19 Mile Creek to Iceberg Lake, Whistler B.C.

Outdoor Vancouver posted an an excellent information page:

Rating: Difficult
Distance: 15 km
Net Elevation Change*: 889 m
Highest Point: 1,628 m
Time Needed: 7 Hours
Type: Out-and-back

Season: July – September
Dogs Allowed: No (not permitted in the Rainbow Mountain Alpine Trail Network)
Est. Driving Time from Vancouver: 2 Hours

Iceberg Lake Hike in Whistler

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Cream Lake trail, Strathcona Park B.C.

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 looking over to Nine Peaks

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

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.
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

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.

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

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.

Here’s Bedwell Lake looking down from above.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Cream is base camp for those climbing Mt Septimus.

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

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

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

But the views were fantastic.

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.

We eventually turned back due to crevasses in the ice.

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

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

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C.

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.

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

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.

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

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

Demanding hiking.

You’ll have to navigate dozens of blowdowns.

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

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.

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

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.

Next morning dawned another lovely day.

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

There are some campsites near tarns.

Up there!.

And it didn’t take long.

Elk Pass 1540m

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

It’s named for huge Hemlock trees.

About 8pm I began hearing bombs dropping.

Loud.

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

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

Great hike.

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

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

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.

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).

map from Stone guidebook

The two campgrounds are literally gravel bars. Nothing fancy.

Butterwort campground

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

crazy weird mushrooms

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

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.

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

The colours are gorgeous.

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.

related – MB Guiding – Elk River Trail

From the lake I backtracked 1km to find the Elk Pass trailhead, a challenging extension not made by many hikers.

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

Golden Hinde Traverse, Strathcona Vancouver Island

BestHike editor Rick McCharles

UPDATE.  I didn’t get very far on the Traverse finding it too difficult and dangerous to hike solo.  I’ll go with a group next time. 

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

I did complete the first two sections:

      1. Elk River Trail
      2. Elk Pass Trail

ORIGINAL POST from Sept 2, 2020 below:

Heading for Strathcona Provincial Park September 3rd.

Hoping to climb Golden Hinde, the highest mountain on Vancouver Island 2,195 m (7,201 ft).  September should have drier trails. Fewer bugs. … Hopefully.

Many try and fail to get to this summit.  It’s a scramble up snow or rock at the top.

The mountain took its name from Sir Francis Drake‘s ship, the Golden Hind, named by an early fur-trading captain who was reminded of Drake’s ship as sunset hit the mountain

Jes Scott made it August 2019.  Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Jes had tried and failed in 2017.

My plan is to hike the 47km Golden Hinde Traverse on the Elk River trail through to Myra Falls. I’ll only attempt the summit as a detour if conditions, health, time and weather permit. No pressure.  🙂

Cost for a guided climb is about CAD $1500 for 5 days.

 

 

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.

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).

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.

Mt Assiniboine: Windy Ridge

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

I was up early at Magog campground.

This was the first campground cook house I’d seen open since the COVID-19 shutdown.

We had deer and elk hanging out.  I assume they are looking for salt from hiker urine.

Not many do Windy Ridge from Magog as it’s a long day hike.  We loved it.

Alpine meadows.  Quite flat.

Windy Ridge looked pretty easy.  None of us had been there before.

At the top we found a narrow ridge connecting a viewpoint.

We had a view over the other side we’d not seen yet.

Here’s the view back to Assiniboine.

Henry and Sam climbed up on to a sketchy nearby peak.

I messed around on the Cliff edge.

Jack’s knee was bothering him.  He sat back and enjoyed the wild flowers.

Click PLAY or watch a short video of the adventure on YouTube.

NEXT MORNING we flew out to Shark by Helicopter.  Cost about CAD $185 one way.

The chopper only flies 3 days / week. Flying out fit our work schedules better. And hiking uphill is easier on the knees for many. 

Assiniboine Lodge

Here’s our last look at the big mountain.

