Crown Mountain

Last week I had the opportunity to hike Crown Mountain with my friends Sarah and Patrick. Crown Mountain is situated in North of Vancouver (behind Grouse Mountain). There are sites, including this one, that talk about how to hike Crown Mountain and possible routes so I’ll save you all the details on how to get there. We decided to take the BCMC trail route near the beginning of the Grouse Grind as it was probably the most convenient and easiest of the alternatives. It was a pretty hot and scorching day so that made the hike a bit more difficult and unbearable sometimes in the heat. Nevertheless, the hike was well worth the effort. The views from the top were simply amazing! We were on top for probably an hour, admiring the breathtaking views. Going back down was just as difficult as going up. Some parts were super steep and rocky. I’m not sure if I would do this hike again but at least it’s off my bucket list! Everytime I’m driving and I look up to the North Shore mountains, I can proudly say that I’ve hiked Crown Mountain!

 

 

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Juan De Fuca Camping Trip

I just got back from a 2 night, 3 day hike on the Juan De Fuca Marine Trail with my friend YJ. I hiked this trail back in 2010 where I did it in 1 night, 2 days. Yes, I was crazy back then. You can see the post here. This time around, I wanted to take it slow and easy. YJ had never done a trip like this before. He said the last time he did some serious hiking was when he was in the military 16 years ago in Taiwan. Well, I can honestly say that he made it through and did a very good job! To view all the pictures click HERE.
You can also view YJ’s blog at winnieandyj.blogspot.ca and see his side of the story for this trip (Search for Juan de Fuca).  It’s pretty entertaining!

Day 1 – China Beach to Bear Beach

After a hefty lunch at Yoshi Sushi (our last civilized meal), we drove and parked at the day use trail head at China Beach. It was raining when we got there so that didn’t bode well to our start of the hike. We hiked from China beach trailhead to Bear beach (9km) and took us about 3 hours. We managed to pass by a big group of noisy school kids along the trail and lucked out on a camp spot at Bear Beach. We were kind of glad there was no room for those teenagers at Bear beach or else it would’ve been a loud massive party. For the first night’s dinner we had Katmandu Curry Rice MEC package meal and Sidekicks pasta. It was really delicious. We wanted to finish it off with some hot chai tea but there was one problem – we ran out of propane! Luckily I had a spare tank (which was not even half full) but we had two more days left of the hike and we needed to save it just in case. So we didn’t have tea that night. Nor did we make a fire due to the rain and lack of firewood. So we decided to head back into the tent and talk for about 2 hours. We chatted about everything under the sun. We chatted about our work (we used to be co-workers), about life, and about people who have bad breath. We both noticed this certain co-worker who had stinky breath all the time. I thought I was the only one that noticed but apparently other people have to. I think for those who haven’t noticed the bad breath, they didn’t take a big enough whiff. This became our topic of conversation that night and also for the next few days actually. It was quite hilarious.


Us at one of the suspension bridges


Kevin pondering


YJ the animal!

Day 2 – Bear Beach to Sombrio Beach

Today was the big day. On the trail map it has it listed as the most difficult section of the trail. The total distance from Bear to Sombrio is 18km. It took us over 9 hours including breaks and lunch. I think the most difficult part of the section is the last kilometre into Sombrio Beach. It looks very deceiving when you get to Sombrio point and you can see the campsite off at a distance. What they don’t tell you on the map is that you have to hike through endless amounts of treacherous mud to get to the camp spot. It took us about an hour to hike through the last 1km! I remember a few years ago when I hiked this – I almost died…literally. This time around I was bit more prepared as I knew what to expect but it was still long and gruesome.

We wanted to have an epic meal that night but due to the fact that I only had less than half a tank of gas, we decided to have two MEC meals and no Sidekicks as it would take longer to cook. We did manage to have hot tea that night and a fire. It was tough to get firewood but we managed to collect a few from the beach. We saw one family that had a huge stack of fire wood about 10 feet high.  They were a bunch of hoarders! Were they camping for the whole week? YJ and I also noticed that the people around our camp spot were not hikers but more “car campers”. They all brought stuff from their cars, like their coolers, bbq set, camping chairs, wheel barrel, etc. There was one couple that we saw that had a whole whack of beer cans scattered around their tent. It was pretty interesting to see.


