BikePacking Wesley Ridge, Vancouver Island B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

AKA Mt. Wesley Traverse

I tried and failed to do the Wesley Ridge traverse:

  • close to tourist hotspot Cathedral Grove
  • trailheads on highway 4 between Parksville and Port Alberni
  • about 10km with 750m elevation gain/loss
  • about 6-8 hrs from one end to the other
  • additional hour or two walking abandoned rail tracks back to start
  • not maintained. Hundreds of fallen trees.
  • buggy but few mosquitoes
  • route finding necessary

I started at the end closest to Parksville assuming it would be less busy than the Cathedral Grove trailhead.

click for larger version

I made a video of the BikePacking trip. Cycling to and from my parent’s place in Parksville qualifies this as a #MicroAdventure.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I hid and locked my bike close to the trailhead. Transferred what I needed to my hiking pack — and headed up the railway tracks.

I missed the turn-off up mountain. It’s not obvious. On my return I flagged the start to make it more conspicuous.

Steep.

The strenuous 2km climb up to the telecommunications tower is called Wesley Tower Trail.

Many continue on to the first lake vista. It took me about 2 hours to get here. There are two benches, one named Forever Tuesday after the Tuesday Walkers Club in nearby Port Alberni.

Most turn back at this point. There’s no one path across the ridge from here.

I gave it a good try. You follow different (competing) sets of orange tape flags. Some lead to dead ends.

A bigger problem was scrambling hundreds of fallen trees. Not bringing long pants, I got quite scratched up. It was bushwhacking.

Another problem is water. I saw no flowing water — only remnant snow melt tarns. 

With daylight failing, I finally decided to find myself a great tent site.

It doesn’t get much better than this. I had to HIDE in the tent at dusk, however, pestered by small non-biting flies.

From here I could see steam rising from Port Alberni.

Here’s where I stopped.

Good night.

Next morning, nearly out of water, I decided to hustle back the way I’d come. I’ll try the Ridge from the other end on some future trip.

related – Lonny Barr – Wesley Ridge Trail

Palm Springs to Paradise Cafe – day 4

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Thru hikers are normally asleep by 9pm. Up and moving at first light.

Idyllwild is an exception. It’s a party town.

Everyone loves Idyllwild. It’s a great little mountain town.

Again without hitchhiking, I caught a lift from town with a hiker and her dog headed back up to the trailhead.

The Devil’s Slide trail. That’s about 2.5 miles of switchbacks up to Saddle Junction on the PCT.

This is Tahquitz Peak, the 1000-foot granite face where American rock climbing was born. Yes, before Yosemite.

Here I am — back on the PCT. I’ve travelled surprisingly few miles from where I started.

Saddle Junction

I headed south into a snowy wonderland.

I scrambled this rock with a local guy.

Unlike the PCT hikers, I was in no rush.

Even by California standards, this hike is gorgeous.

I was pleased not to be down on the hot, dusty desert floor.

The day was a gorgeous ridge walk. Mostly down.

I wanted to find a tent site on the ridge — to maximize both evening and morning light.

25 miles of this section burned in 2013. It was closed until fairly recently.

Another gorgeous sunset. Though windy, I did not put on the tent fly.

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Harder Ridge, Switzerland – best day hike on Earth?

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

  • dangerous
  • 10 hours
  • at least 18km on sharply defined ridge
  • should absolutely never be attempted when wet
  • plenty of exposure on both sides
  • frequent scrambling required
  • Brienz to Interlaken with rail assistance getting up to and descending from the ridge

Don’t hike the other direction. Logistics are easier starting in Brienz. And it’s safer as the last 2 hours (when your legs are tired) is on easier trails. 

I got up early in Interlaken, ready for my free hostel breakfast starting 7am.

Every half hour a train runs from Interlaken to Brienz for 8.20 francs (2018).

Happily I made the first steam train 8:36am — from Brienz to Brienzer Rothorn Station. It’s been making this run since 1891.

