Thursday, 6 August 2015

Woodbury to Silver Spray Traverse - Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, BC    August 1 - 4, 2015

(Day 1 - August 1 - In to Woodbury Hut)

I'd wanted two things this from this trip: a good solo objective & another trip to BC. The Woodbury to Silver Spray Traverse fit for both of those. As it is in BC within one day's driving distance. It is also a good solo trip as you get to stay in two ACC huts (so no sleeping in the tent alone which is not as much fun, especially in the rain), and its not too popular but not completely secluded. It would be challenging as the traverse route is not on a trail, but with a good description I thought it would be a good challenge for me to do it alone. I wanted to check my route finding skills outside of just going up and down a peak.

I booked both the Woodbury and Silver Spray huts on the second night so that I could pick which day I would traverse. That way I would guarantee the best weather day, but also have the option to climb Moonlight Peak the second day or traverse and get out earlier. In the end I chose to traverse the second day due to a noisy pack-rat. When it started to drizzle just after 5pm on the third day I knew I'd made the right decision based on weather as well. The traverse itself was long and hard. Route finding was easy in hindsight, but while I was there it always seemed in debate whether I would get lost or not (I never did) on a macro side. Every lake/tarn I got to was a big success as then I knew exactly where I was for at least a moment. On the micro side, it actually was always in debate whether I was contouring too high or too low (usually too low, yeah! for extra elevation gain). Almost the entire thing is over boulders/talus as well. Its very tiring to walk on that stuff for a full day.

I'd booked another night (so three in total) at the Silver Spray Hut so I could go up Mount McQuarrie and/or Sunrise Mountain. I only ended up doing the latter, but that is usually how it goes when I backpack. Big ambitions, little success. Backpacking just always seems to turn into more of a relaxing outing (obvious with limited success on the relaxing on this trip) rather than a push yourself to the limits thing. On this trip, after that traverse, I just couldn't do two mountains of walking over more boulders. I decided it was time to relax. 

On the first day I left Calgary just before 6am and started driving down highway 1 through Revelstoke, Nakusp and Kaslo to get to the park. The driving took 9 hours including the ferry (which I caught 5 minutes before it left!), a 45 minute 'lunch' break in Nakusp (who doesn't serve lunch at 11am? I 'had' to have beer and eggs Benedict for lunch, which actually was very tasty), and a gas break. This includes the 45 minute drive up the logging road to get to the low clearance trail head. That means at 2pm I was setting up chicken wire around the Rendezvous (I'd traded cars with my father for the extra clearance) and pondering my fate. After 20 minutes of fiddling around (including putting on sunscreen etc), I was ready to set off in what was surely the hottest part, of a very hot day.

 The Rendezvous all set up so that porcupines cannot eat her poor tires or break-lines, as supposedly sometimes (or is it rarely?) happens. The rest of the road is behind it there.

 Then I started down the 1.5km of road for high-clearance vehicles only. Only to be pissed off at every turn in the road. It was as smooth as the first 11.5km I drove up, except for this one ditch! They must have fixed it recently and not updated the report (figures, it doesn't get updated much). I could have driven the Rendezvous down this! Just take it at an angle or some such (?). But I didn't turn back and get the car. I wasn't doing the 20 minute set up again.

 The great part about this hike is that it is a semi-loop. You only have to hike the first 1.6km of trail (+1.5km of road for me) again until you get to this junction.

 The first ~500 meters of trail to the Woodbury hut after the junction were cleared of both underbrush and trees.

The next 1/2 of trail was only cleared of trees. It got kinda bushy.

Do you see a trail? I swear its down there somewhere.

 The trail reminded me somewhat of the trail up to Floe Lake in the Rockies. It goes through an old burn for a long while, during which  it contours around the end of ridges far above the creek. It is a lot bushier out here though.

 Again, I swear the trail is down there somewhere. As long as you could see the next few feet of it you knew you weren't lost. But at some points a the two feet of trail directly under you was all you could hope for.

