NTS Map:92F12. This is a demanding ridge walk varying from 1400 metres to 1800 metres. There are lots of ascents and descents so be prepared physically. The trip was a 5 to 7-day hike. From Arnica Lake to the end of Phillips Ridge there is a good supply of water. There are lots of way markers in the form of cairns.
After Phillips Ridge you move towards Greig Ridge and there is less water but snow fields are available for melted water. There are fewer way markers through to Marble Meadows--a bit of route finding required.
There is some exposure in parts and be prepared for steep sections. One section north of Tibetan Mt. (local name) has a 3 metre vertical rock face to climb which gave us a bit of a scare as it is somewhat exposed. There are handholds so we were able to do it. We had to rope packs up though.
Highlights include Ptarmigan and deer sightings, blue grouse, flowers like crazy and (luckily) a beautiful vista as far as the eye could see. A spectacular set piece along most of the trip is the view of the Golden Hinde, the highest mountain on Vancouver Island.
Another great area is Limestone Cap--a limestone outcrop (mountain) flat on the top and totally full of fossils!! From there it was a day's hike to Marble Meadows. From there we descended to Phillips Creek at Buttle Lake, 1300 metres, where we had a canoe stashed away to cross the lake to our car the next day. A great trip, and we will never forget it. But please remember a few things:
Be in shape. Be ready for bad weather. Carry some form of communication. We did and we needed it. Make sure it has the Gold River RCMP frequency and others like Forestry and Coast Guard would help too.
GPS was very useful in checking our position and in helping with our rescue of an injured hiker.
From Nanaimo drive north to Campbell River and follow the highway to Gold River. Follow the road down the east side of Buttle Lake to Auger Point where you bring a spare canoe across the lake to the outlet of Phillips Creek. You will use this to get back at the end of your trip. Remember that winds pick up at noon on the lake so go early. After the canoe is looked after continue driving south to the end of Buttle Lake and through the Westmin Mines site. At the far end you will see a parking lot and the start to the Arnica Lake Trail.
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Posted By: paula
- Mon Mar 02 08:55:21 UTC 2009
UpsideI just hiked through Marble Meadows as far as the col east of Morrison Spire, but this was certainly my most scenic hike ever. DownsideThe 1300 m ascent certainly sorts out the wheat from the chaff... Also, a caution: most people doing the return trip through Marble Meadows canoe across Buttle Lake in the calm of morning on the way in, but then hit the daily outflow breezes when they return, and the lake crossing can be hairy. I recommend having enough leeway to spend a night at the foot of the trail if needed rather than risk a dangerous crossing, unless you're confident in your skills. Some people use rowboats instead of canoes for that reason. Also: Strathcona Park is large enough to make its own weather systems. Keep an eye out, be prepared for sudden storms and for changes of plans. We actually spent a very pleasant afternoon waiting out a rainstorm in Wheaton hut, reading the log books with everyone's hiking and climbing adventures. CommentIt's hard for people from down-island to fathom how late the snow can stay up there... I hiked Marble Meadows in late August of 2007, a big snow-year, and we had to do some route-finding to skirt the snow (and avoid the possibility of dangerous snow-bridges...) This makes for slow going, as Elly noted above. Most of the designated camping areas were still under snow (but oh, the wildflowers! drifts of anemones right down to the ice...) The Strathcona Park website has a trail report that gets updated every week or two in summer (look for a link in the text of the home page). It gives, among other things, the current altitude of the snow line in each area.
Posted By: Elly
- Tue Jul 18 04:15:46 UTC 2006
UpsideFantastic views once up on the Meadows. It was nice and quiet (we went up on a Friday). The further through the Meadows you go, the less people there are. Not many flowers, but not many bugs either. :) DownsideLots of snow made trail difficult to find. Very hot, with limited shelter and lots of glaring snow. Bit of a slog. CommentOur plan was to travel from Buttle Lake up to the Limestone Cap, but unfortunately we hadn't anticipated the snow, which slowed us down considerably. The lakes were still mostly frozen over and the trail difficult to find at times (on several occasions we made our own).