Monday, September 9, 2013

Summer of Summits

As I look back at the thousands of photos taken over the summer of 2013, it is hard to decide what adventure to blog about.  It was a summer full of adventure!  As a family we enjoyed two backpack trips on Vancouver Island, hiked the Kettle Valley Trail near Kelowna, BC, and explored new climbing crags locally and while on vacation.  The highlight was enjoying our first back country hut experience at the Conrad Kain Hut in Bugaboo Prov. Park.  (Located in the Purcell Mountain range of southeast British Columbia.)  This adventure sparked another summer adventure: our quest for glaciers!  I have already blogged about our adventures exploring the Columbia River wetlands by canoe, bike, and feet.  Yip, it was a busy summer.  Oh, can’t forget the three summits we knocked off our list!  

There is something special about adding 4 rocks to a cairn marking our mountain summit as a family. 

The whole family adding a rock to the cairn marking our summit of Mt. Horne.

Vancouver Island may not have the highest peaks when compared to the Rockies or Purcell’s of B.C. but the elevation gained while hiking is comparable to some.  We just start at sea level. The three Vancouver Island mountain summits we hiked to were all very comparable in terrain, time (about 6 hrs up and down with lunch and exploring), distance and elevation gained while hiking. 

Mt. Benson:  1023m  3.5km to summit  719m elevation gain.
Ben, retracing our path to the summit of Mt. Benson.

Mt. Benson dominates the skyline west of Nanaimo, B.C and beckons all outdoor enthusiasts to come on up.  Well known for the mountain biking and hiking trails, Mt. Benson also has several climbing crags and is training ground for die hard runners.  I hear one can run up to the summit from Witchcraft Lake in 23mins.  Kudos to whoever that is! I also hear the view is amazing but who hikes just for the view? 
Enjoying the typical Vancouver Island view, grey clouds, on Mt. Benson.
Mt. Horne: 910m  5km to summit  750m elevation gain.  

Decision, decisions. Every adventure leads to more.  Mt. Wesley summit added to the list.

Located near Cameron Lake and accessed from Cathedral Grove near McMillian Park, Mt. Horne is overlooked by locals and tourists that are en-route to the west coast of Vancouver Island.  Hard to pass up 360 degree views of the Alberni Valley, Cameron Valley, Wesley Ridge, Cameron Lake, Georgia Strait, Mt. Arrowsmith…you get the idea.  We enjoyed the final ascent to the top climbing up and over large boulders.  Made us feel like mountaineers!

Summit of Mt. Horne. Hard to beat views like this.

Mt. Moriarty:  1603m  4km to summit  700m elevation gain.   

Beautiful alpine hike along the ridge line to summit of Mt. Moriarty.

The first part of this hike is full of switchbacks, typical Vancouver Island forests, and steep.  Thankfully, once you hike up this section, the rest of the hike to the summit is along the ridge and is a beautiful alpine hike.  From here to the summit are views of steep bluffs, rocky terrain, and plenty of alpine plants to ohh and ahh over.  From the top, Mt. Arrowsmith can be seen and once again it is calling our name.  Next time!  

Filling out the log book at the summit of Mt. Moriarty with Mt. Arrowsmith in the background, yet again. Guess what summit is next on the list?

As one would expect, the scenery was stunning and our mental and physical toughness were tested.  Not expected, if never hiked to a summit, is the personal satisfaction, confidence, and joy felt when standing on a surface that is higher in elevation than all points immediately adjacent to it. (Defined as the summit.)
Years of adventuring has taught me that setting out to accomplish great outdoor feats is not just for adults.  Ben and Liv, who are 8 and 6 years old, also experience the same rewards.  They are gaining valuable lessons in determination, goal setting, personal achievement, and self-confidence.  Among many, many other things.

I no longer look at our adventures having a limit.  They are now limitless in what I can learn, my children can learn and what we learn together.  Adventure On!

More photos of our mountain summits: Photo Gallery - Summer of Summits

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