Hiking

hiking Elk Pass, Strathcona Park B.C.


Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

As there is not much information online about Elk Pass, I put together a video.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Easy access from Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

The Elk River Trail in Strathcona Provincial Park is super popular. But not many hikers continue to Elk Pass (in yellow).

from Exploring Strathcona Park by Stone

For one thing, it’s not easy to find the Elk Pass trailhead.

Everyone sees the damaged sign pointing to Landslide Lake.

From there, search the trees on the left and you’ll find the high and overgrown Elk Pass sign.

Very quickly you realize Elk Pass is no trail. It’s a route you try to follow using bits of flagging tape and cairns.

Demanding hiking.

You’ll have to navigate dozens of blowdowns.

Worst was this dry log jam.  I bushwhacked around, finding a bypass trail on my return.

In some cases multiple route options have been flagged by past hikers. I somehow missed the unofficial “Hemlock” Campground.

Instead I bashed on up the Elk River valley.

With no better option, I finally decided to build a flat platform on the snow.

7:45pm

Great camp, actually. But there’s always the risk more snow will fall from high up Mt Rambler.

In addition, mosquitoes were terrible at higher elevation.

Next morning dawned another lovely day.

It didn’t take long to reach the bowl below Elk Pass.

There are some campsites near tarns.

Up there!.

And it didn’t take long.

Elk Pass 1540m

Here’s the view back down the valley from the Pass.

At the top I spoke briefly with a couple attempting the long, challenging Golden Hinde Traverse. (47km 5-8 days)

Did they make it?  I’m not sure.

One hiking group did complete the Golden Hinde(less) Traverse between July 18-24, 2020.

I too carried 8 days food with faint hope of continuing on the Traverse. But decided it was too difficult, remote and dangerous to do solo. What if I got hurt?

In fact, I fell badly twice on the Elk Pass trail: scratches and bruises.

But I did continue part way over the Pass towards this large unnamed lake, a continuation of the Traverse.

Backtracking, I decided to traverse/scramble up to the next pass to the S.W. of Elk. That turned out to be the highlight.

Big vistas over low clouds.

From there it was down, down, down.  Back into the trees.

I found hiking down even more challenging than on the way up.

It was nearly 6pm by the time I reached “Hemlock”, the unofficial camp I’d missed the previous night.

It’s named for huge Hemlock trees.

About 8pm I began hearing bombs dropping.

Loud.

Turns out it was a squirrel cutting down pinecones. From on high.

Next morning I returned to the highway via the Elk River trail.

Great hike.



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