Total distance: 6.2 km
Highest Elevation: 1368 m
Total Time: 5 hours
What a weekend! Two days filled with activities including the Mt De Cosmos hike! I know most people may not be excited to climb a sub alpine hill but for me this was an adventure into a new area, my backyard.... kinda.
This weekend was not only my first trip up Mount De Cosmos but also my first attempt up one of the many of mountains in the Nanaimo Lakes area. Further, this was the Island Mountain Ramblers first time in a decade having this trip on its schedule. This may seem odd because this area is right behind Nanaimo, essentially my backyard, and accessible by car in only 20 minutes. However, there is one major obstacle, well several actually; forestry gates! Because I don't have a quad or a motorcycle. gaining access to the back roads in the Nanaimo Lakes area becomes problematic because the local forestry company keeps the gates locked. That wasn't an issue for this trip because the route did not require us to go beyond the second gate. The first is almost always open.
We met at 700 am and by 730 four hikers arrived at are starting location. To drive to the starting location it is best that you have a vehicle with good clearance and an all-wheel drive and preferably a four-by-four. Although I have managed to drive my Subaru Outback to the top of the road, I definitely felt the terrible scraping of my trailer hitch in the dirt road more than a couple of times as I navigated around the smallish washouts.
Kim and me, overlooking Second Lake; Hemingway is sill inside
The parking spot brought us to about 460 metres and after our nearly ritualistic preparations of gators, bags and gear we set out up the hill, which starts immediately after leaving the car and continues. Boy does it continue! It continues up up and away, without relent until we reached the col between the the summit and the secondary peak, at 1265 m. A short trip, only about two kilometers horizontally but an elevation gain of 805 metres, nearly 43% grade!
43% Grade up Mt. De Cosmos
The trip up the hill wasn't without its charms. Although a lot of the land behind Nanaimo has been harvested and re-harvested this particular area is filled with first growth trees and features many old douglas fir covered with witches hair lichen. Though not the forest giants of Cathedral Grove, they are majestic in their way, stalwart against the grade they grow upon, adorned with lichen and mosses and somehow withstanding the decimation that exists on many of the hills surrounding this one. There was a lot of evidence of animal activity, whooping of the Blue Grouse's wings, deer scat, detritus left by the eating habits of squirrels and even a black bear sighting. Rod, the trip leader, let out a holler as he alerted the rest of the group to the bears presence up the hill. Fortunately, though a large bear, it had no cubs and was eager to high tail it up the hill and out of sight.
We made the secondary summit by 10 am giving us an ascent time of just over two hours and marveled at the limited views granted to us, thanks to the descending cloud cover. We could see Mt. Gemini, Green Mountain and Mount Hooker.
After a short but well deserved breather we verily sauntered down the ridge and minor elevation gain to the summit proper at 1368 metres. Unfortunately a small bit of weather dropped upon us, temperatures cooled, and a fine mist began falling. Our view from the true summit of Mt. De Cosmos were limited but we enjoyed our lunch and conversation just the same.