Well that’s another year of hiking under our boots. Safe to say that we felt we should have done more but the weather seemed to be against us for much of 2016. And yet it seems we did spend more days hiking this year than last (well, I did at any rate). Summer came and went, lingering long enough for us to get out on a few spectacular trips that really left an impression.
Our top five trips of the year:
- Cape Scott. Easily our favourite trip of the year. Six days/five nights of camping on the beach in great weather was just the perfect summer holiday. Cape Scott has been on our list for a very long time, but has taken a while to find its way back to the top. It’s a long way from Vancouver, it really deserves the time we gave it, and it far exceeded my personal expectations. I really wasn’t sure whether I was even still interested in coastal hikes, but our time here just reminded me of what I’d been missing since 2008! It’s also been a few years since we did a classic backpacking trip of back-to-back days of hiking with our overnight packs of this length, and we were a little apprehensive about how we’d feel. It didn’t matter; with the weather in our favour, and no one else’s schedule to worry about, we had no problems taking our time to visit (and camp at) almost every beach in the area. Highly recommended.
- Bedwell Lake/Cream Lake. A bit of a surprise this one. We tacked it on to the end of our two weeks on Vancouver Island after a few days’ rest once we’d finished Cape Scott. It wasn’t so much Bedwell Lake that blew us away (though camping at Baby Bedwell was nice) than the hike to Cream Lake, a turquoise glacial lake whose colour we did not expect, with the exceptional-looking Mount Septimus as a stunning backdrop. The trail was wonderfully varied and surprised us with many tarns and a riot of colourful wildflowers. Deservedly-popular, and easily our favourite day-hike on Vancouver Island. Next time we’d like to bring our camping gear along to Cream Lake and spend the night there to explore that area some more.
- Golden Ears. As with Needle Peak last year, I had unfinished business with Golden Ears. And it was well worth the effort of dragging our overnight gear up to the ridge to watch a beautiful sunset, moonrise, and finally sunrise. The only downer with this trip was our nearest camping neighbours who seemed blissfully unaware of how much noise they were making. But reaching the summit felt really good – I was so happy to conquer the section that had turned me back all those years ago.
- Vantage Peak. Another revisit of sorts, but we hadn’t got anywhere near on our last visit. Superb views before we even reached the summit itself, it totally reinvigorated our interest in exploring more of this area. Plus I got to work on my scrambling skills again :-)
- Downton Creek. Yet another revisit, this was a totally different kind of backcountry trip for us as we had no objectives in mind other than to find a place to camp. We only spent 24 hours up here, but it was some of the most relaxing time we’ve every spent in the backcountry. We had the entire alpine basin to ourselves, and enjoyed the incredible feeling of peace and solace. Not to mention the glacier lilies put on a stunning display!
Honourable mentions go to my Wanderung trips to Yak Peak, Brandywine Mountain, and Elfin Lakes, all of which I enjoyed immensely.
As with last year, I’ll finish with a summary of our stats.
- Number of hikes: 41
- Number of days hiking: 49 (more or less)
- Total distance: 491 km
- Total elevation gain: 22380 m
- Average per trip: 12 km, 544 m
- Average per equivalent day hike: 10 km, 455 m
A little bit less distance and elevation gain, despite getting out on more hikes. I guess there must be quite a few shorter hikes in there.
And so what of 2017? Well, entry to Canada’s National Parks is free for 2017 so I expect we’ll be making a return to the Rockies. Alas I suspect that everyone else will have the same idea so we may rethink that closer to the time. Apart from that we just have to hope for enough good weather to get out as often as we’d like!