Troubridge Trudge – Sunshine Coast Trail, B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

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I’d previously hiked two other sections of the (roughly) 180km Sunshine Coast Trail:

Sarah Point to Manzanita hut (2015)

Mowat Bay to Lois Main (2016)

Pestered by wasps and other biting insects on those two earlier trips, I deliberately returned late season. No bugs.

This time I headed for the Troubridge Trudge section:

Oct 24 – Lang Bay to Golden Stanley hut (km 145)
Oct 25 – Golden Stanley to Mt Troubridge hut (km 158)
Oct 26 – Troubridge to Fairview Bay hut (km 173)
Oct 27 – Fairview to Lang Bay (km 180)

You can hike 42km in either direction. It’s called the trudge as this is the highest section of the Sunshine Coast Trail.

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More maps.



Having reached the Sunshine Coast via ferry from Comox, I stayed in a Powell River hotel.

Harbour at dusk

Weather forecast looking good next morning, I cycled down to Lang Bay.

A lovely autumn day.

Hid my bike in the trees close to the highway near Lang Bay.

Walked the gravel road called Canoe Main to join the Sunshine Coast Trail on Lois lake. (I could have walked Lois Main, the older road.)

Lois lake was created by a dam.

The mountains beyond the lake look tempting.

You eventually turn uphill inland on a trail towards Elephant lake.

It’s steep but not all that far to Golden Stanley hut, completed 2016. It’s not mentioned in my guidebook published 2013, of course.

I was carrying my tent as I’d seen online that the huts were closed due to COVID-19.

But the hut was open after all. Since I was the only person there, I moved in.

Impressive pit toilet.


Oct 25 – Golden Stanley to Mt Troubridge hut (km 158)

Mt Troubridge is the highest point on the Sunshine Coast Trail. I was happy to have good weather.

On the other hand, surprised to see snow at such low elevation in October.

It was Ho Ho Ho. 😀

In 2020 everyone takes the newer of two possible trails to the summit. The best route is always well signed.

I still easily reached Troubridge hut by early afternoon.

Here’s how it looks in summer.

And here’s how it looked when I arrived.

Mt Troubridge hut was flown up in pieces by helicopter.

It replaced the Troubridge Hilton, a small communications hut that’s now more used as an emergency shelter on the top of the mountain.

I assumed I’d have Troubridge hut to myself again when Chris and his dog arrived. Rather than sharing a small space, Chris took the A-frame. I stayed in the hut on my own.

He had the views of Jervis inlet and could see all the way to Powell River.

Turns out winter camping is quite comfortable — when you can sleep in a hut rather than a tent.

I took plenty of winter wonderland video. And later managed to accidentally delete most of it. Somehow. 😕


Oct 26 – Troubridge to Fairview Bay hut (km 173)

More good weather. I was worried the descent might be slippery, but new snow was mostly grippy. No problems in approach shoes.

Navigation no problem in winter either.

I stopped 800m lower for lunch at Rainy Day lake (km 169) which has a hut.

Winter hiking is much different than doing the same thing in summer.

Eventually snow disappeared. Went away. Like magic. 😀

It got easier on the way down to Fairview Bay.

Again I had the hut to myself.

And again I had plenty of time for photos.


There’s the ferry I’ll be catching to North Vancouver.

Next morning a leisurely 2 hour walk out. Autumn is my favourite time of year for hiking.

This is the end of the South Coast Trail. But I have one section left to finish, close to Powell River. Looking forward to it already.

I had to telephone the bus for pick-up. But it only cost $2.25 to get me back to Lang Bay where I retrieved my bike.

If you want to learn more about Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hike, check first the official website and our own information page:

BestHike – Sunshine Coast Trail

sunshinecoast-trail.com

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.

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.

See our list of the best hikes in North America.

The best hiking guidebook is Exploring Strathcona Park. Dead tree version available only.

786km, 32 days hiking Iceland

Iðunn Bragadóttir and her 20-year-old daughter, Þóra Dagný Stefánsdóttir, have spent 32 days traversing Iceland. The duo started on the Reykjanes peninsula and hiked diagonally, southwest to northeast, across the country to Langanes Point.

The 786km route is one of the longest possible ways to traverse Iceland. …

Mother and Daughter Hike Across Iceland

(via Adventure Blog)

Maligne Canyon, Jasper, Alberta

One of the must do day hikes in the Canadian Rockies is Maligne Canyon close to Jasper, Alberta.

… the canyon measures over 50 metres (160 ft) deep. Popular for sightseeing and exploration, the area contains waterfalls, underground stream outlets, birds and plant life. …

Best is to start from the main parking lot close to the tea house and the Hi Maligne Canyon Lodge.

The canyon is deep here.

The canyon was named by a zealous Jesuit missionary, who called the canyon “la traverse maligne”, after his horses were swept away by the swirling waters. There are six bridges built across the canyon to help one explore this magnificent work of nature : the first bridge was built in 1914.

I’d recommend you hike at least to the point of seeing the 5th bridge.  From there you could loop back on the cycling / horseback trail.

There are interesting interpretive displays en route.  This hike is great for kids.

With each bridge, you get closer and closer to the water.

When the river freezes over in winter, the experience is completely different.  If you are one of the brave venturing to Jasper National Park in winter, consider doing a guided ice walk in Maligne Canyon in winter. It is an out of this world experience.

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
  • Phillip Stone – Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook
  • no electricity nor mobile phone service

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

 

The best hiking guidebook is Exploring Strathcona Park. Dead tree version available only. 

See our list of the best hikes in North America

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.

Southern Sierra High Route

Pie on the Trail:

The Southern Sierra High Route (SSHR) was developed by Alan Dixon and Don Wilson in 2014.

It is 100 miles long and the majority is off-trail travel mixed with sections on the JMT. Elevation loss and gain are high and the going is hard.

2019 Backpacking Trip Report

Blake Bole’s 2019 trip report was posted in rhyming verse!

Vidette Meadow

Hiking this route requires a wilderness permit from Inyo National Forest.

Bear canister(s) required. There are no easy re-supply points. Snow is an issue some years.

K2 Base Camp and the Gondogoro Pass

I was planning on making this trek August 2020 …

… not much chance it’s going to happen this year. #COVID-19

Atlas & Boots was there in 2019:

My 14-day K2 base camp trek in Karakoram mountains of #Pakistan, followed by a crossing of the technical Gondogoro La Pass.

At 8,611m (28,251ft), #K2 is the second highest mountain in the world.

The K2 base camp trek route is via Concordia, the confluence of the Baltoro and Godwin-Austen glaciers at around 4,700m (15,419ft).

It is one of the few places in the world where you can see four 8,000m peaks: K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II.

Read the trip report.

K2 as seen from Concordia

Click PLAY or watch their trip on YouTube.