Price is reduced to 28 francs for the first train (2018) to encourage folks to get as early a start as possible on their hike.

At 9km / hour it takes an hour to get to the top of the ridge 2351m.

If clear, you can enjoy distant views over to Jungfrau highest peaks; the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schreckhorn, Finsteraarhorn.

I climbed up to the viewpoint. This is as far as most tourists hike.

Looking down on Brienzer Rothorn Station.

At 10am I started to walk back to Interlaken. I would have about 11.5 hours to make the last teleferico down from Harder Kulm Restaurant. Otherwise I’d have to walk down in the dark.

You can’t really get lost. Follow the ridge no matter what.

The weather was perfect.

You have Brienz lake on one side …

… and Swiss foothills on the other.

I loved it instantly.

Most of the time the ridge is not all that intimidating.

It often looks worse than it turns out to be.

I’d heard everyone who comes up here sees ibex. … Are these ibex?

This adventure is more popular with trail runners than with hikers as they can easily make it in less than 10 hours.

I took very few breaks. Other than checking the GPS on my phone, I had no idea whether I was moving quickly enough to finish in time.

Each time I’d climb a high point on the ridge, even higher points would come into view.

I don’t think I saw another person over the first 5 hours.

Sadly I seemed to be a lot closer to Brienz than Interlaken.

There are sections with stairs, cable and chain assistance. These would be most useful when down climbing in wet conditions.

Hmm … I might finally be past half way.

I tried to quicken my pace on the easiest sections.

There are many more day hikers on the Interlaken end of the ridge. They assured me I’d make it on time.

Interlaken

The last 2 hours stays on the ridge, but you are mostly in the trees. It was the least interesting section … but I was pleased to have less exposure as my legs got tired.

Here it is at last. Harder Kulm Restaurant.

The last funicular descends at 9:10pm. If it’s busy they may run until 9:40pm.

I gladly paid 16 francs and found the short trip down very interesting.

It was dark by the time we arrived Interlaken.

And I was quite dehydrated. I’d brought only 1.5 litres with me. I could have used about 3 litres.

When I got back to the hostel I announced it was the best day hike of my life.

Click PLAY or see if I look happy on YouTube.

hike Besseggen Ridge, Norway

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Besseggen, or Besseggi … in Jotunheimen, is a thrilling ridge walk with alpine lakes on either side. You look down on lakes Gjende and Bessvatnet.

  • 13.3km (8.25mi)
  • 6-9 hours
  • 950m elevation gain

Click PLAY or get a quick glimpse of how it goes on YouTube.

Besseggen is a loop with a ferry section.

You walk between Memurubu and Gjendesheim. Both offer lodges and camping. Independent hikers tend to camp outside the official campground area at either. That’s free.

I camped for free.

The vast majority bus in or park at Gjendesheim. Then take the Besseggen Boat. There’s no real reason to book in advance online.

You can hike the other direction but the down climbs are slightly more dangerous that way.

This is Norway’s most exciting National Park: Jotunheimen the “Home of the Giants“.

Camping free at Memurubu.

Besseggen is recommended from the end of June to mid-September. During those months more than 30,000 hikers make the adventure. You won’t be lonely in high season.

Many bring dogs on leash.

The route is well signed. You won’t get lost.

The morning I was there it was foggy on the long slog up.

One you get up on the ridge views are awesome.

I left a Summit Stone at one of the cairns.

Footing is rocky but offers traction everywhere except steep, wet down climbs. Those are dangerous.

As promised, the weather cleared. I love this kind of bleak beauty.

Looking back at the long lake. It’s turquoise due to rock flour.

The last 4km back to the start are sometimes flat and easy, sometimes challenging scramble. There is a chain assist at one point.

Besseggen is definitely one of the best day hikes in the world. I’ll never forget it.

Click PLAY or watch some SAFETY tips on YouTube.

Finally, Click PLAY or watch on YouTube some highlights of my own hike.

related – Visit Norway – BESSEGGEN RIDGE IN JOTUNHEIMEN