Despite the stressful nature of 2020 and the spring-time lockdown, we managed to have an excellent year of hiking, covering the most distance since 2006 and setting a record for elevation gain. No one is more surprised by this than us!
We hiked half-a-dozen new trails and revisited a few others, pushing further than we had before to cover new ground and see new views. We managed to squeeze in more backpacking trips this year, too, getting out on nine overnight or multi-day trips spending over three weeks in our tent (not including car camping which added another two weeks)! By and large we also managed to find hikes that were not crowded (we saw only 9 people in 7 days in the Southern Chilcotins), even if they were popular, which was great.
Our top 5-ish (i.e. 6) trips for 2020 were:
- Paradise Creek (Southern Chilcotins): Without doubt the Southern Chilcotins are rapidly becoming one of my favourite areas to explore with lots of scope for long backpacking trips. Despite having one day washed out due to rain, we still had an amazing 7-day trip exploring open meadows and ridges, following bear tracks, and sizing up where we might want to explore next.
- The Rockwall: I was already expecting to enjoy this trip, but it turned out to be far better than I imagined. We reached the end wanting to turn around and go back again! The hiking was a delight, as the trails in the Rockies often are. The high passes and meadows were places I could have stayed for days; they were simply sublime. Not only that, but we identified a number of options for further exploration that could be attained on shorter trips. And then there were the larches, which we caught as they began turning gold. Absolutely wonderful!
- Blowdown Creek: so close to an area we know well but different enough to not feel that we were simply doing more of the same, we really enjoyed our time here (yes, including the sufferfest day of exploring!) and definitely intend to return to explore more of the peaks, ridges, and lakes.
- Tenquille Lake: This area has quickly become one of our favourite places to visit. It made our top 5 in 2017 and we vowed to return to explore some more. This time we spent 3 nights and thoroughly enjoyed summiting three peaks near the lake, all of which I’d happily revisit. We had the added satisfaction of successfully tackling some tougher terrain on our scrambles, boosting our confidence to tackle even more peaks.
- Rampart Ponds: We camped at Mamquam Lake for one night back in 2013, which was distinctly underwhelming. However, the new campground at Rampart Ponds has one of the best views in the Lower Mainland, with an unobstructed line of sight to the east face of Mount Garibaldi. Our gamble on two long hiking days to get in and out paid off, giving us a full day to explore the nearby ridges for glimpses into wilder and more remote terrain. Just beautiful!
- Tricouni Peak: a successful return visit to one of the most amazing and hard-earned views of the year. It was every bit as stunning as we’d hoped, and every bit as hard as we expected. The mud was totally draining and the climb had its tricky moments for me with some scrambling and steep rocks to clamber over, but the view was so worth it. I’d easily go again, maybe for an even longer trip to spend more time exploring the area.
So those were the best of the year but, to be honest, almost every trip we did between late June and the end of September was fantastic. The runners-up hikes could easily have taken the top spots in other years: Downton, Coliseum and Burwell, Palmer’s Pond, and McNair Cabin were all excellent trips.
There were a few duds this year, a couple of which were weather-related, so I’d entertain those hikes again on better days. One hike I’m less sure I’ll repeat is Mount Beautiful – it had its moments but on the whole it was just too much of a slog.
In terms of numbers, pretty much all of the stats saw increases even though we did one less trip than last year. The elevation gain is a new record for us, and it’ll be hard to see how we can beat that. Maybe we shouldn’t even try?
- Number of trips: 38 (-1)
- Number of days hiking: 60 (+10)
- Total distance: 606.5 km (+98.5 km)
- Total elevation gain: 34275 m (+7875 m)
- Average per trip: 16.0 km / 901 m (+3.0 km / +225 m)
- Average per equivalent day hike: 10.1 km / 571 m (-0.1 km / +43 m)
Looking forward to 2021, we’ve already started making plans for a few good backpacking trips, which we’ll fill in with day hikes or overnighters. It’s getting harder to find new day hikes near Vancouver but there are still a few on the list. Given the current state of the pandemic, we’re not holding our breath when it comes to hiking in the US, but I guess we’ll see. We’d like to return to the Southern Chilcotins to do a fly-in backpacking trip (pandemic permitting…) while the Rockies may be a major source of new hikes this year – a two-week trip would be nice to get the most out of the long drive. We’ll have owned our CR-V for 10 years in June, and so I’m beginning to wonder what kind of replacement vehicle we might get. It’d be nice to have a little more clearance but mostly I would like real four-wheel drive. We’ll see what happens there.