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

 

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.

 

Deer 139 – mule deer documentary

Deer 139 (Tour Edit) was one of the films selected for the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour 2019-20.

Very entertaining.

“Three women follow the 137km migration path of a scruffy, pregnant mule deer doe and in the process, learn to see the world differently.”

Hopelessly overloaded, much of the entertainment is watching their misadventures en route in Wyoming.

Deer 139 knows how to migrate. These ladies … not so much.  😀

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo.

SHOULD we hike Pakistan?

Since 2013 I’ve been recommending hikers boycott Pakistan after terrorists killed 11 at Nanga Parbat Base Camp.

The U.S. State Department advises against travel due to terrorism.

On the other hand, I’m inspired by Eva zu Beck, a Polish travel vlogger, who spent many months there. She thinks it could be the next Nepal for trekkers.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I’m talking to the Epic about their trips in 2020.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Palm Springs to Paradise Cafe – day 2

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

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

The weather was lovely in the morning. As it so often is in California.

Unbelievably I’d forgotten to bring coffee! 😞 So it was Earl Grey tea for breakfast.

No worries. I was headed 2 miles back to the Mountain Station atop Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. They served coffee. Right? … It turned out to be the most expensive java I’d bought outside of Switzerland.

This morning the Ranger Station was open and I was happy to go register for my free trail permit.

I’d planned to take the most direct route to Idyllwild – Willow Creek trail. Unfortunately I learned it was still near impassible due to snow. My best bet was to return back the way I came and try to get through the snow to Saddle Junction.

Not having spikes or hiking poles I promised to return and take the Tramway down if the snow was too deep.

I was using the free Maps.me app for navigation at this point. It’s not all that accurate.

On the upside, this is the most popular trail to climb San Jacinto peak (10,834 ft). Crazies find a way to get up there in all seasons.

As it turned out the snow was still hard packed. It was fairly easy to quick step from one footprint to the next.

It got easier after Wellman’s Divide.

At Saddle Junction I ran into a PCT hiker in a hurry to get to Idyllwild. The Saddle is on the Pacific Crest Trail.

A teenager from Michigan, he had the smallest pack he’d seen so far over the first 10 days.

As we descended snow disappeared. The switchbacks very well graded.

PCT hikers were waiting at the parking lot hoping for a Trail Angel to arrive and deliver them a ride to town.

It wasn’t a local Trail Angel but tourists who drove up siteseeing. They happily agreed to make 3 trips delivering dirty hikers to the $5 PCT camp site in Idyllwild (pop. 3500).

I ordered a LARGE pizza and watched Game 1 of the Calgary Flames playoff series.

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