Strathcona Park: A giant provincial park that takes up a good portion of central Vancouver Island. It’s 250 000 hectares of pure alpine awesomeness, covered in mountains; trees, ferns, and every other green thing that grows; lofty waterfalls that pour forth from craggy peaks; lakes hidden deep within valleys; and other such breathtaking landscapage.
Our weekend mission: to traverse this terrain and make our way to Landslide Lake, a glacier-fed lake of azure blue nestled at the foot of Mount Colonel Foster. It’s waters are crystal clear, and apparently the fishing’s great.
I picked Nathan up after work Friday afternoon, and we arrived at the trailhead in the early evening. We found a nice gravel bar about half an hour in where we decided to camp for the night.
The next day dawned fantastically bright – not a cloud in the sky and perfect weather for hiking to Landslide Lake! I awoke surprisingly well rested, despite Leroy traipsing around the tent all night – whining at the tent flap, digging at the sleeping bag, and most annoyingly, stepping on and pulling my hair! And there’s nothing like a good stiff mug o’ camping coffee, steaming in the morning cool, to kick one’s butt into gear.
The plan was to pack up camp and hike another few kilometres in to where there was another camping spot, set up camp, and hike the rest of the way to the lake sans packs. So we set off. The hike itself was amazing – each turn presented a new breathtaking view or scene. The trail took us over several fast flowing creeks and waterfalls, and each time we came to a break in the seriously towering trees, we were treated to a spectacular view of mountain peaks and glaciers and blue sky.
We reached our second camp at noon, and after a quick bite, were ready to continue on to the lake! If the trail thus far had been this beautiful, how awesome would the actual destination be? Well, we set up the tent, stashed our packs, and hadn’t hiked for another half hour before we reached this:
Snow! Well, this was all very exciting and novel….until we realized that this patch of snow was actually suspended about ten feet over top of a rocky creek bed, forming a kind of tunnel through which the water was quickly flowing. Being the end of June and quite warm out, the snow was soft and melting, and not at all safe to venture out upon. It had rendered our trail impassable, and there was no other place visible to cross safely. How frustrating! There was the trail, continuing on the other side not fifteen feet away, but we couldn’t follow it! We sat with disappointment at the edge of this snow for some time, trying to brainstorm a solution, but the only viable thing to do was simply turn around, and come back later in the season.
This we did, dejectedly. We got back to our campsite, and since it was still quite early in the afternoon, decided to hike back to our original spot to give us something to do (and which was also a considerably nicer spot). We cooked our supper and rested our feet. Foolish or not, we were still disappointed at our inability to reach the lake earlier in the day, and instead of spending another night being stepped all over by Leroy, decided to hike back to the car that evening. The remainder of the hike went very quickly, and sadly, we were soon leaving Strathcona Provincial Park.
All in all it was a fantastic weekend – despite not actually getting to the lake, it was such a beautiful area. And after my last post about my bear phobia – did we actually see a bear? Yes! Not 100 metres from the trailhead, as we were driving away, there was the biggest black bear that either Nathan or I had ever seen, just chilling not 20 feet from the road! Now as far as I was aware, black bears are not supposed to get that big, but there he was. I am so glad we did not meet him in the Strathcona back country, but in the car, it was a very cool ending to the weekend.