This will probably be one of my longer reports. Katie and I had some time off line up together so we decided to try and do something bigger than usual. I wanted to get back to finishing the Scrambles book so the Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park made the most sense and it had the best weather forecast. We met at the Whatcom exit in Abby at 6am. It ended up being a 5hr drive from my house to the Wall Creek Trailhead. My Honda Accord did fine on the road, 1 section with some loose rocks to watch the clearance on. We drove by the hordes of people paying $150.00 to get the jeep ride upto the lodge. We had considered it, but quickly shut it down. We wanted to do it the pure way and walk in and out seeing what we could do in 2 nights, 3 days. It would end up being 82km and 4363m gain.
DAY 1 Deacon - Orthodox Camp at Denture - Decaon col
Before this trip I have only done 4 over night trips I think and all those were just 1 night. It took me literally a full day to pack and get ready for 2 nights and 3 days. My pack was getting close to 18kg but that's because I brought a few goodies along. Katie's pack was also rather heavy but nonetheless we started up the Wall Creek trail at 10:40am. Later than we had planned but that's cause we haven't quite dialed in this overnight pack business.
Hiking up the trail with this weight was a HUGE change for us, we had to tell ourselves we can't go at our usual pace. It felt so slow, but I think we did a good job at maintaining a steady pace. After 5km we reached the important fork. Left goes to the Lodge and right goes to the Wall Creek Meadows. We wanted to do the peaks on the Southern edge of the park first so we took the Wall Creek Meadows "route" It's a mix of trail for abit, and then a longer section of burnt forest with a ton of blowdown to climb over or under or around. This is were it's more of a route where you have to keep an eye out for flagging. Once past the burnt section it gets back into a trail as we approached the meadows. We arrived here in 4hrs 10mins and this is the area were the climbers camp and do the rock climbing routes in the area.
We only hiked up with 1.5liters of water from the start knowing there would be water in the meadows, it paid off as we only had abit left and used this time to have a snack break and fill up on water. We were going to spend the night in the meadows but the bugs were horrible so we both agreed to just do a couple hundred meters more and hike for another 45min to get to the Denture - Deacon col. The downside was having to haul 4 liters of water each this extra distance to the col. This water had to last us 2 peaks after reaching the col, cooking dinner, and then last us all day the next day.
When we arrived at the col there was no bugs, perfect! and there was an awesome spot to put the tent up right away. We ditched the big packs, I put on my mini backpack and Katie put on here trail running pack. Ahh this feels more like it, and we are back in our element. We started up from the col and the ridge that leads to Deacon. The legs were abit wobbly from the heavy packs but this section getting upto Deacon was some pretty easy class 3 on really good rock. There is a crack you have to squeeze through, so no fat chicks allowed up this mountain. Katie passes with flying colours.
Once we got to the ridge crest or course the actual summit was the furthest one South so we quickly scooted over to it, checking out the peaks just across the border in the states. 1 peaks down and many more to go.
Next on the menu was Orthodox which was now back to the Southwest. You can also climb up Orthodox via some scree slopes from down in the meadows but those didn't look fun with big packs which is why we decided to do this one second from up high, even if it meant backtracking. The terrain was really open and easy and Katie even managed to do abit of trail running on the way down into the bowl. I still prefer just to do my power hike, shuffle rather than getting into a jog or stride.
The route up Orthodox is straight forward, and once again good rock to play around on. We take the same line most of the time but other times we just take what line we wanna take. We got to the top and found a survey marker and what appeared to be a summit boulder so we made our way. There was also another crack to get through on Orthodox which you will see in the video. No fat chicks allowed on Ortho either.
Having done our 2 peaks and looking at the time it was going to be fairly tight getting back to camp in time for sunset so we tightened our laces and it was all business. Back in the bowl we worked our way back upto Deacon's ridge and then started down to the col. The lighting was starting to get nice and we hustled down back to camp leaving us enough time to change out of our day 1 clothes, put on the warm clothes, grab some snacks , and the 2 tall boy beers I also brought.
We found a good spot on the West side of the col, settled in for the sunset drinking beer and eating Pringles. I always see people's overnight sunset photos or sunrise and the few that I have done have always been worth it. Begbie in Revelstoke was my best sunrise I have seen, and this was my favorite sunset. The wind was pretty brisk from the West so once the sun was gone we went to the lee side where our tent was, ,laid on our backs and looked to the sky where the remainder of the perseids meteor shower and saw some good ones with long tails flying across the sky. But mostly we got to watch a shitload of satellites as well. A perfect way to end day 1.
