Exploring Strathcona Park
Learning to Backpack in the Vancouver Island Alpine
Guest Blogger: @ginaoutdoors
Gina is an avid local adventurer who is passionate about backpacking and backcountry adventures. We’ve partnered with her this summer to showcase Strathcona through a locals eyes. Along the way, Gina will be sharing her hikes from this summer as well as tips for those looking to get into backpacking or just wanting to brush up on their knowledge.
A visit to Strathcona Park could mean anything from waterfall sightseeing, finding silence in old-growth forest, to accessing the immense wilderness the sub-alpine and alpine environments have to offer.
I can honestly say that there are few more satisfying moments than reaching the summit of a difficult trail, except possibly sitting down for the post-hike pint back in town.
It was in the heart of Strathcona that I discovered my love for hiking & backpacking. I truly fell for the wealth of gorgeous alpine lakes, picturesque peaks & fascinating ecology that comes with putting boot to trail.
Heck, who even knew that we had that stuff on the island.
But I wasn’t always getting out all the time hiking and backpacking. Simply because I didn’t know I could do it.
There was something about the world of backcountry culture that felt alienating. Maybe not knowing what to bring, what trails were an appropriate difficulty, or simply what Brene Brown describes as “effing first times”.
It was through Philip Stone’s guidebook Exploring Strathcona Park that I began to discover my trail side.
“From hiking the roadside loop trails to ascending to the summit of Mt. Albert Edward; camping at one of the drive-in campgrounds at Buttle Lake to pitching a tent beside a pretty alpine lake deep in the backcountry, there is superb hiking and camping throughout Strathcona Park.”
Certainly, those first ascents of switchbacks weren’t easy, but as soon as I’d spent my first nights under the alpine stars I was HOOKED. Now, years later, I have a pretty optimized set of gear, I’ve trod hundreds of kilometres, zipped myself in for dozens of mummy-bag sleeps. My backpacking M.O. has gradually evolved, there’s only so many times you can lug a ridiculously heavy bag up a mountain before your serial over-packing tendencies evaporate.
But even in my fervent explorations, I’ve only explored a teeny tiny percentage of Strathcona Park. So this summer I’m setting my sights on some steeper goals.
Despite all the craziness going on in the world right now, or maybe because of it, there’s never been a better time than now to immerse yourself in nature. The peacefulness that trail silence offers serves as a refuge to the barrages of work emails, headlines and pandemic worries.
I cannot wait to hit new heights this summer and find whatever lessons the trail has waiting for me. I’ll be sharing these adventures & some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned from my hiking experiences.
Some of the places I aim to hit are Bedwell, Cream, and Love lakes, Paradise Meadows to Kwai, Circlet Lakes with hopeful Mt. Albert Edward summit, Kings peak, and maybe a journey into the near-vicinity of the Golden Hinde. And if those go well you can bet I will be flipping through my guidebooks for more.
So here’s to summer 2020, and all that a hundred-year-old park can teach you. Happy trails!