Photo of Church from Elk ridge taken June 26th 2011.
Maybe it was fitting after a visit from the Bishop?
Perhaps I needed more vegetables in my diet? (This Trip would certainly serve up a respectable amount of roughage...)
Then it could have been a simple desire to take a road less travelled.
Besides - don't most nice girls eventually make their way to Church at least some of the time?
Generally when on this kind of hunt, I like to have a partner in crime. My good friend Yosemite was busy; something about shootin' some varmits
on the other side of Tamihi [:O].
Good thing I was able to find a replacement with some suitable mountain experience.
- Me: Hey Marek, what say you?
RamblingBull: Church sounds interesting. Never been there.There's this long obvious ridge coming from the north, what do you reckon are the chances of using any of the logging roads on the way up?
Me: Well...the roads may or may not be drivable, they may have been swallowed by that ravenous CRV Alder or slid completely away, the trees could be good but are likely a bit of a maze of matchsticks/old scrubby cutblocks...
RamblingBull: Great, so that's the approach I'd prefer... Oh wait, there's an even higher peak to the west and then another one along the ridge -- I see a potential for bagging three peaks in a nice loop with some exciting bushwhacking opportunities! The top part of the ridge looks kinda steep, but we could try for a gully leading to the col between the main peak and the subpeak of Church, then descend via Old Baldy and Windy Knob down the other side. How about that?
Me: Mmmm... sure! why not!?!
So that's how the initial plan was born. Of course there were questions about the status of the roads, or what to do if the steep gully route is not feasible. Marek drew several possible lines of ascent and descent on a Google Earth 3D map. The roads could be checked ahead of time so, as this is my backyard, I did a little recce in the form of (first) a bike/hike up the maze of ATV and old logging roads off of Liumchen/Tamihi and then a little 2wd up the newer road to see if it would dump us out in an appropriate spot. The results of which told us three things. 1) the roads shown on the map were quite well aged.
and perhaps a bit fermented. 2) There was a decent road/trail connector from the lower Liumchen FSR (marked as Vedder Logging Co on Google Earth) to the old Liumchen ridge approach FSR and it could
potentially be used if necessary. 3) The new active logging road whose signage indicated “Tamihi West” would be a bit of easy travel and shave off some distance and elevation from the expected bushwhack.
(photo taken on previous Tuesday – with gate open)
We arrived at the nice new, gated road at the crack of 11:00 in our Sunday best. All of the efforts I'd employed in an attempt to gain the key to the Church gate earlier that week have been foiled. Thanks for the beta anyway Dru.
I guess I'm just not pious enough. So we'd just have to start at the valley bottom and work our way up.
< Mc Guire and Tomyhoi
We made great time along the road all the while to the repeated sounds of gunshots ringing out across the valley. Their origin seemed to be the same as the general direction of McGuire.
Ah yes! Welcome to Chilliwack.
- RamblingBull (somewhat disturbed): Is it normal to hear all this shooting around here?
Me: Absolutely, there's also a larger TNT fun park near Slesse, but it's difficult to get tickets.
RamblingBull (still a bit disconcerted): And how long are they gonna keep on shooting like that?
Me: I guess it depends on when they manage to hit whatever they were aiming at!!
The morning was hot. Fortunately we found water along the way.
It was a little after the noon hour when we came to the end of our bush-free travel and began cutting through to the top of the cutblock above us. At this point the plan was to see if we could intersect with one of the old network of roads and loosely follow them to the col between Church and its subpeak. Above the cutblock and past a matchstick section we found an overgrown road that deposited us to the bottom of a nice looking gully. Which was actually a creek bed. Which was actually an old steep road, now completely washed out but still marked on the GPS and topo maps.
The gully soon topped out on another road, traversing the slope to the south.
We followed it for a bit until it became a little too thick with alder and immature fir to make for efficient travel. We had to make a decision whether to continue traversing this side of the ridge and head for the steep gully near Church summit, likely the crux of the route; or to cross the ridge to its west side and pick up an old road heading up the broad creek valley toward Old Baldy. We decided to gamble and go for the steep gully, which we were hoping would give us a better chance of completing a loop.
So we boldly ducked into the steep forest.
A bit of travel through a small stretch of messy forest floor with a bit of blowdown (the likes of which always remind me a bit of a game of pick-up sticks
) brought us to a very nice mature stand of forest and our first views of Church and the valley we would need to travel up to reach the col.
From here; a bit of time to freshen up and then a quick trip up to the treeline in the upper valley.
The lower valley was a bit thicker than either of us expected, so our rate of travel slowed a bit. Of course it could have been partially due to the abundance of ripe blueberry and salmonberry here and the culinary distraction they provide.
Eventually this came into view.