Near Sombrio Beach


View from the suspension bridge


YJ (aka Lebron James) and me


Our camping spot

Day 3 – Sombrio Beach to Botanical Beach and to Victoria

We woke up to a wet morning. It was a good thing we had the tarp on top of our tent or else we would’ve been soaked. We decided to finish the trail and not stay another day. We were low on fuel and didn’t want to stay in the wet weather. We started our day at 7am and arrived at Botanical Beach at around 4pm. The total distance from Sombrio to Botanical is about 20 km. During the hike I started noticing some “birth” pains. You see, I had not gone to the washroom in 4 days. Yup, that’s right, 4 days. I was still holding on to the massive amounts of sushi I had a few days ago. Usually YJ and I would chat when we hike but when I started noticing my abdominal pains I became quiet for about 30 minutes. All this time I was thinking how am I going to get the “dragon” out when there’s no place to go. The trail was long and there seemed to be no space available. Then luckily we stumbled upon a resting area and there was an outhouse! Booyah! I held my breath and the rest is history!

When we got to Botanical, we had to figure out how to get to Port Renfrew and back home. We had booked the West Coast Trail Shuttle bus for the next day, not knowing that we finished the trail a day earlier. As we didn’t run the risk of the bus being full, we decided to try our chances and hitchhike. We were lucky to bump into a couple near the trail head who drove us back to China Beach! It took 3 days to hike the JDF trail but only 45 minutes to drive back. Crazy. We finished the day with our victory meal at 17 mile pub with burgers, wings, and beer.


First “Buddha” pic with YJ – Taken at start of Juan de Fuca Marine Trail


Victory meal – YJ enjoying his wings!

The Lions

The Lions, or the twin sisters, is a popular day hike in Vancouver. It is located near Lions Bay, about a 40-45 minute drive from Vancouver. The views from the top are simply breath-taking and out of this world. Pictures definitely do not do justice. The peak offers amazing panoramic views of Capilano lake, Howe Sound, and the city of Vancouver.

We left our apartment at around 7am, picked up breakfast at Tim Hortons and were on our way to the trailhead. For directions of the hike, see below this blog. We arrived a bit late to get a parking spot at the trailhead so we had to settle for the elementary school parking lot which was 1 km (or 15 min. walk) away from the trailhead. The trail starts on a logging road and then goes steadily up for about 35-40 minutes until you see a “cute” sign to turn right. After this, you will go through some flat areas and even pass a water fall on your left. After a slight incline you will see another sign to turn right where you will be a short decent to the bridge at Harvey Creek. Coming here will take you about 1.5 hours or so.

After the bridge, the bulk of the elevation is ahead of you and this is where the strenuous climb begins for about 2.5 to 3 hours. There are several viewpoints along the way overlooking Howe Sound and Lions Bay. The trail is well-marked by orange or pink ribbons so it’s hard to get lost. However, if you are not sure where to go, just stay to the right of the trail and you’ll be fine. Around the 3 hour mark or so, you will come across a nice little area where there is a beautiful view of the mountains and your first glimpse of the Lions. We stopped here for a necessary break.

After the break, we came across a huge section of snow that we had to hike through. This was a tough section. Hiking in the snow is definitely tiring, especially when you are going uphill! The good thing about hiking in the snow is that when it gets hot you can just lie down and let the snow cool you off!

We reached the base of the Lions in about 4 hours and 45 minutes and to reach the view top of the West Lion it took us an additional 45 minutes. In total, it took us about 5.5 hours in total to reach the summit of the West Lions from the parking lot including breaks. We could have done this hike a lot faster if it weren’t for my friend Johnson who slowed us down.

