This trip has been a long time coming for me. It was by looking for
information on Mount Wrottesley that I found clubtread. Bivouac didn't
have much info on it then, so I did a google search and it gave me
as one of the first hits. This is the kind of thread that
grabs my interest. For some reason google doesn't rank this with any
Anyway, that was three years ago. This fall I contacted the director
of Camp Potlatch for the third year in a row. I figure fall is a good
time to do it since the camp isn't full of kids, but rain or something
seemed to hold me off until ski season when I'd lose interest.
I've entered a detailed description of the trail in the wiki. I
arrived at Porteau Cove sometime after 8:30 -- about the time I was
hoping to be at Camp Potlatch.
my transport; Tantalus and Woodfibre
By the time I was all geared up and on the water it was 9:30. It took
a little over an hour to paddle across. The outflow was blowing
pretty strong, but it was forecast to die down during the day. The
wind is focused in a narrow band in the middle of the channel; at
Porteau Cove you don't feel the brunt of it, and at the Defence
Islands it was calm.
Up the Sound; Wrottesley; Port Mellon; and Anvil Island with my signature tilt
After sorting out the kayak, changing, and talking with the caretaker,
it was close to 11:30 by the time I started hiking. The trail up the
Potlatch Valley is well used. It runs mostly on a very old logging
road. To cross Potlatch Creek I took my boots off.
A little after that, a trail junction:
indicates the trail that climbs up to the newer Potlatch logging road
at about 400m. This road comes from McNab Creek and looks to be in
good shape, so mountain-biking from there might be an option.
The west end of the ridge that is southwest of Brennan Lakes; This deer wouldn't get off the road. It took me a while to clue in that I should take a picture of her. When she was satisfied that she'd been immortalized, she moved onto the cutbank to let me pass.
Okay, the road is not all in good shape:
Up a spur road,
up a cutblock, through open forest with orange markers easy to follow. A helicopter pad cut out of the old growth allows a view of Ellesmere:
Finally we reach the alpine, and swing in a big arc around the
headwaters of the creek that washed out the bridge so as to summit via
the south ridge. Why the trail didn't just continue directly up the
north side of that creek and give access to the east ridge, I don't
know. Here's a map:
the summit; towards Bowen
It took me five hours to reach the summit. On the way up, I saw the
ceiling descending over Mount Garibaldi. I took some pictures across
McNab Creek while I had the chance.
Looks like somebody's done a bit of logging in there.
On the summit, it was raining. The view to the north was already
pretty much gone.
I didn't stay on the summit long. I retraced my steps. By the time I
entered the forest I had put the headlamp on. Not long after that the
hike began to take on the flavour of an epic. The forest is one that
has no undergrowth; it is all brown beneath the canopy, so travel is
easy. The trail through here didn't have a discernable footbed, but it
didn't matter on the way up. But now the orange markers were
invisible. I just cruised down the hill in the general direction,
figuring I'd make contact with a marker, but I didn't. The critical
thing here is getting across to the north side of the creek. Now I
wasn't sure that I hadn't already descended too far. I decided to hike
back up the hill and then descend beside the creek, looking for the
crossing bench. Well the terrain beside the creek is of course
considerably more difficult, and it didn't take long to convince
myself that this was a really bad idea in the dark.
I actually resigned myself to making a bivy. This wouldn't've been a
problem, but I was worried that the folks at Camp Potlatch would push
a panic button if I wasn't out in the morning. Since it would be a
long night, I would at least get myself back on the trail so that I
could make a speedy exit in the morning. This meant hiking back up the
hill again; the slope narrows farther up, reducing the search
space. Fortunately I stumbled upon an orange marker before I got all
the way up there. I ended up following the trail out after all,
cautiously exploring from one marker to the next. By the light of the
headlamp, I realized that there was a faint visible footbed and so
progress wasn't that bad. There were a few markers that had me stymied
for a long time though. Once at the creek crossing, the trail was easy
to follow all the way back to the Camp. It took me seven hours to
The night was calm, and it was clear and moonlit by this time too. I
left a note for the caretaker, and had a good paddle back, less than
an hour. It was very late by the time I got to bed though.