And we'd decided it was best; rather than graze on berries, to properly fuel up, enjoy a view of the Cheam Range and take some time to review the remainder of the approach.
So far the bushwhack had been a relatively simple BW2/BA1, but now it appeared we were moving into BW3/BA2 (see http://www.alpenglow.org/themes/suba...h-ratings.html
). We both agreed to head for the trees at climber's left, and stay within their zone as much as possible to avoid the nasty bush. The ground was getting steeper and more slippery, and most of the veggie belays available to us seemed to be of the prickly variety, mainly devil's club.
- Me: Hey did you know that parts of devil's club can be eaten?
RamblingBull: Aah... I'm not that hungry actually, but you go ahead!
Me: I think I've read somewhere that it's the early spring shoots that are recommended as a food source having “an almost nutty flavour.” The inner bark has also some medicinal use.
RamblingBull: Oh, I'm happy to wait until spring.
After some steep bushwhack and dirt scrambling we finally reached the base of the gully leading to the col.
Now that we had it in view, the final crux didn't look much like a crux at all. Steep but fairly benign and relatively easy to take on foot.
On the summit of Church:
Ooops! Wrong helmet!
But no time to tarry, it was off to Old Baldy.
Whats the point score on this little find? I forget....
The travel down Church's SW ridge and up to Baldy was easy and enjoyable, with mostly sparse trees and open meadows. Nice views of the Border Peaks, Larrabee, Shuksan, Baker and other peaks on the way.
The Hellebore in the midst of its colour change from green to yellow.
Old Baldy summit provides 360 views and is a very pleasant place to stop and enjoy life and a late lunch for awhile.
It got a bit windy by now, a clear sign of us having reached the proximity of the aptly-named Windy Knob.
- Me: Hey that looks good, what is it?
RamblingBull: It's Polish sausage, would you like to have a bite?
Me: I'd love too... Hmm, that's really delicious!
RamblingBull: Glad you like it!
It was with some reluctance that we packed up. Time was getting on and we needed to move on and finish the loop. The Liumchen trail lay before us, which we followed up to the slopes of Windy Knob, veering off for a quick visit to its summit.
Since there were still a few unknowns to be expected on the proposed route down, and considering what was left of the available daylight, I didn't like the prospects of facing the bush on the lower roads on Windy Knob's NE ridge or in the valley we'd need to cross to complete the loop (at least not as much as Marek did
). So I suggested we take advantage of the road and ATV tracks I'd followed the previous Tuesday. This would make our total distance longer but the travelling would be easy with no requirement to search for the route in the approaching darkness. So what followed was a quick bushwhack down Windy Knob's NW ridge to meet up with the road again and then a long walk back out to the vehicle...
Marek near the road on Windy Knob's NW ridge -- checking out another potential water source, as by this point we were both fairly dehydrated. But this tap just didn't work!
After a lot of trotting and chatting and trotting and chatting - in the dark! - we were both happy to finally see Marek's truck.
- Me: Marek, what are our total stats?
RamblingBull: My GPS says 22.5 km total distance by odometer, and the cumulative elevation gain is 1920 m plus the initial part when I forgot to turn on the tracking (I must be getting old ), which was about 450 m... Hmm, that makes the total too much, it should be closer to 2100 m, I think...
Me: Never mind, it's good to have the GPS with us anyway.
RamblingBull (says nothing but is visibly flattered by the above comment )
However, we quickly discovered that our adventure was not over yet... The steering wheel was blocked by a club, but the key to it had been left at my place back in Chilliwack....
- Me: Marek, sorry but I‘m a bit confused - shouldn't you have the club key together with your car key?
RamblingBull: Ha! This is my newly conceived plan, most people don't understand it, so let me explain. Say, a thief gets hold of my car key, but then he faces the club, and the key is at a completely different place, so he cannot actually steal the truck! By physically separating the car key and the club key, I have prevented the stealing of my truck! [^]
Me: Yeah, but now we are having the same problem as the thief.....
RamblingBull: Exactly, if it's a challenge for us, imagine how disoriented the thief would be!
Me: But how on earth do we get back now?!
RamblingBull: ..... Oh, I see what you mean... OK, so I guess this plan still needs some tuneup... [:I]
So it looked like we had one last puzzle to solve. Luckily we were parked across from a recreational camp site with happy looking fires and a variety of people, some of whom I hoped would have some empathy for our situation and offer assistance. After some asking around I managed to find one such person -- but that kind lady only had room for one in her Porsche
[:X] So Marek stayed behind while we went on a little joyride to retain the club key.[8D]
And here is the track of our route. (minus the joyride
So whatever my reasons, it was certainly nice to finally get to Church..and it wasn't even a Sunday! Thanks for the company Marek.
- RamblingBull: My pleasure Jenn, thanks for some great team work!