Another Wanderung hike. Saturday morning 8 of us set out to Port Moody and beyond to hike up to Eagle Peak, also known as Mt Beautiful. The trail started out easy: too easy of course, as it meant all the hard work was to come. We began by following the shore of Buntzen Lake to the end, then along the road awhile before turning off onto the real trail. As I said, now the hard work began for real, with the trail immediately heading steeply uphill. At first the trail bed was even and well trodden but before long it narrowed to a much less obvious route, and we were grateful for the trail markers. The steepness of the trail meant that it was rooty and had been washed away in places down to the bedrock. Braided plastic chains had been installed in several places to help with getting up the slope.
After some determined slogging we reached our first view point at Swan Falls. Although misty we could see Buntzen Lake and the ridge of Diez Vistas. A welcome break! Continuing on, the trail maintained its steepness and ruggedness making it slow going. As we headed up we encountered the occasional fallen tree which made things even trickier than they already were. By the time 2 hours had passed, we were still only half way up the slope. Everyone was tired already and the group had naturally spread out as the slower hikers struggled with the incline.
Finally there was some relief in the relentless uphill climb as we entered the first sub-alpine meadow areas. Except we wre in no mood to linger given the ravenous insect population! Maria and I had bug nets which we gladly put on. They were good for keeping the mosquitoes and black fly off our heads, but I found my face got very warm as my breath couldn’t escape freely and a layer of warm air became trapped inside the net. Occasionally I just had to brave the onslaught and lift the net to cool down.
After the meadow, the trail rose again through the trees and up over some expose rocks hinting that we were close to the top. The low cloud stopped us from being able to admire any views or determine just how much further we had to climb, but suddenly we reached a flat open area which we considered to be the summit and we decided this would be our lunch spot. Of course eating lunch while wearing a bug net was not the easiest thing in the world! But we managed, and even had time to lounge around afterwards.
But soon the bugs became too interested in us again and we decided to move on, only to find that our route continued to gain elevation. Suddenly, there on a tree was the summit marker: Mt Beautiful and a trail marker warning of a steep and rough trail descending to Buntzen Lake! That sign would have been useful at the bottom too… Or maybe it would be too off-putting? Here we had to make the decision to return the way we had come or continue along Eagle Ridge, past Lindsay Lake and down to the car park. Well, there were no views to be had from the summit, and we had already planned to continue along the ridge, so we continued over more exposed rock, descending towards Triangulation Point. The clouds parted a little and we caught snippets of a view of Coquitlam Reservoir, undoubtedly a fine view on a good day. A little farther the trail descended through berry bushes and back into the trees again.
Here the bugs were less of a nuisance at least, as we made our way down, around and over deadfall from last winter’s storms. Before too long we reached Lindsay Lake, recognizing it from our hike last October. We chose to follow the edge of the ridge in order to salvage some views to the west where the clouds were clearing slowly. Longer, but more interesting for sure. We revisited each of the viewpoints in turn, clambering up over Spahat Rigg and descending steeply into the old-growth forest. The forest up here is beautiful, and has a fabulous undisturbed feel to it. One of my favourite parts of the trail.
Eventually we reached El Paso junction and turned right to descend back down to the lake and the cars. The descent here was almost as steep as our ascent but at least the trail was well trodden and easy to walk on. A long, long, long descent and after what seemed an age we reached the power lines for the last stretch back to the cars. Phew!
A long tough day’s hiking, but one I would like to repeat on a clear and less buggy day.
Distance: 18.5+ km
Elevation gain: 1150+ m
Photos on Flickr