10,000 reference points. …

It allows hikers to see elevation profiles and download GPS logs onto their phones rather than having to carry multiple, less detailed paper maps.

“The map has more trails than anyone could ever cover in a lifetime,” he says.

“It took me months to plan a long traverse across the Himalaya. With this new digital map, you have all the information in a single place.” …

Everything is open sourced, so can be accessed with any Open Street Maps viewer or mobile app (for free). Other hikers can add information to it and help the resource grow. …

ExplorersWeb

Hiking the Indian Himalaya Independently 80

Hiking the Indian Himalaya Independently 81

Share this
Posted on Leave a comment

Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit WITHOUT booking

lake-o’hara-alpine-circuit-without-booking

Our favourite hiking area in the Canadian Rockies is Lake O’Hara. 

But it’s extremely difficult to get a reservation.

Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit WITHOUT booking 82

Our friends at travel2walk did the famed circuit the hard way:

  • distance: 14.3 miles (23.0 km)
  • elevation change: 4651 ft. ascent (1418 m) & 3228 ft. descent (984 m)
  • time: 8:23 hours (7:17 moving)

They hiked in 6.9 miles (11 km) on the Lake O’Hara fire road.  Did the Circuit.  And were lucky enough to get seats on the 4:30pm bus out (CAD$9.75 fee per person cash).

Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit WITHOUT booking 83

Read their August 2019 Trip Report:

Yoho National Park – Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit

 

To learn more check out Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit information page.

Autumn is a good time to make the long day hike, by the way.

Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit WITHOUT booking 84

Share this
Posted on Leave a comment

The American Perimeter Trail

the-american-perimeter-trail

Planned is a a 12,000-mile loop of existing trails, roads, and off-trail travel.

Something like this.

The American Perimeter Trail 86

Rue McKenrick, a triple crown veteran, walked away from his home in Bend.  And is inventing the route as he goes along.

When COVID-19 hit, Rue kept hiking — but

no longer resupplied in towns, relying on a 7 day resupply box which was sent to remote post offices. I utilized lesser known trails and continued up the east coast on the avoiding the popular, but closed Appalachian trail. …”

It’s a work in progress.

Click through for details:

americanperimetertrailproject.weebly.com

I learned of this project via the Out and Back podcast interview – episode 10 – Rue McKenrick and the American Perimeter Trail

Share this