Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Abbotsford, BC
Interest: Hiking (obviously), snowshoeing, backpacking
Lower Stein Valley to Suspension Bridge, March 25-26, 2017
First overnight of the year and we lucked out with fantastic weather; sunny and blue skies on Saturday and high clouds with no rain on the way out. Trail was in pretty good condition.
Few patches of snow here and there on the way to devil's staircase, then many larger patches of snow starting about 1-2 km East of devil's staircase and continuing all the way to the suspension bridge. Nothing too bad for the most part, several patches of packed ice that were a little slippery. The only sketchy part was a creek crossing on the descent from devil's stair case. The creek was frozen into a sloped sheet of ice with not much traction at all. I just about bailed hard when trying to walk across where the actual trail crosses, so we decided to head a little lower and use some branches that were frozen into and sticking out of the creek to crawl/scamper across and did similar on the way back out the next day.
First few campsites were completely snow free, teepee had the most snow but there were 2 guys and their dog camped there who still managed to find a snow free patch for their tent and gear. Earls' cabin camp also had quite a bit of snow but a few more snow-free patches and suspension bridge camp, where we stayed, had a large open area with no snow, including three clear tent pads. We had the camp all to ourselves and had an enjoyable camp fire and quiet night, except for an owl hooting for us for 30 minutes or so.
Early the next morning while eating some breakfast, we spotted a mountain goat. We watched him traverse along and join three of his friends and we were able to watch them sporadically during our first half hour of hiking out. We also spotted a downy woodpecker on the first day and several piles of wolf/coyote scat along the trail but none of the sources. No signs of bears yet, which we were happy about.
Not many people out on the trail: a day hiker with his dog on the first day, the guys and their dog previously mentioned at Teepee, a group of 5-6 guys camped at Earl's Cabin who had already spent a few days going into Cottonwood camp and back, and four day hikers heading in as we were just about back at our car.
Views along the valley were awesome, highlighted by the remaining snow and ice along the river banks and on the tops of the mountains lining the valley. Overall an enjoyable hike and successful first backpacking trip of the year.