In recent summers past, I spent almost every weekend at some crag honing my climbing skills. For a multitude of reasons I gave up outdoor climbing this year, the main reason being that I needed more time to train for trekking in Nepal this October. As luck would have it, a friend (we’ll call him ‘W’) started his deferred salary leave (the same program that is allowing me 6 months off with pay this winter) in May and planned to spend the summer living out of his van in Strathcona Park, here on Vancouver Island. I haven’t done a multi-day hiking trip since the early 90’s, so I got the gear and organized which weekends I would meet up with him. To save you from having to read a very long blog post, I have separated each of the trips into its own post. Lucky for you, my memory is also terrible, so these should be short entries.
Trip 1 – Mount Albert Edward (June 17-19) 2093 M (6th highest peak on Vancouver Island)
I had no idea what to expect on this trip but after a short hike from the Mount Washington parking lot, we hit snow and I started getting a little concerned as to what I was getting into. I have always vowed that I NEVER wanted to camp in the snow, but when we arrived at Circlet Lake, there was so much snow that the bear caches were still buried – I guess I was about to experience camping in the snow! It was cold and windy – my hands were so frozen that I couldn’t even get them into my gloves, let alone help set up the tent. We had a quick dinner and found ourselves cozy in our sleeping bags by 7PM.
The morning was cold, but thankfully not as windy. I can’t remember how long it took us to get to the summit, but it was a super fun journey there, using an ice axe for the first time so I didn’t slide down the side of the mountain and relying on W’s GPS and rolling snowballs in front of us so that we didn’t walk off a cliff – there was zero visibility.
When we were stopped for lunch, 3 runners approached us, which was humbling and made me feel way less hard-core. They were unable to summit due to the lack of visibility and sketchy “whomps” of mounds of snow dropping around us, but we made it and W explained to me what we would be looking at had we been able to see.
A little sad to miss the view, but super happy to have completed the hike – I was now hooked. We stayed one more night at Circlet Lake and then hiked out the next day, of course with clear skies and sun shining on the summit. I can’t wait to do this again next year.