The views from the top are simply breath-taking. We were on the top for about an hour enjoying our lunch and taking crazy pictures. The hike down took us about the same time, 5.5 hours back to the parking lot.

As for our traditional epic meal, we decided to go to Fatburger on Denman. I had the double fat burger which is basically two big fat juicy patties and double cheese. I didn’t order any additional toppings but I kinda wish I need. There’s always next time! That burger definitely hit the spot and I would definitely recommend it.

Click HERE to view all pictures of The Lions


Incredible views!


The uphill section of the snow


The Lions or Twin Sisters


View from the top – You can see Capilano Lake and city of Vancouver out in the distance


On top of the world – The peak of the West Lion


Reflection – Overlooking Howe Sound


View for the top


The East Lion


Enchantment Lake – the other side of The Lions


Unnessessary Mountain and Howe sound


Howe Sound overlooking Bowen Island


Three buddha’s and a lion!

Notable facts

Distance: About 15Km
Elevation: 1646 m (West Lion), 1606 m (East Lion)
Time to hike: About 7-9 hours
Rating: Intermediate to difficult (in some snow and steep rocky areas)

Directions to the Lions
From Vancouver, drive north to Lions Bay on Hwy 99 (the highway heading to Whistler). You will take the Lions Bay exit. I’m not sure what exit number it is but there should be signs telling you to exit at Lions Bay. We missed this exit and had to drive back! Please note that other blogs and trail posts tell you to turn right on Oceanview Road. However, there will not be signs from the highway to turn right on Oceanview Road! Also, you don’t really turn right on Oceanview Road. Once you exit into Lions Bay, the road will automatically will turn into Lions Bay Ave (slight right). At the intersection, turn left on Cross Creek Road. Do not turn right on Oceanview Road! Follow Cross Creek for a bit and then turn right on Centre Road. Go left on Bayview and drive for a few km and then left on Mountain Drive. Once you reach Sunset Drive, turn left and you will see the parking lot for the trailhead. This parking lots gets full fast so my advice is to head very early in the morning to get a spot. We had to park 1km down at the Lions Bay Elementary School on Bayview Road. It’s not much of a walk but after a long day of hiking, the last thing you want to do is hike back in the hot pavement back to your car!

Mt. Albert Edward (incomplete)

Our next destination Chris and I had planned was to hike to Mt. Albert Edward, 2093m (you can read about our Bedwell Lake trip here, which was our first of two destinations during the Canada Day long weekend). To get to Mt. Albert Edward, you basically drive to Mt. Washington and park at Raven Lodge and the trail starts at Paradise Meadows (signs are clearly marked on how to get there). Now we had read trail reports that the snow even began at the parking lot! We had to get an early start to get here since we were still at Baby Bedwell Lake. We didn’t arrive at the trail head until around 2:30pm (about a 2 hour drive from Baby Bedwell trailhead).

There were some people that we met at the trailhead that asked us where we were heading. We told him we were planning to camp at Circlet Lake. Most people had a puzzled look on their faces when they heard this since we started late in the day and there was still lots of snow on the ground and we might not make it in time for camp (it is about a 10.5km hike from the trailhead). Being the ambitious type that we are, we decided to go there anyways. The hike to Circlet Lake proved to be really challenging. I think without the snow we would’ve made it in 2.5 hours. But with the snow, it made the hike much more difficult!

It took us 4 hours to hike from the parking lot at Paradise Meadows to Circlet Lake. We arrived at our “campspot” around 6:30pm. We couldn’t find any platforms so we made our own campspot and found a flat area to lay our tent. We also didn’t see any bear caches since the snow was so deep so we ended up making our own bear cache. We were also the only ones at the campspot!

Then next morning we contemplated whether we had enough energy and stamina to hike all the way to the summit of Mt. Albert Edward. On a clear trail, it would take about 3 hours one way. After an hour of what seemed like an eternity, we made it up the ridge where we could oversee Moat Lake, Castlecrag Mtn, and Mt. Fink. Breathtaking views! We decided not to summit Mt. Albert Edward as it would be too torturous for us to do in the little time that we had. We instead had a peaceful lunch at the ridge overlooking Stratchcona Park and took our time taking pictures. We then proceeded down the steep hill and even sliding down in some areas! That was really fun and even cut down on a lot of time hiking down.

