Continuing on from my summer hiking adventures:
Trip 3 – Mount Myra (Aug 11- 13) – 1810M
The reason W decided to spend the summer living out of his van in Strathcona Park is that he has a 20-year goal/project of climbing every peak on Vancouver Island. I believe he is following the Island Alpine guide. W’s project had been put on hold after a failed attempt at Colonial Foster earlier in the summer. His “rules” for the project is that he can’t move on to the next mountain in the Island Alpine guide until he has completed the previous one (or if he has already climbed that peak, he’ll have to do it again when it comes up in the book). As much as I think that is a silly rule, it worked in my favour as we were able to climb peaks that he was already familiar with.
As with all of our hikes so far, I was happy to just tag along and have someone else do the navigating. I am pretty sure that Mount Myra was chosen to give me a flavour of a more climb-y route without it being too crazy. The approach to the trail was a bit brutal as it was hot, steep, long and rocky. After a couple of hours you reach a super sketchy dam crossing and then it is just up and up with tight scrambling bits that I was rightfully terrified to come back down on.
We camped at the picturesque sandbag lake, which was unfortunately infested with mosquitoes. We thought about pushing through to Myra and then heading over to Thelwood the next day but we stayed at camp and played crib instead.
We were early to bed to avoid the mosquitoes and climbed up Myra the next day. Thankfully we did not attempt this the night before as it took about 5 hours to reach the summit, not the 2 or 3 we expected, partially because we lost the trail on the way up. There were lots of climb-y and scramble-y bits that I did not enjoy whilst wearing my backpack and I decided at this point that alpine climbing is really not my thing. We got to the summit and were immediately swarmed by flying ants. It was at this point where I asked myself, what the heck am I doing? And in a pouty inner voice I thought, “I hate nature, I hate insects, I hate climbing, this just sucks!”
We had lunch at a lower elevation and with the spectacular views, I quickly changed my recent negative opinion of hiking – it really is amazing to be up on these peaks, so much gratitude.
We finished lunch and then headed down Myra and toward the ridge heading to Mount Thelwood. It was along this ridge that we found the most amazing swimming spot. I called it the alpine infinity pool because it flowed over the side of the ridge and just disappeared into the vista. W wanted to stop right then and there but I convinced him that we needed to at least hike to “that peak” off in the distance. It was much easier knowing that we had that sweet swimming hole to return to. Once we got back, without another soul in sight, we stripped down and got in. Now THIS is why I backcountry hike.
We spent another night at Sandbag Lake and then headed out the next day. The down climbing was frustrating and the dam crossing equally as sketchy, but it was worth it. We ran into several groups of people heading up and I was especially pleased that we’d had the place all to ourselves. This was probably my least favorite trip this summer, mostly due to the million mosquito bites that covered my body for the next week.
Update: Nope, this Sunday, I hiked up Mount Arrowsmith via Judges Route and this was by far my least favorite hike this summer. Super steep, wet, windy, cold at the summit, zero visibility – just plain awful. It was the first time I completed a hike and did not enjoy one second of it. At least if there had been a view, I would have been less whiney about the ascent, but we weren’t even granted that reward. Not one photo was taken. At least it was a good training day (there, one positive note!)