 View for about an hours worth of hiking.

 Stream. It was so hot I filtered more water and ended up drinking ~6 liters in only 3.5 hours.

 After the first 1/2 of trail which contained ~50 freshly cut logs that had fallen over the trail, you get to the point where they had stopped clearing the trail of trees. I then counted ~53 tress down on the trail. Thankfully most were not lodged in such a way so that they were above the ground. Most were sitting fully on the level of the trail and were easy to walk over. Only 7 were a problem to scramble over or hike off trail to a better location and then hop over. All in all it was easy. However, when the trail report had said "approx. 100 trees down on trail" it had definitely not been an exaggeration as one person suggested to me earlier. It was pretty much spot on (50+53= 103 trees!!). Counting kept me busy instead of thinking about how hot and tired I was.

 Finally you get to some switchbacks on the final approach to the hut and get a good view of Woodbury Glacier across the valley.

 Then you get up into the sub-alpine and turn this corner...

 And get to the hut!

 Woodbury hut is an older hut. It is small and darker due to its tiny windows. It has an outer section you first go through that is used as a woodshed and isn't secured off. Then there is this inner section which is the kitchen/dinning room/living room. Upstairs there is a loft where you sleep on provided sleeping mats. All the dishes are in that white metal box to hide them from the infamous pack-rat.

 Other side of this room.

Other side of the hut. The woodshed is on the left there. The pack-rat can obviously get into there. He cannot (now) get into the main building. But he does try, very, very hard. 

I was alone in this hut from when I got there, to 2am in the morning when 3 people showed up randomly and woke me up. They had apparently gone up silver spray trail first to help someone with heat exhaustion then up the woodbury trail (what a long day!). I apologized profusely for taking over all the roof hooks to hang up every single piece of my gear (don't trust those wall hooks!), and for using most of the sleeping mats. I was lying on top of two for some reason that made sense after a bottle of wine, and had covered the ladder space up to the sleeping quarters with another one, in a mostly failed attempt to dampen the noise of the pack-rat scratching at the lower inner door. Then I'd laid out the rest around me in a strange anti-pack-rat configuration. I handed them over all the ones I was using pointlessly, and we talked a bit, then I went back to sleep.

The evening alone I'd spent eating, drinking my wine, and reading the hut logbook. It was a quite funny read, especially with all the drawings included. It was also semi-terrifying reading everyone's battles with the pack-rats. I decided quite quickly that evening I was not going to spend another night alone in the hut with the pack-rat if it really did make as much noise as everyone said. The people who had come up at 2am were only staying the one night, so I would be alone again the next night, I knew from looking at the hut availability online (from which I knew they were supposed to come in that night, but at 11pm I'd given up on them and started my take over of the hut). It was good I chose cut out the second day and then I got to traverse over on a nice day. Also I don't think my knees and muscles surrounding them could have taken the extra day of boulder hopping.

 Here are some of the especially memorable entries in the book. I like the reference to the Princess Bride in this one.

 This one might be my favorite picture though.

 This one is a close second.

 This entry seems to be wishful thinking. While there very well also could have been a marmot under the cabin, there most definitely is a pack-rat (or rats). I saw him/her coming into the woodshed in the evening. He was just a bit larger than the size of a baseball. Another entry also mentioned a marmot. I think the noise at night just seems too loud to be one rat to some people. But that is just what happens when you are lying there alone in the dark and the stupid thing is scratching at the door intermittently. Your mind plays tricks on you. The scratching in the roof and walls was definitely the pack-rat, which I found more disturbing than the door.

 I successfully completed all but number 2. Why do I always forget my earplugs on hut trips??

This is also a great drawing. 

After a disrupted, but decent sleep, I was ready the next day for the traverse.

(Day 2 - August 2 - Woodbury Hut to Sliver Spray Hut Traverse)
(Day 3 - August 3 - Ascent of Sunrise Mountain)
(Day 4 - August 4 - Out via Silver Spray Trail)

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