Mount Price/Clinker Peak
I planned a hike which I had read about on the website and was to take a Québécois, my nieces’ boyfriend from Montreal. It was another chance for me to really get to know him. I had hiked Joffree and biked many trails in the whistler area with him. He is a strong young fella and I am an old fart but while he is in the “apprenticeship” for becoming a full fledged relative I figured I could safely push his limits. He loves the outdoors and wanted another trip like the Joffree glacier. Since I had to retire my boots I bought a new pair to break in, rechecked the website for updates and reread the trip reports, borrowed a Fluer-de-Les from a co-worker for him to fly on the peak, all was set for Sunday.
He flew in and called from whistler on Saturday night with good news/bad news. He was in whistler but his knee was too sore to hike, I was welcome to bike with him and hang out in the evening though. S- - t now what, I am set for a route I have never hiked pumped myself for it, the weather gods are smiling and I have already arranged “grandma” I will sleep on it as I know my wifes uneasiness with solo hiking.
Today is a good day, no today is a great day. It has been several years since I have had the occasion to hike on my own. The weather is perfect, I decide to solo it.
Once I had kids eleven years ago and then being two days late in the stein during a forest fire ten years ago caused my wife put her foot down. Out of that a few things happened first I got the best quote from my dad, second I had an extremely stressed out wife after watching reports of hikers having to be taken off the trail, and forestry saying to her yes the area is in full blaze and no we have not located him yet. Since three is a charm I even had a few of my brothers chastising me for being irresponsible, hiking when I had a new daughter.
My dad calmly sat her down and said “Judy there is no need to panic, he is two days late, he has been in the bush since he was old enough to tie his shoes, so he is either fine and does not need a rescue, or he is dead, in which case he does not need a rescue”
We both laugh at it now and initially she actually put away my hiking boots. I soon became grumpy with no outdoor time. She relented but I could no longer hike solo. My wife would continually find me people to take hiking, but many lacked the gear and the majority lacked the love of the longer trips.
Then I found Clubtread.com, with many levels of expertise and all with one common thread, love of outdoor pursuits. While I have enjoyed many hikes over the years with members, and have myself learned of new areas and techniques from them, I still missed the quiet times.
I digress, today is a great day and I am going to go up to Clinker peak, Mount Price and maybe even the table.
I am packed for the visit to whistler and the car is loaded with everything and I set off at 4:20am. I search for a place to get a coffee and find a pot of absolute tar at the Tim hortons off the upper levels highway. What awful coffee but what the hell I stayed up to late and I really need to have some pick me up juice. After a stop at the seven eleven in Squamish and a much better cup of java I am indeed ready. I arrive at the rubble creek parking lot at 6:30 and there is a mass of people who are in some sort of a race which is starting shortly. I am not wanting to impede on them running up so I grab my pack and head out at a good pace at 6:45.
The trail is peaceful, I have been on it many times before the fresh air of the forest, the white noise from the river, these are familiar and without realizing it I find myself reflecting on where I am. Not geographically but where I am at this point in my life. I laugh and smile as I remember the small things which make all of our lives busy but worth living. . It seems as though I am able to watch yesterdays events with my six year old play in surround sound with digital quality. I am proud of her she learned the art of riding a 5 speed bike without training wheels, in the short span of two hours. It was a large step for her and she was sooooo happy at her accomplishment. I love kids, especially mine, but kids in general. I am from a large family, the second youngest and I was fortunate enough to share the outdoors with numerous nieces and nephews while they grew up. Since no one else in my family enjoys hiking I could take them on great excursions like the W.C.T. and Cape Scott. Rental kids were great for me, it kept me young and when they were taking calculated risks and learning the same glee I see in my owns kids now I saw then with them.
A cob web snares me, the spiders night catch now gives me an unpleasant morning snack. The sound of the river is now gone and the switchbacks are in full swing. Some hikers count them, others curse them, and I wonder how long they will be able to withstand the numerous boots. The trail is well worn and some of the cribbing is beginning to erode. Before I know it I am at the junction to Taylor meadows, I have not had the tail runners race past me, and since I overheard them mention “cheakamus” I assume their route will take them via Taylor meadows.
