Tomorrow I'm finally setting off on my trip down the Pitt River from the Mamquam area of Garibaldi Park to Pitt Lake. I plan to go down the Fraser River and pull out at New Westminster and take the Sytrain home.
I have a Spot map page if you want to follow along.
Well I "made it through", sort of. I also made it on the news last night after I called for a helicopter pickup. Wasn't expecting all the fanfare.
I got over into the Pitt River and was making decent progress downstream and got through maybe 95% of the hard stuff. I had about 15 km left of the lively river until the hot springs, after which the river is sluggish and not an issue. Then one morning Google Earth decided to not work on my phone anymore. Based on the power of the river and the dangerous sweepers everywhere, and that there were still a couple obstacles to come, I did not feel it was safe to continue without proper navigation about what was coming up around the next corner. The river is powerful enough that you could potentially get stuck some place (or worse) and not be able to get back out upstream if need be. Based on what I saw from the helicopter, I think I made the right choice but in high likelihood I would have been fine. But my assessment of the risk without that knowledge of the river forced me to call it.
The area is really beautiful with some nice forests. I have a lot of photos and commentary to share so I'll post that up over the next few weeks as I sort it out.
Reminds me of the good old days when we studied aerial photos of remote rivers, which never had enough detail. Google Earth may be a bit better but still nowhere near good enough to see if a rapid can be paddled.... and it won't show the log that fell across the river a couple of days ago ;-)
Share the photos please! Did you hike in from Elfin?
Yes, crossed into Pitt via the pass behind Rampart Ponds.
So, I'm finally decompressed enough to write up a trip report! Soon to come! This was a great trip, too bad I wasn't quite prepared enough to complete it. I needed a couple more days of food. I could have made it if Google Earth didn't crap out, then bummed a ride down the lake. I realise that the problem is I was opening and closing GE too often. It was trying to re-initialise every time without access to the internet and it would give me a warning message. After a few times of that it just wouldn't open up anymore.
GE would have given me enough resolution to navigate the river since I was using it to check for gravel bars where I could pull out if needed. Since I knew there were a few rapids coming up, without Goggle Earth I didn't know if the next bend would send me straight into it without a gravel bar to let me get out.
Maybe I'll try again next year. Would be nice to spend more time exploring but that eats up food and you have to carry it.
Interest: Canoeing, Hiking, Fishing and Bear kissing.
I'm assuming you were kayaking? I've paddled down the Harrison and into the Fraser by canoe, quite dangerous where the confluence of the two rivers meet... I think I wrote a trip report about that here years ago.
I'm finally getting to this trip report. I don't know why it took so long to write it up; maybe it took a couple years to decompress.
I had always wanted to explore the riverside old growth forests in south-eastern Garibaldi Park. I finally booked the two weeks to do this trip that seemed to only be possible in late summer at the end of the dry season.
I scoured Google Earth for months beforehand figuring out the best way in and looking at the whole route down the Pitt Valley out to the lake. I decided that I could get in from the Mamquam area and down a side valley leading into the main valley.
As usual, I wasn't properly prepared since my life was a disorganized mess, and I set off in my 4runner to the Diamond Head campground above Squamish. I have a good packing list that includes everything you could possibly need; the issue is that I am usually scrambling to pull everything together at the last minute that I miss something. And while I hate all the "development" happening on the Sea to Sky corridor, I have to admit that it's super handy having a London Drugs at the base of the wilderness base camp to pick up a selfie stick and splinter picker tweezers before leaving civilization.
It was fairly late when I got to the parking lot but I made it to Elfin Lakes campground before dark on that Friday, Aug 2, 2019 which I had reserved since you now have to. Saturday would have been packed so I started on Friday. I was expecting the night to be noisy from snoring with so many people around but I actually had one of the best sleeps in a while.
The next day I hiked the trail to Rampart Ponds. I have never been on that trail and it is quite interesting as it descends to a valley bottom then climbs back up. There were lots of day runners on the trail; that would be fun without all the weight. I'll have to try that this year.
My shoulders were getting pretty sore. I hadn't properly trained for the weight. At Rampart Ponds I veered off the trail and followed them along, having a brief conversation with a couple there, the last people I'd see for a while.
In the picture above, on the left is Mount Garibaldi. I'd be going up the green hill on the right to a pass that leads into the Pitt drainage. There are beautiful views of Mamquam Lake as you ascend. The hike wasn't bad; similar to the Grouse Grind in effort.
As I got to the top it became more rocky and I made my way to the ponds that mark the pass. There was still snowfields in the ponds, carving off little icebergs. I set up my tent literally right on the divide between the drainages.
Looking northwest to Mt. Garibaldi:
Below image is looking north to the meltwater river I'd have to cross the next morning since the south side of the valley looked impassable in a few places. I would actually cross the river way far left in this image where it is gentler and safer than the little canyon and whitewater you can see downstream to the right. And in the morning the water would be lower.
Looking northeast down the valley I'd be tackling tomorrow:
The first part of this day's trek was a steep descent down some rocks into the valley. They didn't look too bad on Google Earth but you can never tell with those kinds of things. They turned out to be steeper than expected, but still passable - barely. Any steeper and they would have been pretty dangerous, at least with all the weight on my back. They consist of a series of sloped terraces between steeper sections. I used my paddle pole with a sock on the end to protect it and picked my way down.
Looking back up:
I needed to veer to the west to cross the meltwater creek high up because it was gentler there.
You can see the little canyon here further downstream I wanted to avoid, and above is the hill I came down:
I got wet feet unfortunately but it was going to happen sooner or later now so not much I could do. I made my way down the north side of the valley which was really pretty with interesting features and plants. Here's a little Douglas Fir. What are you doing up here buddy? Not looking too happy...
Midway down the valley there is a big rock sticking out. I went up to the top of this thinking I could continue along to the other side but you can't. You have to go back down and around it by the river. But it did provide a nice vantage point. Looking back at the rock:
Across the valley you can see another pass that I was originally considering as an entry into the valley. It is from the valley leading up from Mamquam Lake, through the pass onto the steep scree slope you see here. I'm glad I didn't choose that route as the slope looks dangerous, and I would have had to set up the boat to paddle across Mamquam Lake.
Also here you can see the snowfields that extend across the river. This is another reason to stay on the north side since I didn't want to potentially fall through it into the river. That would be likely death. Those snowfields are downslope of the pass coming from Mamquam Lake.
The vegetation was gradually thickening as I went down the valley with occasional bush whacking required but nothing too crazy. At times I could walk along the rocks right beside the river.
Some small bear tracks:
Eventually the forest closed in and the river plunged down its canyon.
Some nice yellow cypress:
I camped at the last open area before the hill gets steep as it goes down into the main valley. This equates to the last area before the "U" of the U shaped valley begins, which is the steep walled section carved out by glaciers in the main valley.
It was hot in the sun and the only suitable tent site was in the sun, so I tried to rest in the shade of a tree but the bugs were annoying.
Overall I was pleased with the progress, though a bit worried about the rough river crossings I'd have to do tomorrow morning.