Great days don't always finish the way they are planned. Sunday November 9th, I met some new hiking friends at Chapters at 6:30am. Our plan was to do the Beaufort Lake Loop, approaching the range from the Port Alberni side. As you can discern from the title ... we didn't quite make it.
After meeting Phil and Caleb we piled into Phil's Jeep and traveled north toward our destination. The major portion of the day's adventure was spent in the vehicle, seeking the start of our adventure. To make a long (3 hour car ride) short, we discovered that the logging road we needed to drive up had a new gate in front of it. Though not possible to know when it was installed, we could see that there was recent logging behind it and some rerouting of the roads and the gates were not noted in our back roads map-book/GPS. Non of us relished the thought of walking 10 km of logging road in addition to our intended route.
It was disappointing to be denied access for the hike but we made a decision to look for adventure elsewhere. After checking the book and a short discussion, we decided that we would head toward Mt.Apps Trail. Non of the group had done it before, so the day would not be a loss. However upon attempting to drive to the start of the trail, we encountered yet another gate. As we parked to inspect the lock, a forestry contract worker arrived and told us that he wouldn't give us access. He was there to service some of the machines, obviously there is logging activity happening up the road.
Total Horizontal Distance: 9.4 km
Starting Elevation: 923 m
Maximum Elevation: 1610 m
Total elevation Gain: 870 m
Total Time: 4 hours 40 min
Time was creeping on, we were all pretty bummed out, it shouldn't be this challenging to find a place to hike. I just wanted to get out and enjoy the last of the alpine before the snow hits, it didn't much matter to me where we went. Phil suggested Moriarty, I just climbed it in September, little more than a month earlier but Caleb, had never done it. We hightailed it back along Beaver Creek Road and through Port Alberni. We were positive that we would not be denied access to this hike.
We arrived at the Labour Day Lake Parking lot ( 923 metres) at and we were walking the logging road on the north west side of the lake by 10 o'clock. The three of us are quite fit so we made short work of the first hill. We reached the top of the hill (1350m) , just below the final long ridge at 10:50. As we climbed the hill the weather varied. Though we were protected in the trees, we could feel the temperature shift, the sun come and go, and in many places witness sun dogs burning through the low altitude up-slope fog, that consumed the trees at times.
Once we arrived at the saddle between the main ridge and the lookout bump to the southeast of our destination, cloud rolled in, then out, then back in again. Our visibility diminished, and the view of the distant hills was obscured. We made our way to the lookout, hoping that the cloud would blow by. It didn't, however, the movement of the cloud made for a unique type of experience.
Watching the wind move, this is what fog permits. It wound its way around the trees and over the landscape. Once on the bump, the conditions were not improved, the view consisted of: clouds blowing by. But look at the amazing photo! The depth of the grays! OH MY! So dynamic. It will make an excellent addition to my collection of Vancouver Island's most magnificent views.
We carried on, without further delay, We climbed the final hill to the long ridge that runs north-west, trundling along at an enjoyable pace. The closer we moved to our destination, the colder the air became. The benefit, the visibility improved, we could see where we were going, though still not the distant hills. As we rounded the final corner the wind was whipping through us, about 20 knots. The hemlock present right by the summit were encrusted with ice.... on just one side. The moisture blowing past was freezing on one side of the tree.
Frost Forming on the Hemlock
We reached the summit (1610 m ) just after noon. We signed the register, took our photos and then tucked in low and enjoyed our lunch. We talked of our individual past adventures and as we sat, watched the landscape, the clouds breaking and resettling, over and over. A few of us captured a few landscape shots, I wasn't as attentive or lucky.
Caleb about to Summit
During our descent the sun broke through the clouds. We revisited the south east bump, this time we could see the distant south and west. WE had our fill of the views and then descended to the car.
We all arrived safely back at the car at 2:40. Although I have recently done this hike, I still enjoyed being up there.