It is a crossroad for me as well a crossroad for the trail, since I am solo should I stay on trails where I know I will run into others. Go up to Panorama or the tusk, yet again. Technically I actually did not give my word I would never hike solo. However I am not a lawyer and I generally don’t like “technicalities” I suppose all of us who hike eventually find themselves at this juncture. It is another one of these decisions where arguments are strong on either side, responsibility versus recklessness. On my last trip with some fellow treaders it was said I was “responsible” is this a good thing or a bad thing? I think of my kids my wife and what is in my pack. By most peoples standards it is heavy for a day hike, everything “in case” I have to stay the night. A very large first aid kit and the knowledge to use it, (as long as I am conscious) the planned route is with my wife and in my car,GPS two headlamps,( my daughters is in my pack as well) I must have twenty granola bars, lots of chocolate and eight bottles of Gatorade.
Yes I am going, I will just make sure to talk to “Ranger Rick” The new boots feel good not as nice as the “solomon slippers” I had to retire but they are new and they may yet be as comfy. As I pass by Barrier lake I encounter more cobwebs and notice how low the lake is. I have hiked in this area since ’84 and have never seen it as low. There are wisps’ of mist on the surface and a few fish are surfacing for the bugs. I am startled by the sound of the bushes rustling and reach for my bear guard. I turn slightly to see a small deer which promptly bounds away. I take off my pack and get my camera out and consider taking a picture but I have seen this lake a million times and have only one and a half rolls.
I head off towards Garibaldi lake, still clearing cobwebs. The sun is cresting over the trees, I have not seen anyone, people at the lake must still be eating. As I am about to cross the bridge to Lake Garibaldi I encounter the first person, and we talk for a short while. I snap the first picture of the day as the sun is up. To the left is Panorama ridge. This lake seems low as well and I wonder about the spawning grounds of the fish which are near the outflow.
After a quick shot it is off to the rangers cabin to have a chat with him. I had already read from a trip report from “R Wade” that the trail begins near the cabin so off I was. Most people were all along the waters edge enjoying the sunrise with some taking pictures of the morning dew on the leaves of fireweed and blueberry bushes. I stopped by the rangers cabin and talked to him for a short time and he reminded me that this was only a rough route and at times hard to follow. I acknowledge that and confirmed I was heading towards Clinker and Price. We chatted a bit more and I asked him if he had taken the route. He had, so I asked when he thought I might make it back to the lake since it was 8:50 he thought I would be back around 4:00. I left him my name contact numbers and plate number, and set out to the pumphouse in search of the yellow flagging tape.
I know that some of you guys like waypoints so I marked the start on my GPS coordinates taken on the Etrex legend N49 56.439’ W123 03.315’ and the elevation was 1471m. I spotted the tape and enter the trail, I followed it for a bit but the flagging was sparse and often different colors. The trail seemed to disappear and I must have spent ten minutes backtracking, or retracing steps. What the ranger had told me and what I had read was the trail was tricky in spots and I have to concur. Eventually I found a well trodden route and made a commitment to pick up the pace and not have to find this route at dusk, since even now it was difficult. The trail, once found, appeared quite easy to follow until the first boulder field where the flagging was not seen and they were no cairns. I must admit that I am color blind with red\green and any colors that are of similar shade tend not to stand out. So for those of you not color challenged then it may be easier for you to spot the flags tied to the trees. At one point I almost turned around thinking to myself that it is just after nine am and I am having difficulty in the day. I preserved, partly because the sun was just at the right in my face while searching for the flags and I could waypoint the boulder fields.
The views were spectacular, and I had only once seen the tusk from this side of the lake during a winter snowshoe to the sentinel hut.
