A view of the mountains as you look out from the view point
Early fall is often the nicest time for hiking. I often joke with my hiking companions about those who don't take advantage of the outdoors, they find winter too cold, spring too wet, and summer too hot. There are three ideal weeks in our Vancouver Island year that are perfect for heading outdoors, when spring is converting to summer and summer converting to fall, there are about 9 days at each change that are perfect for hiking! This past weekend must have been that weekend!
Total Horizontal Distance: 21.3 km
Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes
Elevation Gain: 873 m
Starting Elevation: 1060 m
Max Elevation: 1269 m
We had a large group of hikers hit the trail on Saturday, September 20th. We started our hike departing from Chapters at 730. Accessing many locations within Strathcona Park is often possible from a variety of different start points. For this weekends hike we started from Raven Lodge, Mt. Washington's Nordic ski lodge.
We hiked south along the rolling path on the west side of Battleship lake, passing between Kooso Lake and Battleship and rounded Lady Lake on its south edge, before turning west. We passed many other lakes and tarns, each providing their own magical view of the surrounding landscape. As we hiked, we passed several small groups of hikers, many of whom were walking with big backpacks but plenty with simple day packs.
There are many twists and turn in the route to the Cruikshank Canyon view point. Although there are many signs throughout the park to direct hikers, it is extremely important to carry a map with you as the signage is sometimes confusing. Our route passed many small lakes but none of them as beautiful as Kwaii Lake. The location is beautiful and features amenities like bear cache and toilet. I am putting this on my list for a future camping trip with Hemingway. The only drawback is that there is no swimming in Kwaii Lake.
Once at the Cruikshank Canyon lookout we ate our lunch and took the time to enjoy the view of the canyon floor several hundred meters below. The canyon looks out across to Castle Craig and the a ridge that leads up to it. The problem with hiking on beautiful sunny fall days in Strathcona Park is that you will probably leave with more goals added to your list than checked off. Oh the curse of Vancouver Island hiker!
After lunch we backtracked on our route slightly but diverted more north to eventually walk along the west side of Kwaii lake, amble pas the old Forbidden Plateau Range Station to the west and north side of Lake Helen Mackenzie. At Helen Mackenzie we were greeted by more than a dozen people, many of them children and most of them hopping in and out of the water.
Most of us hopped into the water. To be sure the water was, "as cold as ice, IT WAS AS COLD AS ICE". A little girl was sure to let everyone know as she yelled this over and over again to her friends and family. It was very refreshing, the water, not the screaming, and not at all as cold as ice, though it was definitely cold.
Cold as ice?
After the swim we were quick on the trail, passing several dozen people travelling every-which-way and made it back to the cars at Raven Lodge by four thirty. We were tired but happy! All thirteen hikers safe and sound.