Day 2 Denture Ridge - Boxcar - Lakeview - Camp at Quiniscoe Lake.
I can't remember what time we awoke at, but we definitely weren't on a mission to break any early starts. I rolled outta the tent to catch abit of late morning light on Denture ridge. We also don't break any records at packing up and making breakfast. Once all that was done, we started up Denture Ridge. The route to get to Denture- Matriarch col looked fun if you have a small pack, but not fun with our tanks, so we took the rib to the right of the col and it was abit of rock work but mainly good footing up a gully.
This gully lead us right below the true summit of Denture, Matt Gunn's Scramble book only goes to some Eastern summit of Denture ridge. We dropped our packs and climbed upto the top of Denture. You get some good views of the Matriarch - Macabre Tower- Grimface traverse. 3 down and still smiling.
Back to our big packs, this is where the trip got interesting. We had no real beta of what lie ahead in getting to the Scrambles book summit since we are going from the West and will be going down what is described in the book. It is definitely a ridge, we tried to stay on the crest as much as possible but these ridges in this area are very broken and full of towers and pinnacles, we would then get forced to go down, cross a gully, then go back up hoping it would go. It usually didn't so then downclimb, cross gully, try again. This wouldn't have been so bad with day packs but with overnighters it was pretty taxing. We then got to once spot that there was no way of bypassing, it was a stiff down climb. I climbed down abit to a ledge and took my pack off and threw it down about 25ft. Katie then passed me her pack while I was on the ledge and then threw her pack down. Gotta do what you gotta do. After this we had no problems and were ontop of the Scrambles book summit of Denture.
There was one more section that would be fine with small packs, I kept looking for a better way down but this was the way in the scrambles book. While I was looking I saw that Katie decided to toss her pack to get ready to down climb it. I think she was abit grumpy at how involved this ridge had become. She hit her target but maybe had abit too much umph in her toss and the pack then just kept going, tumbling down the mountains. I wasn't near her, but all I could here was "Please stop" "stop" "stop" . I just watched in awe as it kept going, heading straight for a huge gully. Luckily it stopped. I couldn't find a better way down so I went back to where she was. I just gave her a smile and said something like well that interesting
. I chucked my pack down to the target zone and we downclimbed it, it was abit tricky which is why we ditched the packs. After this part things got better.
We finally reached the low point which is the Boxcar- Denture col, from here you trend left and head for 2 gullies that will take you upto Boxcar's plateau. Once we reached the plateau we lumbered along to when we were below the summit, ditched the packs and walked to the high point of Boxcar and took a photo with Denture Ridge behind us.
Back to picking up the tanks we walked over to the main trail that leads up from the lakes, there were a few people milling around and Boxcar also has another bump a few meters lower, we ditched the packs and figured what the hell, it was a nice day out so we went up that one too. Then back to the tanks, we picked them up and started down the main trail.
Instead of taking the main trail to the lakes, we still had Lakeview to do so we dropped them at the Lakeview - Boxcar col and put on the lightweight packs. FINALLY!!! The route to Lakeview is a well trodden route, it just does a gradual rising traverse all the way from the col so it went by fast for us.
Standing on Lakeview peak #5 down and 3rd one of the day. Boxcar looked pretty cool from the top, we also got a look at the lake we still had to make our way to, and the full ridge line for day 3.
Denture Ridge ate up alot time and energy so we couldn't hang around too long so back to the tanks we go. The trail leading down to the lakes was in pretty good shape and took you through some really nice larch forests. We didn't talk too much on this section, my energy was starting to fade. I was probably only 30min but needed to stop and take a gel pack. I only use these when needed. We passed by all the lakes and stopped to check out Pyramid lake where the campsite is still closed from pine beetles and falling trees. Lots of fish jumping in the lake, Katie wanted to catch dinner. We thought about staying at Lake of the Woods but it would mean abit more extra distance on day 3 so we kept walking to the last lake. The main lake beside the lodge. It was a culture shock walking into the campsite at dusk looking rough. Kids screaming, people with luggage, full sized mosquito nets covering everything. Not to mention all the pads were full, we did a few laps but nothing. As we were about to leave and go find somewhere else to put up the tent we noticed 1 pad open. DONE! we setup camp, wandered over to the lodge and bought 2 beers. Katie went for a dip in the lake in the dark, I went for the handwash, we then drank our beers and a mickey of fireball ate dinner as we sat around the fire and then went to sleep. Because that's how we prepare for a 41km 1548m gain day the next day.
