A Trip Report
On June 1st, Teslin and I made Kings Peak our goal. It was the perfect day for the hike. The sky was clear and blue, the temperature stayed moderate and true to Vancouver Island in June.
If my lack of actual writing, photo editing and general creation of this website is any indication, I’ve been extremely busy. Almost two months later and this trip report is rather fuzzy. But the important bits have been noted, and I hope that if you are reading this in hopes of attempting Kings, that no matter when you do it, you will go back again in May/June.
Happy Birthday Teslin! What a better way to spend a birthday, then a moderate 10 hr hike up such a prestigious mountain, with panoramic views of almost all the major peaks on our island home!
After a day spent climbing at Crest Crags, we drove out to the trailhead to spend the night. In order to cut back on hiking time (about half an hour), we parked higher up on an old road that cuts through the trail. 4×4 and/or high clearance is needed to get through this road. Initially waking up at 6am, we favoured a better sleep-in and stayed cozy in the truck bed until 7am when we finally made tea, attempted a light breakfast and hit the trail.
For once, I decided to lead the charge and with my trail runners, found myself going way to quick up the easy switchbacks that make up the first couple of kilometres. We slowed down a little and chose instead to take our time and enjoy the hike. This trail has been very well maintained and offers its users quite a view of the surrounding hills and forests. Keep an eye on the forest! These trees are huge!
Once we broke out into the meadow (a few hours), we hit some snow and I opted to trade my trail runners for my North Face boots (very comfy– but not great hiking attire). At the end of the meadow we decided to take a short break and sit on some large rocks, admiring the rock faces that rose above us.
The route we chose to go up was through the North West gully. It went steep, so the use of an ice axe was needed, but the snow was excellent quality and we didn’t need the crampons. It took a little while to get up here as I am still lacking in the cardio department and I was rather enjoying the steep climb up the gully. It was a little unnerving at times when it narrowed and the bergschrunds (for lack of a better term) appeared on either side. The waterfall that takes over the gully in the summer could be heard under the snow and peering over the edges gave me a little sense of vertigo. Keep away these areas!
At the beginning of the glacier, we sat down for another quick rest to munch on trail mix and enjoy the view, with the sun rising above the rock behind us and warming our backs.
Not far past Teslin in that photo is the top of the glacier. Reaching that point took my breath away, as Elkhorn rose dramatically in front of us and the entire Elk Valley could be seen. Elkhorn is a sexy mountain, we both agreed. I knew at that point that I would be climbing that summit soon.
We made the summit in good time and relaxed for over an hour. It was warm, light breeze, and we could see exceptionally far. The best summit day that I have had to date (even including now). Pointing out all the peaks that I want to climb was fun. I’d never see Elkhorn, Foster, Rambler, Golden Hinde or Victoria in person before, and I was happy to be able to identify all of them so easily.
For the descent, we chose to take the hiker’s route as I didn’t really want to descend the gully and felt it would be a worthwhile experience to take the full route. We lost the trail multiple times and it took us longer then it likely should have to reach the meadow again. Random, deep patches of snow as we hiked along the ridge made it difficult to find the proper way down, although we certainly found other areas! It was reaching 2pm for our descent and the day was starting to get hot. I got a little nervous at one point when we got lost and the heat started to rise. In my usual clumsy fashion, I’d smashed my head rather good with the pick on my ice axe and caused some minor bleeding and dizziness. Some sniffs of my essential oil blend and locating the trail again dispelled my uneasiness immediately and we found our way back to the meadow with relative ease.
We took another quick break in the meadow again, hiding in the shadow of a large rock and munching on the remnant’s of my trail mix (since Teslin had forgotten his lunch!). Good thing I’m always over prepared! Truck back to truck was 10.5 hours, including our multitude of breaks and hour at the summit. Easily doable in far, far less. I cannot wait to see what this place looks like in the middle of winter!