This is one of the first shots I took it illustrates the trees which you travel through along the way. While these look quite thick for the most part once you are past the first boulder field the trail is easier to follow. This is taken from a lookout or at least a resemblance of one, the trail seemed to often braid in areas with views so getting back on the main route would be tricky without good light. From the same vantage point is a view of Panorama ridge.
Hiking through the boulder fields and looking back over what appears to be the old lava flows there are some interesting ragged old trees. What a tough existence they have. By the way the route goes near this tree.
I have been cruising along at a good clip for a while now and open up to another boulder field. What a view of the tantalus range,(guess on my part), I worked on the Habrel hut and remember seeing the tusk from there as well. I snap a photo and then realize once again I cannot see any cairns or flagging. Note the old tree to the right of the picture, I incorrectly figured the route followed passed it into the boulder field. Wrong. When you come to this outcropping, stay left almost doing a “U” turn around some larger boulders and then you will skirt the open area, staying above the boulders.
This was the last time I found myself not on track, only if life were so easy. By now if I was in California three strikes and I would be in hot pink shorts smiling at my cellmate while he brushed his tooth, and showed me his “artwork” tattoo. Fortunately I am not there instead I am well on my way to Clinker ridge. Another shot of Tusk and Panorama before I forge on. The start of the trail is in the bay near the small islands off the shore.
Just before I hit the ridge the valley opened up and it was a very nice easy trail. I followed the trail which goes up the ridge to the right and then like “R Wade” I switched to the left side. The ground was soft and loose and the angle was on the steep side but I was up on Clinker before I knew it. Somewhere along the line I remember I had the GPS so I waypointed at N49 54.979 W 123 02.475 elevation 1994m.I scrambled around it for a bit and quickly realized that the flies had not had a good enough dose of old man winter. They were all over me like a fat kid on a smartie so I dove into the deet. The problem was that my can of chemical was about as useful as George W. Bush, lots of air but no real effect. I could no more repel the flies than he could find Osama or make a good decision.
Oh well I just kept moving and hoping the breeze would pick up. There are some neat formations up there and I scrambled and played like a kid on monkey bars. Snapping photos and scambling to the tops of some of them. That is until the responsibility chip kicked in. Remembering the unfortunate events which happen to a fellow hiker on the lions recently, I took the “hey I am 15 chip out and placed in the 46 year old chip” It is like going from spicy Doritos to low salt low fat vegetable thins. Here are a few shots on Clinker.
After a bit of playing and realizing that “oh yeah, I do want to be back in the daylight” I decided to cross over to Mount Price. These are right next to each other and since I was still full of energy I had visions of even getting to the table. So time to feed the flies on price. Here is a shot of just how close the two are, I am descending Clinker then heading right away to Price. In the background is the table.
The surface was a bit firmer than the approach to Clinker so I made good time to the top of this puppy, and it was just as much fun as Clinker. Not as much stuff to scramble around on but sure a lot of open flat area to pitch a tent.
Water is a bit of a problem though with just a small amount of snow left. This picture does it justice the snow left was about 400square feet.
The views were awesome three sixty all around. Here is a view of the Sentinel glacier, if you look close and you know where the shelter is you can just make it out,near the edge of the shore is the sun reflecting of the time roof. I snow shoed there in ’86 and it was not much of a shelter then just an “A”: frame like the one on Wedge. Back in ’86 the glacier was a lot bigger as well.
The views from Mount Price to the table and Mount garibaldi were nice and clear. The elevation difference from mount Price and the table did not seem to be that much as I appeared virtually level with it. I waypoint price as well N 49 55.071 W123 02.120 elevation 2052m. Now that I am able to check my Backroads map it shows the tables elevation at 2020m. Here is the view towards tabletop showing the warren glacier and Mount Garibaldi.
I walked to the edge shown here on the picture, and while it is not a steep drop it is not a route I would want to take to try to head towards tabletop. There is a valley between table and Price/Clinker and I think the best route would be from Clinker. Here is a shot showing the base of table top and the start of the warren glacier.
