Two officially named peaks on the southeast side of the Cantilever Range near Lytton. This range also features the two highest mountains in SW BC - Skihist and Petlushkwohap (based on Fairley's Guide). To reach anything higher you must venture into the Lillooet Icefield area where Mount Tisiphone comes in at 3021m.
Paulyman and company did an overnighter up there 5 years ago and Vlad and others were up that way on an overnighter a couple of months back. I chatted with both to get an idea of what to expect and they figured I should be able to do things as a day trip. That was good for me as I wanted a relaxed Sunday not dealing with summer traffic along with possible rain and thunder that was forecasted.
From Boston Bar I cross the Fraser River and take west side roads (mostly gravel) up to Kwoiek Creek FSR. 6km north of the Nahatlatch junction and just south of Kwoiek Creek there is BC Hydro signage saying No Public Access. The Kwoiek Creek FSR is in great shape due to an IPP project and past the head pond the road is still fine to the North Kwoiek Creek FSR spur. This road is not so fine and I park almost right away. Just under 3.5 hours drive time from Vancouver.
From here I walk up the road which features plenty of alder in places to push through with other parts open. Getting to North Kwoiek Creek I find the short route upstream and cross on a felled log then continue onwards to about km 2.5 where a small stream crosses the road. Backtracking slightly I enter the cutblock (which was reasonably open) and ascend up to mature forest keeping the creek within hearing distance on my left.
What came next was what everyone else had warned me about - forest travel that features numerous deadfall. Things got varied with some meandering to bypass the worst or clambering over stuff. It seemed a little easier (for a while) to stay on terrain close to/above the creek gully and I also saw an old silver trail marker nailed to a tree at one point. Some bushy sections presented themselves too but overall the hiking went well enough (I also was not lugging an overnighter pack).
After another bush zone further up the trees started to thin out and more rock was seen. I found a good spot with a view to pause after 2 hours of hiking, sitting down for some food and drink before continuing up into the alpine.
Kwoiek Needle and the Kumkan area to the southwest.
The terrain now became a minor jigsaw puzzle with some trees, Krummholz, bluffs, ramps, gullies, steps, bush and the like. A bit more weaving going on here too but easy enough to continue the elevation gain in a constant manner. By the time I hit 2200m elevation the ridge becomes well defined and open. Nikaia was coming into view and being the highest (and on the advice of Paul) I chose to aim for it first. As soon as the slope left of me relaxed it's steepness I boulder hopped down to the broad plateau between the two peaks. A nice lake is nearby, nestled under the north side of the WSW ridge of Klowa. There's also some snow so I wander over to it and dump some in my water bottle.
Nikaia at left and the approach to/across the plateau. A sub peak of it on the right.
The view down the other side of the plateau into the Upper Nikaia Creek Valley and a couple more nice lakes.
The hike becomes a walk for the next while heading up the southeastern slopes then rather abruptly I hit the first crux. Big boulders, minor route finding etc. where the ridge narrows. Easy enough and the walk up continues to crux number two. Again, the ridge narrows with a notch and a minor cliff face on the other side. No problems with that, most of the rock is solid. After that it's more easy walking up to the summit ridge and onto the peak where looking west Skihist and Petlushkwohap stand very tall.
The view westward.
East Stryen Creek Valley with Mount Roach above. Siwhe and Stein Mountains distant left. Nikaia NE3 at right. A trail goes into this valley starting from the Stein River/Valley Trailhead (Shadowchaser has a TR on it).
Klowa Mountain and the high alpine lake where I'm headed next (the ridge at 3 o'clock is where I came in from). Headwaters/lakes of Nikaia Creek lower shot.
Zoom on Skihist.
Zoom on Petlushkwohap.
2628m summit shot.
Not quite an hour spent up there. The plateau near the lake was quite windy but I was fine in a T-shirt whilst on the summit. Bugs had been present throughout the day, nothing bad though (blackflies around more than mosquitoes). The horseflies kept me company for a good portion of the alpine travel and I got a few bites.
Approaching the lower crux on the descent.
Klowa and the lake.
The lake has no visible outflow and I was looking at my water situation. I've always taken water from a moving water (stream etc.) or digging down in snow but I made an exception this time and filled my backup bottle. As this lake is at 2260m elevation I hoped it would be clean. From here I went up the WNW side of the western ridge (easy going) to reach the summit ridge that has a few bumps to get over/around on the way to the peak.
Looking back at Nikaia. The two easy going cruxes are the breaks along the ridge leading to the peak.
I tried to stay high and on the ridgeline for Klowa but was forced off a little a couple of times. A route always presented itself and made for a pleasant scramble to the peak where there was a bit of a breeze and a raven landed on a nearby subpeak where it was hassled by what looked like a magpie. Phone service from here was good as the SE ridge drops down about 10km to the Fraser River and civilization. No need for a sweater on this peak either.
The view back along the ridge.
Another view of the Nikaia Creek Valley. There are 5 lakes in the upper section. Lytton somewhere off to the right in the distance.
Klowa's SE ridge dropping down to the Fraser. Kwoiek Valley below right. Stoyoma, The Nipple and Scuzzy visible way back.
Nikaia and the Upper Nikaia Creek Valley.
Zoom on Jackass with Stoyoma at rear. The Lytton/Jackass trip was where I got a good view of this area which got me curious then Vlad and company came here which had me interested enough to do some research where I rediscovered Paul's trip.
And a zoom on Roach with Siwhe and Stein on either side.
2527m summit shot.
Time was still looking okay as I packed up and followed the ridge back then dropped off the WSW side aiming to pass above the lake then descend a little to reach the point I'd dropped off the ridge earlier in the day.
The lake and Nikaia.
Passing by above it.
One last look then I start the long descent. A few waypoints had been taken coming up and it was good to have them as a reference. Apart from the silver marker and the summit cairns there was no other sign of human presence above the cutblock. I was thirsty enough by now to pour some lake water into my main water bottle (now 4 days later and no ill effects).
Idea of the terrain near the alpine. Blocky rock, ramps, krummholz etc. all mixed in to make things interesting.
Going downwards through a bunch of fallen trees is easier than going up. I did snag one broken branch on my shorts resulting in a nice tear as I was in the process of sliding off the log and I got the usual bushwack type scratches on my arms. I entered the cutblock at a different spot and found a boulder field through a good part of it to make travel back to the old road easy. Back to North Kwoiek Creek, a quick wash and then down to my vehicle where the hidden cooler bag (and ice pack) have lost the battle against the heat of the day. The beer still went down great before I changed up and drove out.
Kwoiek Creek Road junction area and penstock.
It's dark by the time I reach Boston Bar and some refreshments before driving back towards Vancouver where I spent the night at my parents as I hadn't seen them in a while, going for a walk in the morning, getting groceries and not doing a whole lot the rest of the day.
Map and rough idea of the route.
Elevation gain was about 2100m cumulative and just under 10 hours round trip.