Looking for an extreme adventure?
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• 22km round trip to Elfin Lakes campground (600m gain) + Gargoyles side trip
• LOTS of snow at the end of July
• be prepared for very wet trails
• BUGGY !
• registration online or by phone required to stay overnight
From the start I had problems. First finding the trailhead out of Squamish, B.C. – street signage is not all that clear. I asked different mountain bikers to find the right gravel road.
Elfin Lakes is popular. The parking lot was full. I squeezed my rent-a-car in on the side of the approach.
The first 5km to Red Heather Meadows campground is a road.
You share most of this trail with mountain bikers. And chipmunks.
Breaking out of the trees first vista is impressive
Diamond Head. Actually, that’s Atwell Peak. Many make the same mistake I did.
We’d enjoyed dry sunny weather for weeks at this point. Still many parts of the trail were wet with snow melt. Some sections have been improved.
On a hot day like this, walking snow fields was fun.
I’d read the hike was on Paul Ridge. True. But it’s not a ridge walk. Normally you are on one side of the ridge or the other, not the top.
Elfin Lakes campground. A beautiful scene.
You can sleep in a large shelter or tent on one of these side slope platforms.
Elfin Lakes are not lakes, they are meltwater ponds. One for drinking water. One for … swimming.
Earlier in the week a mouse had somehow gotten into my Ursack food bag while up on the line, so I switched to a dry bag.
I enjoyed a siesta in my tent (escaping the voracious bugs) and was sluggish getting going for the recommended side trip to the Gargoyles.
Here’s the trail from Camp leading to the Gargoyles. More interesting but wetter than the Elfin Lakes approach.
Climbing up to the Pass was easy but long. Snow conditions good, you simply walked in footprints or kicked in your own steps.
Looking over to the other side.
A trail runner came down recommending I scramble the Gargoyles.
Instead I listened to my audiobook and relaxed.
The next 3 hikers arrived keen to climb. One had been here before. I climbed up the first Gargoyle to take some photos. Wow.
Suddenly inspired I scrambled the ridge myself to the end to get to this view – scenery reminding me of the Himalayas.
That’s the 11.5km trail continuing to the new Rampart Ponds Campground (Mamquam Lake Campground is permanently closed).
See all my high resolution photos.
Guidebook – 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia
… the largest wilderness area in South-East Asia and an UNESCO world heritage area since 2004. It is further part of the tropical rain forest heritage of Sumatra, allowing for spectacular experiences in this fortunately still widely untouched nature.
The hike itself is a unique experience for several reasons:
No trails are available and one totally has to rely on the guide to find the way through the jungle (mainly following former rebel trails).
4-6 porters accompany you and provide you with the most delicious hiking food you’ll ever get to taste (don’t forget to tip).
You will not see ANYONE other than your party during the whole hike.
The wilderness of the jungle and its inhabitants is just breathtaking.
The river crossings are an adventure itself.
They recommend local guides Expedition Jungle.
… Spoiler alert: Isle Royale is a babe. The island is wild; there are many moose, two wolves, foxes, rabbits, and several species of birds throughout the chain of islands. The island is also wild; there was more mud than I’ve ever seen in my life, swarming mosquitos, and very primitive campgrounds.
Ups and downs aside, hiking the length of Isle Royale was a huge accomplishment. We want to share …
If you don’t have your own boat, you’ll be taking a ferry from one of three ports: Grand Portage, Minnesota, Houghton, Michigan, or Copper Harbor, Michigan. …
… to Anaktuvuk, float southwest on the John River, hike west to the Alatna River, float southeast on the Alatna to access the Arrigetch, cross the Arrigetch, float northwest on the Noatak River, hike southwest to the Ambler River, and float west to Ambler. 400 miles in 19 days. …
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Cycle hiking the Islands – trip report by site editor Rick McCharles
I crossed the amazing bridge between Whidbey and Hidalgo worried about my front tire.
After the third time pumping more air I inquired at a general store as to the nearest cycle shop. A gentleman there offered to drive me the 8 miles to Skagit Cycle in Anacortes.
I don’t trust myself to fix a tire correctly. 😦
Waiting on the next ferry, I cycled up to the Little Cranberry Lake area.
Nice, but from the little I saw, NOT impressed with Anacortes. Too big. Too much traffic. Not much to write home about. But there is a Jack in the Box. 🙂
During the summer it’s a busy ferry over to Orcas.
Hydration is important. 🙂
As is keeping your paniers locked to your bike.
I’d been looking forward to Orcas and – as it turned out – it was my favourite island, so far.
I cycled directly to Eastsound. That’s the main town.
I checked the hostel. It cost US$50 for a dorm bed. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $30.
So I cycled on to Moran State Park. Wild camped near the campground.
Stinging nettle was my only gripe. There are a few mosquitoes too.
Moran encompasses over 5,000 acres of various terrain including forests, wetlands, bogs, hills, and lakes. It is the largest public recreation area in the San Juan Islands and the fourth largest state park in the state. …
The park offers 38 miles of hiking trails …
If you go to Orcas for hiking, be sure to find a copy of the free brochure.
Next morning I climbed out of the tent and walked directly on to the Twin Lakes trail via Mountain Lake.
A crew was doing trail construction at Twin Lakes. I had lunch and watched them. Good work.
Returning via a series of cascades, I resolved to return one day to bike these trails. After Sept 15th they are all open to mountain bikes.
Back to the tent to relax. Then on to my next adventure. Cycling to the summit of Mt Constitution.
… the highest point in the San Juan Islands. A stone observation tower patterned after a medieval watch tower stands at the summit. …
I resolved to only go as high as I could make it without getting off the saddle. It’s 5 miles at an average 8 degree slope. Turned out I made it to the top. 🙂 Beautiful vista.
After a steep and fast ride back down the 5 miles I headed on to lovely Doe Bay resort.
I could definitely stay here for a few days. 🙂
But I wanted to stay near Eastsound that evening. I ended up wild camping in an excellent city park called Crescent Beach Preserve. It was close to a superb coffee shop – Enzo’s.
I rode next to Westsound. En route I hiked Turtleback Mountain.
I started at the north trailhead and hiked up to Waldron overlook. The trail is better for mountain biking than hiking, I’d say.
On the return I stopped at North Valley Overlook, a tranquil, rural scene.
And finally all the way to Deer Harbor.
Time to celebrate.