Illal Meadows, Illal Mountain, and Jim Kelly Peak (July 1-3, 2016) - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Default Illal Meadows, Illal Mountain, and Jim Kelly Peak (July 1-3, 2016)

Ive noticed a few threads asking about the conditions at the dreamy Illal Meadows, so I thought Id do a trip report of my adventures there on July 1-3, 2016. After bagging Yak Peak, we headed out to Illal for 2 nights of peak bagging, faffing about, and general exploration. A big thank you to Ashika Parsad who kindly gave me some route ideas and great intel for this trip.

THE ROAD TO THE TRAILHEAD
The Tulameen FSR is a thing of beauty these days. Ive seen roads in Surrey in worse shape.

The road that branches off the Tulameen and takes you to the trailhead just after the Illal Creek bridge (N49 31.841' W120 57.747') is in decent shape. We were in an older Ford Ranger with decent clearance and we were able to make it to the parking area about 2km in (N49 31.921' W120 59.152'). High clearance and 4WD are still required to get to the official trailhead (N49 32.056' W120 59.802').

Note, however, that the trees have started to encroach on the road in some places. If you happen to like having a scratch-free car, you might think twice about taking it.

JULY 1, 2016: THE TRAIL AND THE MEADOWS
The trail is quite easy to follow. The cumulative elevation gain is a little shy of 700m, and the path is about 7km long (depending on where you stop in the meadows). Once you get to the meadows, the trail all but disappears at parts. Make sure that you can recognize how to reconnect to it for the way back.

When we were there, the meadows got socked in with clouds around 7:30pm and would clear up around 10:30am. Luckily, that is prime whisky drinking time. Temperatures at night were around 5 degrees Celsius. The wind was extremely strong at night and in the morning. Make sure to camp somewhere with some cover and bring earplugs as well as warm clothes.

There is a ton of water in the meadows, courtesy of some large, north-facing patches of snow. Most of the tarns are still too chilly for a comfortable swim. The trees are, unsurprisingly, small and there are no great places to hang food. We used a bear bin (which also had the benefit of keeping our food out of the rain and dry).

JULY 2, 2016: JIM KELLY PEAK AND ILLAL MOUNTAIN
We climbed Jim Kelly Peak in the early morning after the clouds dissipated. We approached it by heading up the col between it and Illal Mountain (around here: N49 31.765' W121 02.770'). We managed to find a trail up to the base of where the scree/talus slopes start. We lost the trail and then pretty much eyeballed a path to the summit (see attached GPS track photo). There is some class 3 scrambling, with lots of loose shale and other rocks. Use caution. There was no snow. Jim Kelly looks imposing, but we managed to get up in 30 minutes. The view from the top is breathtaking. Im not sure Id want to be up here on a rainy, socked in day.

After some food and about a thousand photos, we headed down Jim Kelly and took the col over to Illal Mountain. There is a very well defined path which meanders along tarns and offers spectacular vistas of the Needle, Flatiron, Yak, and their ilk. The trail will peter out as you get to the west side of Illal Mountain, but by now you can head right up to the summit (see attached GPS track photo, but beware that my GPS seemed to get wonky around the summit). From there, you get another perspective of the surrounding peaks. We marvelled at the delicious looking ridges and hanging lakes that seemed to call out our names. Again, there was no real snow along the trail.

We returned to camp off trail (enjoying some quality bum sliding along the way) and luxuriated in the sun for an hour before wandering around the meadows and finding some lakes further afield.

JULY 3, 2016: THE RETURN TRIP & THE BOBCAT/COUGAR
It was another cold, rainy morning. We made an early start to try to avoid traffic heading back to town. As we were breaking camp, a number of other campers came out of the woodwork. This area is big enough that you may never see the other groups around.

It took us about an hour to get back to the trailhead. About 20 minutes from the trailhead, though, we saw what looked to be either a bobcat or a cougar (unlikely because it only had a stubby little tail) on the trail. There is thick brush in this area, so keep your eyes peeled in case she calls that stretch home. She didnt seem bothered by us, and slowly slinked away once she saw us.

After getting changed and back on the road, we stopped off at the little food truck at exit 217 for some burgers before the final stretch back to Vancouver.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-04-2016, 11:07 PM
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good to know the conditions!
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 02:28 PM
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Thanks a lot for this; I am hoping to do something similar soon!!

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post #4 of (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot for this; I am hoping to do something similar soon!!
My pleasure, penguinabc123. Let me know how your trip goes. :-)
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 04:26 PM
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Glad the weather cleared up for you guys the second day (we were the ones with the SK license plate heading down while you were heading up). Thanks for posting the report and pics.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Glad the weather cleared up for you guys the second day (we were the ones with the SK license plate heading down while you were heading up). Thanks for posting the report and pics.
That's too funny. My buddy and I were wondering if we'd run into treord8. Welcome back to BC, doc!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-05-2016, 04:43 PM
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That's too funny. My buddy and I were wondering if we'd run into treord8. Welcome back to BC, doc!
haha, thanks, glad to be back in the mountains!
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 07-07-2016, 02:48 AM
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Many thanks for posting your report, really appreciate knowing what to expect bringing in a group. The alder growth and snow conditions on the meadows are my primary areas of enquiry.

K

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 07-08-2016, 03:48 PM
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Great pics! Glad you had a fun trip. We haven't been up Jim Kelly yet, will have to get back there this summer.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 07-09-2016, 10:13 PM
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We hiked the HBC trail from the Jacobson Lake trailhead and camped at Conglomerate Flats last weekend - got distant views of Jim Kelly and Coq Mtn from there. The Tulameen road is fantastic all the way in. We noted a rec site sign with vehicles there and assumed it was the access to Illal but didn't stop - watched for it on the way back out and couldn't spot it, but now that I have the co-ordinates I can see how we missed it.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Many thanks for posting your report, really appreciate knowing what to expect bringing in a group. The alder growth and snow conditions on the meadows are my primary areas of enquiry.

K
Hardly any snow in the meadows, Karvitk. As for alder growth, I'm not much of a tree guy, so I can't really comment. What trees are there are understandably stunted, and there are patches here and there to nestle up to at night to (try to) hide from the wind.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 01:13 AM
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We did our day hike today, started right at the main FSR, so walked the 3.3 km to the parking lot, scrambled Jim Kelly, and some also did Illal, and back.

Just two major strips of snow slopes to get across. so not bad.

K

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