Day 3 Full Catherdal rim Scout Mountain to Grimface then hike out.
We kinda just came up with this the night before, never really mapped it out before hand. Honestly we didn't know it was going to be 41km, we thought quite abit less. We packed up, filled up our water that would be our only source for the day and off we went. We only had to wear our big packs for 3 or 4km where we could leave them for the whole day till we came back to them. We then went to Scout the furthest one West on the rim.
Back we go now heading east, crossing our packs again and on the main rim trail heading for Red mountain next. Red done.
The rim trail is full of ups and downs, nothing more than 200m but they still add up. After red , Quiniscoe was next.
After Qunisicoe we were on our way to Pyramid mountain. This was a slight the detour off of the main trail but was a nice ridge to travel.
After doing Pyramid, Devils woodpile is next, I think it was around here when I asked Katie how far we had traveled. She said " don't get mad" and told me the distance. I don't remember the number but it was high. The kinda number that when you look at how far Grimface is still and time of day, I had already been setting a pretty good pace from Scout, but now I was like "oh fuck"
After Devil's Woodpile we rolled into Stone City, my mood had definitely changed because of how much distance we still had to do and time of day. In Stone City as we were taking a quick photo some lady was just pointing to the sky beside us. I quickly replied with a " What's UP!?!" normally I"m very friendly to everyone. She was pointing to a marmot laying on a rock. Woops!
Sorry lady no time to chit chat, off we go to Smokey The Bear, climb a few meters to the top of it, then drop back down to the rim trail.
After the bear, go up the Giant Cleft, snap a photo, no more smiles for me, all business and focus. Drop back down to the rim and carry on.
After doing a fast pace, we finally were on the traverse to Ovis mountain and Grimface was within sight. The pace paid off, we ticked off some much needed distance in a short period of time. I think if it wasn't for Katie I would have skipped the high points and ups and downs of all those minor things, but Katie always took the high route and I followed. Ovis was no differernt. It's the last one before Grimface and nothing, but it is called a mountain in the Scrambles book so we tagged it. I was happy with how we got back on track for time so smiles could come back.
After Ovis we made it to the base of Grimface and the main gully. Upto the chockstone we go, Katie took one line up on the granite, I took another line. From here the scramble was a no brainer, lots of cairns, on rock that you could pretty much go anywhere on. Just what we wanted after such a long haul and day 3 of 3.
We had the summit to ourselves, we were able to spend a relaxing amount of time up there taking photos and eating and preparing for the long journey back to Scout mountain which was way off in the distance.
On the way down ran into a couple heading up, he recognized me and had actually gave me some beta online for Mamquam a few weeks prior. Downclimbing was a breeze and managed to take the infamous Grimface photo.
Once on the rim trail the bonus was we didn't have to go up all the bumps we did on the way in, we would take the lower trails. But there was no avoiding the big ups and downs. I was faster on the way in, Katie is usually faster on the way out. We had thought about dropping down to the lakes and hiking in the valley on nicer trails skipping a few major ups and downs but in the end we just decided to tough it out and go the way we came.
It was crazy that we didn't see any goats anywhere, there were signs of goats all over the place. I know 3 groups of people that went here after us and all had goats on the rim trail or just chilling in the campsites. We got back to out packs and flopped down in the heather not thinking about what we have left to do.
We now have 13km to go with overnight packs to get back to the car. I was kinda hoping it would be a nice swithbacked trail to the car. It was not. It had ups, and when it went down it was straight down. It was more rugged than I was hoping for. Lower down in the burn section it was steep sidehilling on dry loose dirt. Luckily we managed to do most of the 13km in light, but eventually darkness caught upto us. I think we had to hike out maybe 5km via headlamp. For that last 4 km I was bone dry for water, but not the end of the world. We still drank enough earlier in the day and Katie still had some if I was really in need. We found the bridge we crossed on 3 days prior. I swear the bridge felt like it was uphill. 41km 1548m gain and 13hrs 40min late we got to the car just a tad bit wrecked. Total trip was 82km and 4363m gain.
We did some severe blurred celebrations, cracked a beer, laid in the camp chair and relaxed. The drive home was intense. I felt like I was in star wars doing warpseed, I was seeing things like coyotes walking on medians like it was a balance beam. I think I crawled into my bed just after 3am. This trip was my longest trip in the mountains and my most favourite. 15 named peaks or locations along the way traveled to.