Golden Hinde Traverse, Strathcona Vancouver Island

By BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I’m hoping to climb the highest mountain on Vancouver Island 2,195 m (7,201 ft) late August, early September.  Fewer bugs.  Dryer trails. … 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.

 

Climbing Mt Arrowsmith, Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles. 

Mount Arrowsmith 1,819 m (5,968 ft) is the most prominent peak seen from my parents home in Vancouver Island.

It’s close to Port Alberni, B.C.

Alanna@VanIsle – Arrowsmith from Parksville in winter

The most popular hike to the top is called Judges Route.  Details.

  • 6-7 km (4 miles) roundtrip
  • elevation gain 1,000m (3,280ft)

Finding the trailhead can be confusing. Google Maps has it wrong, for example.

I used the free Maps.me app — that worked.

Maps.me

It’s 4-6 hours return.  Challenging.  Some exposure. A bit of scrambling.  Some route finding.  I was briefly lost 3 times.

There are some views on the way up.

On June 25th, 2020 I didn’t have much snow.

The summit is interesting.

From the top you can see from Port Alberni to Mt. Baker in Washington State.

I was inspired to try one of my rare panoramas.

Click for larger version.

Great day.

Starting up at 4pm I was last hiker on the mountain.

What time is blast off? 😀

 

 

 

Buttle Lake Campground, Strathcona Park B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

First time to this part of Strathcona Provincial Park,  Vancouver Island, I decided to tent at the biggest campground on arrival — Buttle Lake.

And was glad I did.

Easy access from Campbell River.  I cycled.

Campgrounds had just opened following the COVID-19 shutdown.  Their reservation system was still getting going.

I could choose any site not listed on the whiteboard.

There was one other cyclist that night — John, a cabinet maker from Vancouver — who was out-of-work at the moment from his set design job for the  TV series Riverdale.

We decided to share a site and campfire.

After setting up the tent, I checked out the many short hikes accessible from camp.

Best was the Beach Access Trail

This lake has many drowned tree stumps. Very evocative.

I stumbled upon 5 campsites not shown on any map.  Cool.

The Ranger informed me they were Marine Campsites, designated for those fishing and boating.  BUT that they were free until June 15th.

John and I booked in for the night of June 14th.

I can hardly recall a more perfect camp. 

Buttle, like most high mountain lakes, is prone to high winds due convection created by the sun heating the canyon walls during the day. Fishermen try to get off the lake by eleven.

Early next morning, I had a visitor.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The other big car campground in this part of the Park is called Ralph River. On paper, it’s similar. But I would recommend you camp at Buttle Lake instead, if you can.

Ralph River Campground Strathcona

Bedwell Lake trails, Strathcona Park B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

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

We’ve added Bedwell to our list of best hikes in North America.

The up-and-back Bedwell Lake Trail:

      • 10km return
      • 1-3 days
      • 875m elevation gain/loss
      • Bedwell Lake lookout  980m 
      • camping fee at trailhead
Bedwell Lake lookout

If adventurous, you could continue to longer routes including:

  • climbing Big Interior mountain
  • continue to Mt Myra
  • continue to Phillips Ridge
  • exit via Flower Ridge
  • exit via Price Creek
  • climbing Mt Tom Taylor

Best would be to continue to Bedwell Sound, organizing a water taxi to take you to Tofino.

Good navigation needed on all those options, of course.

If I had proper snow gear I would have continued on to Cream Lake (at least) where you get views of Nine Peaks, Mt Septimus and Della Falls, highest in Canada.

I did talk to one couple who were trying to posthole their way to Cream.  And they looked prepared.  It would be easier later in the season.

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


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

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF)

Started up about 3pm in perfect weather.

Bedwell is possibly the best maintained trail in Strathcona. So steep and (potentially) wet, numerous anti-erosion measures are necessary: wood bridges, metal bridges, boardwalk, etc.

I reached Baby Bedwell lake about 6pm. A gorgeous vista looking over to Mt. Tom Taylor.

Relaxed. Enjoyed dinner from the rocks watching the fading light.

Next morning perfect weather again. No wind.

En route to the big lake are a number of steel ladders and one chain assist. It would be very slippery when wet descending in the rain.

Wow. You arrive well above Bedwell lake with astonishing vistas.

There are tent platforms at both lakes. Personally I prefer those at Baby Bedwell over these at Bedwell.

With good weather, my return back down the same trail seemed easy to me.

What a nice 2-day hike!

Flower Ridge Trails, Strathcona Park B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Experts agree that the Flower Ridge trails are some of the best in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

The up-and-back Flower Ridge Trail:

  • 27km return
  • 1-3 days
  • 1970m elevation gain/loss
  • summit of Central Crags 1642m 
  • no permit needed

If adventurous, you could return via other longer routes including:

  • Comox Glacier to Buttle Lake Traverse
  • Ash River Horseshoe
  • Mt. Rosseau to Cream to Bedwell lakes
  • Green lake to Price creek

Good navigation needed on all those options, of course.

I was actually hoping to return via the Henshaw Creek Horseshoe since it returns you to where you started. A perfect loop.

In fact, it’s one of guidebook author Phillip Stone’s favourite hikes in the Park.

But I would have needed a guide and full mountaineering gear to pull that off in June.  Perhaps a helicopter, as well. 😀

I was there early season.


