Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Elk Mountain

I now have three more good walks under my belt.  Can anyone tell it’s August so the weather is great and I don’t have any appointments ?!

Well the first of them is Elk Mountain.  Situated in the community of Ryder Lake, south east of Chilliwack, Elk Mountain is one of many peaks towering above the Eastern end of the Fraser Valley.

Leaving Highway 1 at Prest Rd you are instantly transported into a peaceful, rural idyll a mix of farming and small village communities.  Once a few minutes from the highway Elk View Road takes you up into the community of Ryder Lake, characterised by rolling farmland, homes on large lots and lovely mountain scenery.

These are a few of the views around the community as we drove towards the trailhead.




Here the view includes our destination, Elk Mountain which is the ‘bump’ on the left hand side of this ridge.


We eventually find what we believe to be the parking lot for the trail.  We found the route and instructions for the trailhead online but we’re a good couple of kilometres along gravel road with various ‘forks’ and opportunities to take the wrong turn and here at the trailhead absolutely no signage at all to say where we are.  Thankfully it turns out this is the right location.


The road up from the highway has already brought us to 650m elevation, but we have another 800 to go.  The trail starts as it means to go on, upwards.  Mostly through typical coastal BC forest.

After 30 minutes or so we get a clearing as we cross a logging road.

IMG_5208 We realise (on the way down) that this view is of Elk Mountain.


Futher on up we get a view South towards Cultus Lake, the location for the second of our recent walks.


More views in breaks between trees as we continue up.


Mojo catches his breath.  If he’d known it was going to be this much uphill he might not have insisted on having the stick thrown so much !


After some further uphill walking we reach a clearing very close to the peak.  Here we get astounding views of Mt Baker.


A closer view, perhaps one of the best I have had so far of this permanently snow covered volcano.


The trail really opens up as it appears out of the forest.

IMG_5196 However, a short distance on from here the trail becomes very steep, quite slippery on the loose gravel and a sheer drop to the right hand side.  While it was a relatively safe path with no real obstacles my in-built fear of heights suddenly kicked in, particularly when thinking about having to come back down the trail on the way back.  Going up wasn’t so bad as I was just looking at the path in front of me, it was as soon as I turned around and looked at the view (and sheer drop off in front of me) that I suddenly felt sick and had that dizziness that makes you think you’re going to throw yourself off the side of the mountain. 

So, I didn’t actually make it right to the peak.  Talking to other walkers when I was on my way down they say the peak is large and not sheer cliffs, but maybe I will have to experience that another day if I can pluck up the courage to do the last 5% of the trail !

I sat and had a sandwich with Mojo, enjoyed the view best I could from the trail thus far and took a couple quick snaps before scooting back down (the steepest bits on my bum so I didn’t have to see the view !).  A bit disappointing but it always leaves it open to be being able to accomplish another day.

These were the views over the Fraser Valley.


Looking down at the Chilliwack River which we will drive alongside on our 3rd recent walk.


Farms in the Chilliwack River Valley.


This is the panorama from where we terminated the walk and turned around.

Finally another view towards the US and Mt Baker as we head back.


On our way back down we saw two deer in the forest.  Didn’t manage to video them but did get a photo of one looking up at us.


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