Mamquam Lake and Opal Cone - 2013-08-24 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
Summit Master's Avatar
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Location: Van, BC, Canada.
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Default Mamquam Lake and Opal Cone - 2013-08-24


I had unfinished business up behind Elfin (, now following in the footsteps of ubishops (

Elevation Profile:

Google Earth birdseye:

Google Earth 3d:

With rain in the forecast in the early morning hours I decided against an alpine start and rolled into the parking lot a little after 8. The cool weather, slight breeze, and heavy cloud/lack of sun were perfect conditions for a distance hike.

Google Earth 3d - Paul Ridge:

Boring hike along the road up to Red Heather and then along Paul Ridge. Still in cloud, so no views.

Standard Elfin shot:

Google Earth 3d - Elfin and Ring Creek:

The trail from Elfin to where you drop into Ring Creek has seen some minor trail work (not a lot was needed since it's a road, afterall).

Ring Creek valley:

The recent trail work has seen a fairly significant rerouting once you reach Ring Creek. After the switchback down close to the creek, the old trail swung up the valley, crossed that really sketchy washout section, and paralleled climbers left of the creek for a while. The new trail makes a hard right rather than swinging up the valley (I assume to bypass the sketchy sidehill). A series of good looking wooden steps have been added, which brings you down to the new bridge. The new bridge is concreted on to a few big boulders, so hopefully it will survive the spring melts.

Marking for new trail:

New bridge:

Still avy debris downstream of the new bridge:

Some of the new stairs:

After crossing, the newly cleared trail follows climbers right of the creek. It's only recently been made, so the bed itself is still unconsolidated and your feet may end up sinking an inch or two.

Wildlife by the trail:

Looking back at sketchy washout section of old trail (probably a good thing the new trail routes around it, as there pretty much isn't a trail there anymore):

After a while you reach the end of the trail work. You continue following the existing trail (which I assume is more of a winter route on the way to the Neve), which is less distinct, but still easy to follow plus cairned and marked. After following that through a more eroded section, it joins up with the old trail not to far after where the old bridge used to be.

Google Earth 3d - Ring Creek and Opal crater lasso:

The trail, of course, does one big switchback to gain the top of the lateral moraine. Everything is still in good shape.

At the right hand switchback, where the trail continues on for the Neve, there is a handy cairn and sign in case you don't know the area:

Topping out on top the moraine, you are in a lusher meadow area on the slopes off Opal. Past wildflower season for me. I followed the trail to the Opal Cone junction and continued on to the Lava Glacier flats beyond. The trail crosses the flats before a few short switchbacks leading you towards the Zig Zag creek valley.


Bishop Glacier:


Video 360 panorama - flats:

Google Earth 3d - Zig Zag creek and Mamquam Lake:

Zig Zag creek valley:

Things along this stretch were just as I remembered them from years past. The trail sidehills downhill towards the creek. Due to washouts, there are a few somewhat sketchy bits - specifically small but steep washouts that you have to scramble down and then up. Nothing too extreme though, and you are shortly deposited at Zig Zag Creek.

Like with Ring, this area has seen work and there is a new trail routing. The old trail went a bit upstream for the crossing. The new trail diverts you a little downstream to where they have installed the new bridge.

When I got there, there was something not quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it...

No matter, a quick stroll upstream and I found some rocks I could hop across with only getting the soles of my boots wet (note poles very useful here for balance, as are waterproofed boots).

More wildflowers here:

For whatever reason, a new trail has been created for the climb up to the Rampart Ponds col-ish thing. The old route basically switchbacked up the middle of the slope. The new trail goes up the right hand side. Again, a nice wide well done trail... unconsolidated so you sink a bit, extremely so near the top where the ground is saturated with water and your boots really do sink.

At the top I came across the workcamp of the trail elves:

The trail work continued down the other side down towards Mamquam Lake - the existing trail has been widened and erosion control diggings have been made.

I came across the second trail bobcat:

Keen eyed observers among you will have noticed that there is no trail after the bobcat. A work in progress, I suppose. Pity they obscured the old trail and lead you right to where the new trail stops :P Their new routing takes a slightly different path than the old, and its easy to walk through the meadow to get from one to the other though.

The remainder of the trail down to the lake is in its prior state, that is to say narrower and rougher and more slippery... but still easily travelled. In pretty much 5 hours on the nose I arrived at Mamquam Lake.

Bear hang:

As mentioned previously, the outhouse now has a view:


Lakefront tent platforms (slightly warped):

Panorama - Mamquam Lake:

Video panorama - Manquam Lake:

After a rest I retraced my steps. On the way back I decided to lasso the Opal Cone crater, so diverted off the main trail to quickly do that.

Views from Opal ascent:

Panorama - Lava Glacier:

Video 360 panorama - Opal Cone:

Demoralizing look at all I have left to do:

Climbing out of Ring Creek valley the rain started and the temperature dropped, so I had to put on my light jacket. Stopped off briefly at the cook shelter at Elfin to rest/fuel up for the final push home. The place was packed - basically standing room only - even with the now crappy weather.

I covered the ridge back to the car in surprisingly decent time. It was the first time in a long time that it felt like 'fall' too - cooler temps, higher winds, and rain. The sun was low in the sky, and I was just getting out of the clouds by the end of the ridge:

Made it back to the car in a shade over 12 hours, and with a handful of minutes of daylight to spare.

At 44.8km, a new personal best day hike distance, and the first time I've hiked more than a marathon distance (a goal of mine for a while now). All things considered, I'm feeling surprisingly good today - likely because its such an easy trail for virtually the entire way).

-Ryan is offline  
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 07:22 PM
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Posts: 568

Enjoyable TR - I particularly liked the picture looking back towards Ring Valley, Gargoyles, Columnar, and Paul Ridge.

And I agree - for some reason, hikes in the Elfin / Mamquam Lake area feel shorter on the legs than they really are.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 08:30 PM
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Interest: Outdoor stuff...especially scrambling,trailrunning,mountain biking,kayaking,and hiking, and of course photography
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A long and rewarding day!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 09:39 PM
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Nice one Ryan. No bears hanging at the bear hang I see.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 07:33 AM
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 10:14 AM
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Location: Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada.
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Great detail I wanted to see on this route. Thanks very much Ryan.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 01:56 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Surrey, BC, Canada.
Posts: 213

Wow, wasn't expecting to read of this whole thing in one day! Good on you! Must have flt good.

Still thinking of doing that loop?
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-02-2013, 09:24 PM
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Nice long outing! That's a heck of a long distance!
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