ON THE BEATEN PATH – by JILL COLLINS
Looking back at thousands of photos we have taken over the summer and fall, it is hard to decide what adventure to write about. My family and I are so grateful to be able to adventure as often as we do and the past six months have been busy, to say the least. We backpacked into the wild spaces of Vancouver Island, kayaked around an island, explored new climbing crags and bike-packed across two islands. Our adventures took us off island this summer. Shhh…don’t tell anyone. Keeping a low profile we hiked the Kettle Valley Trail, canoed on the Columbia River, and hiked to our first backcountry hut in Bugaboo Provincial Park in the Purcell Mountain range of southeast B.C.
I finally narrowed down my choice, or rather three choices, to write about. Summits. There is something special about adding four rocks to a cairn marking a mountain summit as a family. Vancouver Island may not have the highest peaks when compared to the Rockies or Purcells of B.C. but the elevation gained while hiking is comparable. Difference being, our hikes start at sea level.
The three Vancouver Island mountain summits Joel, Ben, Liv and I reached this summer were all very comparable in terrain, time, distance and elevation gained while hiking. Each hike averaged about six hours and included plenty of time for snacking, admiring plants or views, photographing anything and everything, and partaking in some sort of wandering like exploration.
Mt. Benson: 1023m 3.5km to summit 719m elevation. Mt. Benson dominates the skyline west of Nanaimo, B.C and beckons all outdoor enthusiasts to come on up. This summer marked our third attempt to summit Mt. Benson and we all were pretty happy to cross it off our list, finally! Well known for the mountain biking and hiking trails, Mt. Benson also has several climbing crags and is training ground for die hard runners. I hear one can run up to the summit from Witchcraft Lake in 25 minutes. Kudos to whoever that is!
Mt. Horne: 910m 5km to summit 750m elevation. Located near Cameron Lake and accessed from Cathedral Grove near McMillan Park. Mt. Horne is overlooked by locals and tourists enroute to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Hard to pass up 360 degree views of the Alberni Valley, Cameron Valley, Wesley Ridge, Cameron Lake, Georgia Strait, and Mt. Arrowsmith … you get the idea. Best part of this hike was the final ascent to the top, climbing up and over large boulders. Made us feel like real mountaineers.
Mt. Moriarty: 1603m 4.5km to summit 700m elevation gain. The first part of this hike is full of switchbacks, typical Vancouver Island forests, and steep. Thankfully, once you hike up this section, the rest of the hike to the summit is along the ridge. I would consider it one of the most beautiful alpine hikes in the area. Alpine to summit offers views of steep bluffs, rocky terrain, and plenty of alpine plants to ohh and ahh over. From the top Mt. Arrowsmith can be seen and once again it is calling our name. Next time!
Years of adventuring has taught me that setting out to accomplish great outdoor feats is rewarding not only to Joel and I, but to Ben and Liv as well. These two young adventurers experience the same satisfaction as we do. There, at the summit, waiting for us are valuable lessons in determination, goal setting, personal achievement, and self-confidence. Yes, there definitely something special about adding four rocks to a cairn marking a mountain summit as a family.
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