The Cadwallader Range extends south from the small (mining) town of Bralorne to the well known Tolkien Group of peaks with Mount John Decker the southern most summit near Birkenhead Lake. Doug, Alex, Ben and I drove The Hurley to the Bralorne Connector and followed that into the small town. Along the connector a grizzly bear paced us along the road for a km before veering off into the bush. We drove the Noel Creek FSR a short while then turned up a spur road (some steep sections with waterbars) that got us to landing at about 1460m elevation.
Ready to go.
From there we follow an ATV track to the alpine where the views really start to open up. Heather and gravel give way to the same type of rock that makes the Twin Sisters in Washington State so much fun - super grippy and rough. Here though the rock is more fractured as we traverse the west side of a couple of subpeaks then up to Sunshine.
Mount Noel to the west.
You can stay with the ridge crest on good rock or there's a ramp a little below. Either way it's an easy scramble to reach the summit (the earlier traverse is more tricky) which has flying ants on it so we retreat to a flatter section nearby. First views of Crazy Peak are impressive, as is The Bendor Range to the north and east.
Bendor Range - northern section which includes Truax and Bobb.
Mount Sloan was looking pretty good too. Muskeeto, Michelle and Gord probably on the northeast ridge when the shot was taken.
2315m summit shot. 2 people weren't committed to acknowledging the camera.
After rousing everyone we dropped off Sunshine, got into a bit more traversing then followed the south ridge down into a bowl which featured a few tarns. Doug's knees were giving him a bit of grief so he elected to check out the tarns and chill for a while whilst we went (to) Crazy. We crossed the bowl saying hello to a couple of marmots then ascended talus and a bit of snow to gain the northwestern ridge of Crazy.
Alex, Ben and Doug leaving Sunshine with Crazy as a backdrop. We'd gain the northwestern ridge just out of picture right.
On the ridge, Sunshine at left, Bendor Range background and some tarns in the bowl below.
The Gold Bridge and Bralorne areas are well known for gold mining so it shouldn't be a surprise to see these coloured mushrooms (well, it was a surprise as Ben and I had never seen gold coloured mushrooms before).
The first part of the ridge was smooth travel and we quickly gained elevation. After a small bump we dropped into a flat area then started up steeper and looser talus - nothing difficult and this got us to a shoulder and the top of a pocket glacier. The scrambling begins from here and there was usually a couple of options depending on comfort/exposure level.
It was hard to stop looking at The Bendor Range. Crazy Creek Valley below.
Ben (front) and Alex and one of the few gullies used.
We could mostly stay on the ridge crest with a couple of ledges (or gullies) used to avoid pinnacles. The rock not as good as Sunshine but not too bad and nothing went above class 3 with some exposure. As for the name, Crazy is the original (though unofficial) name but bivouac.com called it Cadwallader as it's the highest peak in the range. It shows up as that on google maps. Cheam and Joffre aren't the highest peaks in their range/group however.
Ben and Alex reaching the summit. West to northwest ridge stretched out behind them with Sunshine on the right. Noel, Sloan and Dickson prominent at rear.
Alex and a backdrop of Marriott, Matier, Birkenhead, Olds and Oleg along with Chism nearer by.
On the summit and a better view of Truax in the Bendor Range.
Plutus Creek Valley and Plutus peak. Whitecap the high peak centre left (and the highest peak in The Bendor Range). Seton and other Downton peaks centre right.
I definitely want to visit some Bendor Range peaks. Truax, Williams and Bobb the high ones in this shot.
2608m summit shot: Alex, Ben and me.
After about 45 minutes we packed up and started down the ridge still enjoying the great views that this area has to offer. We made good time but we all had our cameras out frequently.
Looking back to where we'd just been.
After scraping some snow into water bottles we dropped off the ridge spotting Doug (a spec) by one of the tarns. The marmots whistled again as we passed then we chose to take the full southern ridge up to cut out the talus traverse, meeting Doug at a flat moonscape section below the red rock summit area of Sunshine. We had thought of bypassing the summit but Doug had left his poles down the other side so we ascended back to the top and were glad we did as evening light on Crazy and other distant peaks was pleasant and we could take one more break before heading back to camp.
Moonscape and transition area from grey to red rock.
Sunshine summit shot where everyone is vertical.
I was the last to leave as usual as it was hard to depart this scenic area and I caught up with the others hunting around for Doug's poles which Alex found after backtracking slightly. We contour around the sub peaks and down to the sub alpine bowl then follow the trail down to the landing around dusk, crack open some beers, make sleeping arrangements and start on dinner as we'll be spending the night.
Another truck drove up as darkness took over, a group of 4 from Squamish who frequent this area often (summer and winter). They were here for a few hours to watch the meteor shower before heading back to stay in Bralorne. We ate our dinner as they got a fire going then we all sat around talking for a while before they left and it was after midnight (and quite a few beers) before we all turned in. Not too many meteors seen on this night though.
Doug and I were woken at 6:30 by Ben talking up a storm so we all got up and had a leisurely breakfast and discussed what the plan was for today. Truax would have been nice but a good sized distance and elevation gain so we were happy to potter around something easier. Down to Bralorne then north a bit to get on Kingdom Lake FSR. We had a couple of ideas, one being Mount Ferguson but we couldn't find the trailhead so continued down (south) on the road to the Piebiter Creek area. There we had a choice of the Standard Creek Trail towards McGillivray Pass or the Piebiter Creek Mining Road.
We chose the latter (we also didn't have a lot of info on this area so were winging it a little). The old road is in good shape with a couple of bypass trails and we soon got to the old mining cabins with racks upon racks of core samples.
Old mining shacks near the creek.
No bridge across the creek though and it was flowing fast so we looked up creek for a way across but didn't find anything. Ben ended up wading across (up to thigh high) and we saw a mouse like creature (vole? shrew?) that ran from us and swam upstream in the creek. Royal Mountain was above us and the goal but we didn't feel particular motivated to cross the creek and join Ben so he came back and we found a good spot for some food (and picked wild raspberries) before heading back down to drink more beer.
Then it was off to Gold Bridge (first time for me) and the general store was open so we grabbed some food and drink. Gun Lake for a swim seemed like a good idea so we continued northwards and on to the road in that direction. Downton Lake Reservoir was drawn down so we paused by there for a picture before going uphill to Gun Lake.
Downton Lake with Truax subpeaks left to centre and Brexton and maybe Ferguson on the right.
Gun Lake had lots of private houses all around it but we found the boat launch area with a small dock and went there to relax for a while. I was the only person who went for a swim as it didn't feel quite as warm up here. First time in this area for me too.
Feeling refreshed we all piled back in my vehicle and drove back towards Gold Bridge, taking the Hurley turn off and that road all the way back. This road is currently rough at both ends with the higher sections not too bad. Plenty of vehicles parked at the Semaphore Trailhead. At Pemberton we enjoyed quality food at McDonald's and Doug felt like a swim so we stopped at Mile One Lake before heading home. A little bit slow south of Squamish then good back into West Vancouver where I dropped off Alex and Ben. First time Doug and I have hiked with them - both veterans of multi-day mountain traverses, numerous other peaks and fun guys to hang out with.
Doug and I head back into Vancouver, I drop him off and head home very content with this outing as the country up that way is spectacular and the possibilities around there and going north into the Chilcotins seem almost endless.
Rough idea of route.