We had our traditional burger meal on the way back. We stopped at Mrs. Riches in Nanaimo where I ordered the popular Much-room burger. It was so good! The summit to Mt. Albert Edward will have to wait until another time.


Welcome to the outhouse


Our sophisticated bear cache


The view of Circlet Lake from our campspot


Chris and I at the viewpoint overlooking Mt. Fink


Castlecrag Mtn. in the background


Birds-eye view of Circlet Lake

To view all photos of Mt. Albert Edward, click HERE

Bedwell Lake/Cream Lake (Incomplete)

During the Canada Day long weekend, Chris and I decided to go to Strathcona Provincial Park to do some hiking and camping. We decided to do two trips in one as we thought we could conquer two places in one long weekend (read about the other trip to Mt. Albert Edward here). We had seen pictures of Cream Lake a few years back and it had always been our dream to see it. However,  we had a bit of a problem. We read the trail reports and it said there was snow about 1 hour in from the trailhead at Bedwell Lake. Who would have thought there would still be snow in July! We brought our snow shoes along and it saved our lives throughout the trip. We left Victoria around 6pm and arrived at Buttle Lake campground around 10pm, about a 4 hour drive including stopping for gas. When we arrived at Buttle Lake campground, there was a sign that said it was full! We checked the reservations board and sure enough all the sites were reserved. However, there was one spot that was left blank (spot #86). When we looked at the campground map, I couldn’t see a #86. Anyways, we decided to try our luck at another campspot next to Buttle, even though it said it was “reservations only” for groups. I think God was watching over us that night because as we pulled into the other campsite, a ranger driving in her truck was coming from the other direction and had spotted us coming in. She said we weren’t allowed to camp here and to go a half hour away to Ralph River to camp. It was about 10pm and was getting dark. We asked if there were anymore spots at Buttle and she said yes! It was spot #86! We told the lady there wasn’t a #86 on the legend map but she confirmed there was and it was the only spot left. At this point in the night, I didn’t care what kind of spot it was. I jokingly said to Chris that it’s probably way at the end next to a stinky outhouse. We followed the ranger lady to the camp spot and sure enough, there was a #86 and it was right next to a stinky outhouse!

The next day woke up early and drove to the Bedwell Lake trailhead. To get there, you basically follow Hwy 28 all the way down to Buttle Lake until you cross Thelwood Bridge. As soon as you cross Thelwood Bridge, you turn left and there is a 6.5 Km gravel road which takes you to the trail head. It took us about less than 20 min. to drive the gravel road as it is a steady uphill. Our goal was to make it to Bedwell Lake to camp. However, due to the snowy conditions, we only made it to Baby Bedwell Lake which was about a 5km hike from the parking lot. That took us about 3 hours. The reason it took so long was that the snow made it difficult to hike and to find the correct route. Hiking in snowshoes proved to be a challenge when hiking for long durations (especially uphill).

After a well deserved lunch, we decided to make camp at Baby Bedwell Lake and walk a bit further without our packs to see how far we could get. We had a bit of a scuffle trying to find the the route out of camp! We tried about 3 different ways but managed to find the correct route…about an hour later! We only got as far as the lookout point to Baby Bedwell Lake and even stopping here was a sign of victory. We made our way back to camp and had our “dinner of champions” – MEC beef stroganoff and Teriyaki noodles Sidekicks. It was a well deserved dinner after a long day of hiking. That night was my first night camping in the snow.


You can see the campspot was full and there was no #86 but we managed to find a camping spot!


Campspot #86 – Buttle Lake Campground – early in the morning


A trail map covered with snow


Chris surrounded with a plethora of snow


At the Bedwell Lake lookout point


Chris next to a big block of snow along the trail


Our campspot at Baby Bedwell Lake


Relaxing, enjoying a cup of tea after a well deserved dinner

To view all photos of Bedwell Lake, click HERE

Juan De Fuca Marine Trail

Our Juan De Fuca hike was a success! We managed to hike the whole 47 Km trail from China beach to Botanical Beach in two days.We parked Chris’s car at the Botanical Beach Trailhead parking lot and we had Chris’s friend drive us back to the start of the trail at China Beach. We had to pay $20 for two days of camping (including parking) for each person. Little did we know that we had to pay an additional $8 each once we arrived at China Beach. Chris and I contemplated to hike 2 Km to Mystic beach as that was the official start of the Juan De Fuca trail to avoid the fee but it was around 8pm and didn’t want to walk in the dark. So word of advice: If you plan to do the Juan De Fuca hike, camp at Mystic Beach and not China and save yourself $8!

For a map of the Juan De Fuca trail, click HERE.

For all pictures, click HERE.

Day 1 – We hiked a total of about 29 Km from China Beach to Sombrio Beach (East) campsite. That took us about 10 hours including all the breaks. The section from Bear Beach to Chin Beach proved to be most difficult. When it says ‘Most Difficult’ on the map, they really mean it!  It had about 4 major uphills that was almost unbearable. The rest of the time it was up and down but manageable. Some parts were pretty muddy but I had my trusty walking stick to help me out. The map that we had said it was 27 Km to Sombio Beach East. So when we saw the 27 Km marking sign we were overjoyed. However, after a few minutes we soon found out that we had to hike an additional Km! The last Km to the campsite was the hardest part. I was out of energy. I was thirsty. I was hungry for some chicken teriyaki and thai curry! Chris and I managed to stumble on the beach totally exhausted. We were so tired that we didn’t even want to look around for firewood.


Climbing down the ladder


Chris taking a break from the hike


Making a well deserved dinner

Day 2 – We hiked a total of 18 Km from Sombrio Beach to Botanical Beach Trailhead. I think we hiked an additional 2 Km due to the many detours we took. At one point, we were walking climbing the rocks along the beach and thought to ourselves ” This cannot be the trail…the two girls that passed us would not have survived this”. We traced back our steps and eventually found the turn-off point! We hiked about 9 hours in total that day. Unlike the sunny weather we had the first day, day two proved to be wetter and much windier. It had rained a bit overnight but that was good for us to get fresh water from the many creeks we passed. The trail from Sombrio to Botancial was a bit easier than Day one. There were more board walks and the trails were much flatter. We saw a black bear and its cub on the beach several hundred yards away from us! Altogether we had about five bear sitings but most of them were on the road driving. We ended the exhausted and tiring day by eating a well-deserved burger at 17-mile pub around 10pm.


Walking through the slippery rocks


Walking along a misty Sombrio Beach


We made it! At the 47 Km mark.

Mount Wells

I haven’t seen my friend Gary since he left for his tour to SE Asia earlier this year. He drove all the way from Duncan to see me (about 50 min drive). It was great hearing about all his adventures and stories. We decided to hike up Mt. Wells near Langford. It’s a short hike, about 1.3Km to the top (353m) but steep and challenging. Time really flew by on the trail as we both reminisced about our times we were in SE Asia. It was very windy at the top. How windy? So windy that my hat flew off and I had to go running down the hill to get it! Then my camera bag got blown away as well and I had to retrieve that. For a cloudy day, the views at the top were pretty good. We could see Langford Lake and Mt. Finlayson in the background.

After the hike we decided to get some lunch at the Noodle Box, a SE Asian Noodle bar. Gary had never been there before. I told him to order “Suicide” as he likes spicy foods. He decided to get the Medium flavour instead. It was a good choice since his whole face turned red by the end. I think his face would’ve exploded if he ordered Suicide!


Humpback Reservoir in the distance


Gary glancing at Langford Lake


It was very windy when we took this picture!


At the top of Mt Wells