Beautiful morning. Ideal campsite in the Marine Park next to Buttle Lake campground.

It was June 14th. Free. ($10/night/site starting June 15th.)

I enjoyed a leisurely morning.

Next cycled to the trailhead, easy access from gorgeous Buttle Lake Parkway.

It’s close to Ralph River campground.

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF).

Strathcona Park had just opened following the COVID-19 shutdown.

The previous day I’d tried King’s Peak with a light day pack. Didn’t get higher than 770m due to high creeks.

Learning my lesson, for Flower Ridge I brought food for up to 3 days. Full pack.

Started up about 5pm.

Like many Strathcona hikes, Flower Ridge starts with a steep climb. But less steep than most others

Not many views early on. When you do, it’s of the the Myra Falls Mine (opened 1959)

The mine is currently owned by Nyrstar and produces zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold concentrates.

Any time you are hiking a ridge, finding running water might be a problem. But my guidebook said there was one reliable creek — I never found it.

No worries. There is plenty of snow to melt. You dig to find the clean white stuff.

I set up 8:30pm at the first obvious campsite. Days are long in Canada in June.

Normally my dinners are based around instant mashed potatoes. But for this trip I went all in for instant stuffing.

I carried my 1.2 pound solar charger for the first time. Normally it stays with my bikepacking gear.

There’s no electricity in Strathcona. No mobile phone service.

I climbed higher next morning. But quickly the snow got too deep. Just like King’s Peak the previous day, I only reached perhaps 800m elevation before turning back.

The ridge is about 1200m.  In those meadows I would have found more famed spring flowers.

I really need to return to Strathcona late season: August – September.

#LessonLearned

If you want to do it right, click over to MBGuiding:

Flower Ridge Trail – July 13-15, 2018

MBGuiding.ca

 

DON’T hike King’s Peak, Strathcona in June

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

  • 8th highest peak in the Park 2065m
  • 14km round trip
  • elevation gain/loss 1915m
  • no permit required

I’d hoped to hike high like Outside Epic in one day.

Some tricky scrambling.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

That didn’t happen. 😕

I was there June 14, 2020 — far too early in the season.

It started well.  Lovely weather.  Easy access from highway 28 between Strathcona and Gold River.

Second growth forest.  Some big trees.

Quite quickly I was using my hands to scramble tree roots.

I turned back after reaching a raging creek at 770m that looked dangerous to cross.  Snow melt.

My total hike was 4 hours 40 minutes and I didn’t get very high.  Not even to the snow line.

In June I should have planned for at least 2 days.  Brought crampons and ice axe.  Also a rope for creek crossing.

Live and learn.

If you want to hike in a day,  schedule any Strathcona peak climb for August / September.   Less snow, shallower creeks, fewer bugs. 

The ‘trail’ becomes a route above the treeline so navigation required.

Exploring Strathcona Park by Phil Stone provides 3 main alternate routes to the top.

related – King’s Peak CLIMBING options (PDF)

 

Mt Robson – Berg Lake & Snowbird Pass

Our friends at travel2walk post some of the best trip report online.

August 2019 they hiked the classic at Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Colombia – Berg Lake & Snowbird Pass.

Mount Robson is the highest point in the Canadian Rockies 12972 ft (3954 m).

One highlight is Emperor Falls.

This part of the Canadian Rockies is wild and challenging. Yet the excellent Park infrastructure make it accessible to all.

trip report: Mount Robson Provincial Park – Berg Lake & Snowbird Pass, August 2019

Timberline Trail – around Mt Hood

Jon posted a detailed trip report on their August 2019 circuit of Oregon’s highest peak. It’s close to Portland.

This report is all you need to organize that adventure for yourself. 

Plenty of climbs and descents. Quite a few creeks crossings. Not what we’d call an easy week.

They started and ended at Timberline Lodge. And hiked clockwise.

The report includes excellent photos so you really get a feel for what to expect.

Mount Hood (photo credit: Dan Nevill, CC 2.0)
Ramona Falls (photo credit: Dan Nevill, CC 2.0)

Check it out:

TIMBERLINE TRAIL – MOUNT HOOD WILDERNESS, OR (40 MILE LOOP)

Similar adventures in the Pacific N.W. include the Wonderland Trail around Mt Ranier and / or a partial circuit around nearby Mt Adams.

Dientes Circuit, Patagonia

Last year I tried and failed to complete the Dientes Circuit on Isla Navarino, Chile.

The trail was covered over with snow, and I had no guide to lead the way. I only tented one night. Then turned back.

AT A GLANCE

  • world’s most southerly major hike?
  • circumambulate the jagged spires of Cordon de los Dientes
  • out of Puerto Williams, Chile, on Isla Navarino (pop. 2,262 last time we counted)
  • recommended 5 days, 4 nights in the past. Most hikers are doing it in 4 days, 3 nights now as the route is better cairned and signed.

This guided group had far worse weather than me. And still made it.

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo.

To find out how to do this trip yourself, click over to our Dientes Circuit information page.

35 great hikes in Peru

This list was posted by CareerGappers who certainly haven’t hiked them all.

On the other hand, it’s quite good. We’ve bolded the best of the best.

35 best hikes and essential tips

Huayhuash

related – our PERU – Central Andes TOP 10 BestHike information pages: