Hiking Trails, Thru-hikes and Backpacking Adventures!

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Written By Clayton Kessler

On June 16, 2009
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Clayton Kessler

Clayton Kessler

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22 Comments

  1. Brent

    Hello there,

    Just found the site and it looks great! Could see myself spending alot of time on it. I was looking for a hiking trip recommendation. Myself and a few friends are coming to Kelowna for the first week of October 09 and I am hoping to go on a 3 night, four day backcountry hike somewhere. I have done a fair bit of hiking in my travels (africa/Nepal/Asia), but never in the rockies/BC/AB. I was hoping to also bring a fishing rod (told there are several streams and lakes with trout). I am pretty sure we will have transportation out of Kelowna, so anything within 2 hrs drive or so. Rugged, beautiful, decent days of hiking (6 hrs give or take), we’ll setup our own tents and all that (etc.)

    Do you have any in mind?

    Thanks in advance for any help you have!

    Reply
  2. Clayton

    Thanks for the question Brent. Sounds like you have some great outdoor experiences from around the world! Please feel free to register by using the link at the top right and share. 🙂

    What I believe you are looking for is what I call a “Spectacular” backpacking experience. I would say that on a scale of 1 to 10, the Rockies would be a 10 as far as judging what a Spectacular backpacking trip could be.

    The Okanagan is a beautiful area to live and hike in but the terrain within close distance to the valley, while providing unique and wonderful outdoor experiences, does not provide a spectacular hiking experience if the bench mark is the Rockies. However; because you have provided a two hour travel limit, I think Tracks And Trails website visitors and myself can provide some great suggestions that would be suitable.

    Since we have a two hour limiter on the drive from Kelowna, a 5 hour drive to nearest point of the Rockies from Kelowna would rule out a backpacking trip in the Rocky Mountains.

    The first adventure ideas that come to mind then are hiking adventures in the Monashee’s or Cathedral’s. Your limiter that may help narrow down the options is that you need to be near streams or lakes with fish to catch. Many alpine and sub alpine streams to not have fish. So with the above thoughts in mind, give me a couple days and I (or other TracksAndTrails visitors) will add some specific backpacking ideas! – one more note – if you are not from BC you may have to research fishing regulations and licenses.

    Reply
  3. Brent

    Hmm,

    Thanks very much Clayton. I don’t absolutely need fishing and if I was missing out on some spectacular hikes that I MUST go on, then I can skip it. Its just a pass time of mine and I thought it would be pretty amazing to fish in streams/lakes surrounded by mountains?

    As for the drive, well, I just picked 2hr limit because I figured there had to be a limit? Again, if there is a hike 3 hrs away that is A MUST then I would love to hear about it. Either way I am pretty stoked to try and organize this trip!

    As for my travels, my hiking higlights include the Annapurna circuit in Feb 02 (11 days), Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo in May 06 (2 days) and Kilimanjaro in July 06 (6 days). If anyone has any questions on these I would be happy to help. Looking forward to my next trip!

    And thanks again for any help

    Reply
  4. Clayton

    Thanks Bret. That opens up a few more hiking options. Your comment “(told there are several streams and lakes with trout)”, gives me a good laugh. Not sure if you were trying to be funny or not though. But yes, there is a stream or lake around every corner in many areas! We call it “Beautiful B.C.” As altitude increases, the fish are often not available as the small lakes and streams freeze solid in the winter, killing any fish. Having said that, a hike usually starts at a lower elevation and if one does not wants to eliminate the weight of fishing gear but still be able to fish, just add a few bait hooks and some average strength fishing line. No pole and reel though as you can just tie the fishing line and hook to a stick, add a worm to your bait hook and catch a few pan fryers! I did that a lot as a kid growing up in the Chilcotin area of BC.

    A few hiking adventure ideas are forthcoming.

    Reply
  5. Clayton

    I have been thinking a lot about locations to refer for Brent’s comment above. Here are a few spectacular hiking and backpacking areas that would fit.

    Cathedral Provincial Park; https://tracksandtrails.ca/2009/06/cathedral-provincial-park/

    Monashee Provincial Park and surrounding area http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/monashee/

    Here is one post from my hike in the area (outside the provincial park on crwon land)https://tracksandtrails.ca/2009/06/monashee-mountain-range-pinnacle-lake/ and I will be posting my trip from Monashee Lake which was amazing!

    Now this last hiking area may be the best. I am planning for a Kayak trip with friends and if it all works out will have a complete report on Clearwater Lake in the Wells Gray Provincial Park by the end of August. Until then do check out these links for Clearwater Lake – this is a truly spectacular area. the links are related to canoeing or kayaking but if you are backpacking, the provincial park shows the trails. It would be fantastic to rent a Kayak or Canoe and take hikes from the various areas of the lake.
    http://www.bcbackcountryadventures.com/canoeing/wge.htm

    http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/disclaimer/wells_gray_d.html

    http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/wg_clear/

    The follwoing link is a map that shows a short portage to Azure Lake from Clearwater Lake.
    http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/wells_gry/azure.pdf

    Reply
  6. Brent

    Clayton,

    WOW! Thanks for all of this. I have now drastically changed my plans (or am thinking seriously of changing my plans) to look at possibly flying into Calgary to hike the rockies from there? My question still stands though and the timeline is still the same, its just I am told the scenery and possibilities might be more abundant from there? I have been told to head to Jasper and find something there?

    Sorry to switch gears on you like this but do you have any suggestions for a multi-day (Sat AM to Tues early PM) camping and possibly fishing, hiking trip in this area…done in late Sept? I have heard about the Skyline trail? Is that a good one?

    I will definitely look at the links you’ve sent to see if it would still suit me more to plan my trip out of Kelowna.

    Thanks again. Much appreciated!

    Brent

    Reply
  7. Clayton

    Good to see you back Brent! Where are you flying in from? In answering your question to the best of my ability, I am completing research that I need for trips of my own interes.

    I am glad you are considering changing your travel plan slightly because if you have never been through the Rockies, the drive even without a backpacking sidetrip is worth it! All the photo’s in the world could not give you the feeling you get as you soak in the truly amazing beauty of the Rockies.

    That is why I encourage Canadians who travel accross Canada to drive at least once instead of flying. Each area Canada has it’s own awe inspiring power but the Rockies really get to me. When I came back to BC from NB, I could see the Rockies for hours prior to actually being close to them. Finally, after Calgary, the view became reality as the Rockies surrounded me in all their glory! ahhh, what a drive. I have studied several sites on hiking in the Rockies but I will now narrow that down to pinpoint several trips that will nicely fall within your timeframe and post it on my next comment.

    There are numerous Rocky Mountain companies that have guided hikes. Personally I prefer to travel with a group but without a guide. Although, in the Rockies, a guide may be a good idea and you would be sure to see the highlights. Having said that there our world reknown Canadian National Parks have brochures that show you key areas and trails.
    I will try to get some outdoor recreation companies from the Jasper area and other ares to write a few posts here as well!

    Reply
  8. Brent

    Great! Looking forward to it Clayton.

    I am coming from Toronto. I have driven out east 3 times (from here) but only as far west as Thunder Bay…Everytime I go west (calgary or vancouver) I have flown. One day I will definitely drive!

    I would prefer not to have a guide. Me and a few buddies is all I would like to see probably. I will keep looking into Skyline.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  9. emma klassen

    Hi Clayton,

    I need you help!! I am looking for a aprox.4hr hike in kelowna or close to, and is not to hard on my minivan. I am working and would like to take my youth on another hike..:) thank you.

    Reply
  10. Clayton

    Hello Emma, I think I know what a perfect hike would be! Check this out – https://tracksandtrails.ca/2009/06/mount-boucherie-and-eain-lamont-park-hiking/

    If you want another option, (I haven’t done this one yet but have talked to folks who have) Try the Mountain Goat Trail in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. Actually, the OK Mt Provincial Park will have lots of hiking spots for you and after your hike you can drop by Cedar Creek Park Nude Beach! 🙂 no actually there is a public beach at Cedar Creek Park on Lakeshore Rd and I think the nude beach part of the park is not used for that as much anymore – not sure though as I havent been there myself…

    Reply
  11. DARKEST1

    when setting up a tent in winter, how much snow to clear from under it? i have a ground sheet. should i scrape it to the frozen ground or leave a buffer of snow to help smooth out the gournd? i don’t want to wake up in a lake, or worse, a re-frozen lake.

    Reply
  12. Jesse

    I have never tented in the winter although I have slept in a quinzee on two separate occasions and having the snow melt underneath you was not an issue. I would suggest walking over the area you plan on tenting with your boots on a few times to pack it down and flatten it to your liking, leaving the snow as insulation and comfort below. The ground sheet should keep moisture from coming up into your tent. Tell us how it works!

    On a separate note I did hammock in the winter for a 2 night trip, that was exciting!

    Reply
    • Clayton

      Thanks for the answer to Darkest1 Jesse. I tented in In
      the Coastal Mountains when I was with an Outdoors Club in Williams Lake in 1984….( hey I was like 3 so put away the calculator ok). We hiked in until we found the snow in the Alpine levels. We dug down a foot or so then packed the snow and pitched the tents. I will make a post on this after I scan the pictures as it was a very memorable trip. I was dressed with several sleeping layers of clean clothing and stayed very warm. Other winter camps I have been on were with Quinzee’s or make shift shelters. My next winter camping goal is to make a wood shelter with make shift bunks that will keep me a foot above the ground. Cover the shelter in snow except a vent hole – chimney- in the top and then build up a good supply of fire wood, keep the entrance open and see if I can keep a small fire inside the shelter all night. A small wood fueled back packer stove would be my preference for heat (instead of cooking). I will let you know how it works out!

      Reply
  13. DARKEST1

    i’ll try a little digging/clearing and packing of snow. we are headed out this weekend, so i won’t have to wait long to find out what works. now is a great time for camping i think. all the snow but none of the cold.

    Reply
  14. DARKEST1

    so… my 10 year old northface tent, my buddy, and i went for a little camp last weekend. I cleared 85% of the snow from the tent site, put down the ground sheet and then the tent. we each had a therma-rest, appropriate sleeping bags and clothing. The night was warm, but in the morning, the floor of the tent was pretty wet. not puddle wet, but in the winter, any wet is too wet. It was not condensation because the tent was well vented, and there was too much moisture for it just to be condensation. There was still some snow under the then when i took it down, but i’m pretty sure that thats where the water came from, melting the snow under the tent. Maybe a blue tarp as a ground sheet next time to make sure the tent stays dry on the floor. other than that, it was a huge success.

    Reply
  15. Clayton

    Thanks for the update Darkest1! I guess the ground sheet would help but I wonder how much of a difference the temperature outside makes. I think just the condensation from breathing creates a lot of moisture. Sounds like a good trip.

    Reply
  16. DARKEST1

    hey everyone…
    i’m looking for some more info on the bonnington traverse. it’s a 4 cabin backcountry ski or hike near nelson. i’m thinking about snowshoeing it, but i can only find hiking or skiing experiences. has anyone done this on snowshoes? or have any input on this idea??
    thanks

    Reply
  17. Clayton

    I sent an email to a few sites who offer guiding in the Kootenays and to one individual who has created an awesome site
    http://members.shaw.ca/dog_house/bonnington.html

    Sandra, the individual, emailed back first. The comment was, “Doable on snowshoes, but, as snowshoes generally are, slow and tedious compared to skis.”

    Hope to get some more feedback. check out Sandra’s site http://members.shaw.ca/dog_house – this person has great info on quite a few trips in the Kootenays and wonderful photo’s!

    Reply
  18. Clayton

    I had this reply from Shaun at Mountain Sense. Pay special attention to the “exposed section”. Way to many accidents happen in the British Columbia backcountry every winter. Here is Shauns answer;

    “Sorry I’m so late with this email, but we’ve been quite busy with the avalanche/ski season.

    The Bonnington traverse could certainly be done on snowshoes, but all the risks associated with winter travel like whiteout navigation and avalanche hazard would apply. This is complex avalanche terrain and there is also an exposed section traversing the ridge between the Copper hut and Barrett Lake so travelers would need a high degree of skill and experience.

    Photos can be viewed here:
    http://mountainsense.ca/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=61

    Cheers”,
    Shaun King
    Mountain Sense Guiding & Instruction
    “Your Guide to the Vertical Playground”
    http://www.mountainsense.ca 250-505-5139

    Reply
  19. DARKEST1

    awesome. the pics are sweet too. i know there is avalanche danger in the area now, so we will wait a bit longer. until after new years for sure. or possibly consider a spring/summer trip. i like the idea of no bears though in the winter. thanks again.

    Reply

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