Way Way behind on writing up TR's. Around this time in September the lower mainland was blanketed in the forest fire smoke from South of the border. After looking at some smoke models the chilcotins were just far enough North to have some minor particulate matter so Katie and I decided to head North and hope for the best.
Day 1 was Shulaps Peak, we left at an ungodly hour from Whatcom as we normally do, did the long drive up the Fraser Canyon and then heading toward Gold Bridge. The actual Shulaps trailhead starts off of the main road but on Gaia there was a spur road that was a few hunded meters higher so we gave it a go. Katie's CRV made it to the end after moving a few bigger rocks out of the way but it was worth it.
From here there is an actual trail that leads into the direction of the main trail, the main trail is in really great shape. Mainly because it's a horse trail and leads to a giant cabin up that way. We saw some wild horses on the hill side, we walked by the horse camp / cabin and followed the Shulaps Traverse Trail which cuts below the whole range. Eventually we found our valley that would take us towards Shulaps peak and left the trail. We had Matt Juhaz's track from when he did Shulaps first then over to Brett. We decided to head up Brett first and then over to Shulaps.
Brett Peak was a pretty standard basic peak and ridge hike, the smoke was around but so was abit of views. The travel from Brett over to Shulaps looked absolutely terrible and as we started our travels over to Shulaps it was confirmed terrible. It's garbage shale, on a steep sidehill. In all the trips I have down with Katie I have never lost my frustration on a mountain until this one. I don't usually fall but the loose shale kept making me do little trips. At one point I just threw my poles as far as I could. Did it help? it kinda felt good yes.
After the sidehilling and going out of our way we finally were able to climb up towards the peak, It was a mix of shale and searching out solid sections but they were few and far between. After reaching the summit, I was finally able to cool off and take in some of the views the clouds and forest fire smoke would give us.
The trip down was much more enjoyable on the scree, the views were abit better and the huge valley we got to walk out in was quite pleasant. We made quick work of the trail once we got back on it and arrived at the CRV in no time. Gaia showed a rec site next to a lake not very far away so we quickly zipped there to setup for the night, have a dip in the lake, have a fire and stay up drinking beers until about 2am not really knowing how tough our next day would be.
Day 2 Mission Ridge and Mission Peak.
Steven Song's trip gave us this idea, somehow her CRV made it all the way up this crazy hydro service road. From the road we did about 10min of easy bushwacking and then hooked up with the main trail. The smoke was alot worse today, the views were poor and the beer and slight hangover was still real. We made it to the first bump on the ridge where an old lookout building must have been. Now it was just a pile of rubble. We carried on along the ridge until we saw the huge drop in elevation we had to do. When Steve did it, he had fingers of snow to follow. This late in the year it was a bowl of hell. Dropping into the bowl wasn't nice, travelling in the bowl wasn't nice, and getting out of the bowl on the other side wasn't nice.
Once out of the bowl we were back on the ridge. If one wants to avoid the bowl you can try to stay on the ridge proper but apparenlty run into some notches and 5th class climbing. We didn't have the energy to see if it was doable as a scramble or not. Mission Peak was still a long ways away and with many many ups and downs. We kept plugging along staring into the smoke.
Normally you get really nice views of Seton lake but nothing today, today was just a peak bag with no views kind of trip. We passed by a really interesting limestone rock that looked like it fell from outer space, it didn't belong here. On the final summit push I hit my wall from not eating proper or drinking enough along the way. My pace slowed drastically and this was the first time Katie has had to motivate me and cheer me on to finish it off. 15 minutes later we finally get to the top and I try to rest and recover and eat.
Once I got some fuel in me I was good to go, but it was alot tougher of a trip than we wanted for day 2 in the smoke. The boulder bowl of hell was a real mental test. We both took different routes, I managed to find a snowpack and carried a chunk of snow over to where Katie's route would take her. I gave her a surprise of handing the snowball so she could use it to cool herself off. It was a much needed mental boost.
After we got out of the bowl we just kept trucking along and finally reached the CRV. We still had the huge drive home so we didn't waste any time and off we went. We managed to find a beauty little swimming spot at the dam to have a beer and clean up. The trip had its ups and downs but in the end we made the right decision to head North to sneak these peaks in while everywhere else was extreme levels of smoke back in town.