I decide that even though it is still early I had better not head for the table. It was not in the plan besides the earlier I get down the earlier I can make it to the ice cold beer in the van and escape the flies. So I head off happy to have been here and looking forward to a nice easy trip home. But before that I have time for some nice rock hounding and my daughter is learning about rocks and minerals so I load up the pack with several samples of volcanic rocks, what is another ten pounds going downhill. She will love them and then I will add them to my collection around my pond. Rather than go down Price and back to the top of the Clinker ridge I opt for the direct route down. Across a bit of a patch of snow, this gives me another nice view of the tusk, then straight down to the valley.
Of course this route appeared easier than I thought and immediately my boots where stuffed with sand and sharp rocks. Several times I was required to clean them out. My rarely used gaiters would have helped and if you decide to descend this way make sure to pack them. Here a shot of the trail entering the valley which you should head for once you are off the loose dirt it is easy walking.
I never got off track heading out it seems the sun to my back and not in my eyes helped a lot. In the end though the route finished up at the shore of the second bay not the first bay by the pumphouse. Since the lake is low I just followed the shoreline to the pumphouse and when I go again this is the route I will take as it avoids the braided trails at the beginning. Here is a shot where the trail exited looking from the bay across the lake.
I headed back to the rangers cabin to check in and make them aware I was not lost or had not fallen from some rock outcroppings. For those of you wondering about time it was 1:20pm. There were no flies at all at the lake so I ate lunch while I talked to the ranger. One last shot before I head down to the car. This one is a picture of where I was looking up from the lakeshore.
I feel great my new boots clearly did not come with the blister option and other than I find them significantly slippery than my old solomons they have done well. The lake is absolutely packed with people enjoying the day. Lots of families who have stayed the night are heading home. On the way down I am inundated with 50 students and teachers heading up to the lake for two days. I am glad now that I decided years ago to only dayhike in the area as I would feel as though I am waking up in a mall rather than in the great outdoors. I also pass a huge group of UBC hikers who kindly allow me to pass and wonder just how full is the parking lot and are there that many spots at Taylor and the lake for this many tents. Then I remember the last trip on the W.C.T. with so many people it took away from the hike. No wood on the beaches, garbage everywhere and the outhouses at Tsuiat falls where full. Fortunately it was the last of the nieces and nephews which showed interest in hiking. Now I will have to take my kids to Nootka Island, or the mid coastal trail instead. I reach the parking lot at 3:30 for those of you who “need to know” times. I open the van and have an ice cold beer and head to the rubble creek to rinse off. I feel great and wonder should I have taken advantage of the weather and day and gone for it to tabletop. No I can leave that for another day when I can enjoy it with my daughters. Or maybe the “apprentice” will be out again in the summer and we can overnight on Price and then head for tabletop. I spend quite a bit of time enjoying rubble creek cleaning off and realizing that I am in a great time in my life. No I have not got a ton of cash, like the majority of us my wife and I are comfortable but would like to have a mad money account. I do have healthy vibrant kids a great wife, my health and supportive family. I live in a country that I need to dodge cars occasionally while in the crosswalk or on my bike, but I don’t have to wonder if they are packed with explosives. And at least for now I have access to open undeveloped parks. Yes life is good now it is off to whistler to poke the “apprentice” in the eye for bailing out.
One other thing generally I do not write trip reports many are already on the site, as is one for this route by “R Wade” and I believe “Deneb”. However I am in the process of upgrading my old trip reports over the years. Please search the other reports as well if you decide to go. I tend to let my mind wander while hiking a chance to mentally rejuvenate and each night I away from my kids I write them letters which I read to them before bed on my return. This report like the Nootka island report is based from these letters. It is a tradition, like me packing rocks out for them on every hike. So my “facts” on the hike are not always the most accurate. The GPS is new to me and I rarely remember to use and when I do it is like the rubicks cube to remember how to “mark” things. But on this hike I found its ability to “go back” useful. Take one with you and make sure you have good light. Enjoy. Ed