Great trip!

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Mt Assiniboine: Chuck’s and Nub Peak

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Magog campground in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, B.C. has 40 sites, all good.

Supposedly 100% booked, quite a few were empty. We assumed people had forgotten to cancel.

Though it had rained much of the night, morning was gorgeous.

We set off for Nub Peak as it’s typically the most popular day hike out of Magog.  One you want to do in good weather.

What’s this? An artist working on his NUDE HIKING CALENDAR photos.

We passed Sunburst, Cerulean, and Elizabeth Lakes.

Though I could name mountains and tell you our GPS coordinates, somehow we got lost.

The trail sign said Chuck’s Ridge, so we decided to check it out.

I couldn’t recall having climbed up here on past trips.   Chuck’s Ridge is excellent.

Mosquitoes at Magog were bad, as they have been everywhere in 2020. (They were bad here in 2019, as well.)

Rather than apply skin poison, for protection from the tiny vampires, I wear baggy nylon clothing instead. Even when it’s hot.

On the return from Chuck’s, somebody had the bright idea to scramble up to Nub, rather than backtrack to the correct trailhead.

As you would expect, that didn’t work.

When it got too dangerous, we decided to scree back down the way we came

This about finished my worn out Merrell Moabs.

Click PLAY or watch our scramble on YouTube.

After a lunch break at camp, we set out again for Nub.  The trail sign had been stolen — so many were missing the turn as we had in the morning.

First stop is the Nublet. Next the Niblet.  The classic Assiniboine vista.

I’ve always enjoyed the ridge walk up from there.

Here’s the Nub Peak summit cairn.

Henry noticed an interesting phenomenon of light.

Last ones on the mountain, we lingered.

Up high the wild flowers were still in bloom.

Vistas of Assiniboine are some of my favourites world wide.

Click PLAY or watch a short video of our Nub on YouTube.

We were very late getting back to camp.

Assiniboine alpenglow

Dinner in the dark.

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Mt. Assiniboine: Shark to Magog

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5

Hiking Shark trailhead to Magog campground

Mountain sheep, not mountain goats. Let’s get that straight.

It was almost 5pm by the time we walked away from Mt. Shark trailhead on the Bryant Creek Trail.

We would have come in from Sunshine — but both the bus and Gondola were closed in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Jack was wearing brand new shoes. Surprisingly, they worked well for him over 5 days.

I was happy to join up with Brian Mason and sons for one of his favourite hikes.

I’d thought the trail to McBride campground (BR 14) was 9.8km flat. It’s closer to 13km with some ups and downs.

The Masons had most everything they needed, but it wasn’t really “packed”. 😀

9:07pm arrival at McBride

Turns out McBride is a lousy camp: no water, few level sites, distant cooking area.

Masons didn’t finish dinner until well after dark.

NIGHT

No fly for me.  I only use it if I must.

Masons were happy with their new 4 person MEC tent, the first time they’d used it.

I wished we’d camped instead at Big Springs 9.6km. But Brian was actually happy we went all the way to McBride as it shortened the climbing day up to Assiniboine.

At the Ranger cabin we turned uphill towards Marvel Lake. (The alternative trail is the easier, but less scenic, Assiniboine Pass.)

The river is the water supply for McBride. While at that camp, I saw two closer potential sources that were NOT running.

I do love alpine meadows.

My free Peakfinder app was useful in identifying mountains. You need to download the data in advance before going offline.

Gorgeous Marvel Lake.

Fantastic.

It’s a steep climb up to Assiniboine on switchbacks, but the views keep you going.

We stopped for lunch at the top.

What a vista !

From there we scrambled up to a higher viewpoint, leaving our big packs below.

Eventually we strolled into Magog campground with fantastic views of the Matterhorn of the Rockies.

We’d walked about 28 km (17.6 miles) from Shark. Plus our side trip.

Click PLAY or watch a short video on our hike on YouTube.

Days 1-2 | 3 | 4-5