Monday, August 10, 2015

Soaking wet hikes are rewarding too - 5040 Peak, Vancouver Island

MISSING - 5040 Peak

Last seen 7 km east of Highway 4, 5 km west of Sutton Pass on Vancouver Island, resting peacefully with Cobalt Lake close by.  5040 Peak is described as a limestone outcrop with karst features.  She stands approximately 5040 feet (1536m) and is a resident of the Alberni / Clayquot area.  Reported missing by its Mackenzie Range cousins Cat’s Ear Peak, Triple Peak, and Mackenzie Peak.  Object of interest in case of missing mountain described as a dark gray cloud layer diffused by falling rain. If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of 5040 Peak, please report directly to your local alpine club or avid Vancouver Island hiker. (5040 Peak usually stands above pictured lake)

Can you guess what kind of view we had on our recent west coast hiking adventure? Even before the adventure began, Joel and I knew it was going to be another one of our summit attempts without a view. Yes, another one.  For some reason I think the weather gods figure if anyone can handle no view hiking adventures, it is us.  Weather forecast called for 90% chance of rain. Sunny the day before. Sunny the day after.  One of the driest summers ever on Vancouver Island. We get 90% chance of rain? Ok. Challenge accepted. The goal was to summit a peak on Vancouver Island that has been on my radar for over a year now.  Originally we had planned on doing this over a two day backpacking trip but that had to be adjusted for a variety of reasons. Not a big deal. It was still doable as a day hike.

The fact that we did not reach the summit is a tiny unimportant detail of our adventure. Of course, like many hikers, hiking in sunny, clear weather is what we want.  Weather gods take note. Especially in an area that has stunning views to feed your soul.  But does that mean you cancel a planned trip because of rain? For us it was never an option. It has been months since we have been able to escape into the wild.  Sure, we have been mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and swimming in rivers all summer long but I mean getting as far away from civilization as possible and stepping into the wild spaces of Vancouver Island.

There is something special about using your own energy to move through whatever terrain is put before you and the wilder the better.  For me, it is empowering, calming, rewarding, and I feel completely at peace with everything.  The rain just shows another side of the wild and is equally as beautiful and rewarding.

The rain most certainly added discomfort to our hike. It began to fall from the time we started hiking to the time we got back to our vehicle. The first part of the trail is through a forest, straight up, but for the most part we kept dry. Once we got out of the forest canopy and started hiking thru the heather alpine, things got a whole lot more wet.  Legs brushing against the shrubs at knee height felt like a glass of water being dumped down my legs and into my shoes.  Can the leaves really hold that much water on them? Even when not the first to hike up the trail, it still felt the same. Poor Ben and Liv, the bushes were waist high for them.  Roots and rocks become slippery. Phone and camera lenses begin to fog up. Hands are never dry and after a while pretty much the whole body is feeling wet.  By the end of the hike I can honestly say I know how a drowned rat feels and we most certainly looked the part as well.

Some may say it would be a waste of time to hike to such a beautiful location for no view or pleasure but I beg to differ. Watching the white wispy fog roll thru the trees and across the mountains I know are there is a beautiful sight. Mysterious and powerful.  I noticed the creeks and waterfalls along the trail pick up in flow as did the sound. When the lenses were not all fogged up, I found colors in the photos to pop in contrast to the grey backdrop.  Extra bonus was not another living soul to be found. The human kind anyway, we did spot a grouse. Being an active family who frequents hiking trails often, it was a great test to see just how far we can hike in the rain and what we can do to limit our discomforts.

Spotted a possible Sooty Grouse in the heather alpine

Misty Mountains and waterfalls
Adventure Girl has turned into a space alien! Testing out the emergency blanket.

It was kind fun being in the rain and when we arrive home the kids both told me they had fun hiking, even if they were soaking wet. I told them how proud I was of their efforts and what a great learning experience it was to know they can be outside in the rain for a few hours and manage. Then it was a mad dash to the bathroom for first dibs on a hot shower! Those little buggers are getting too quick!  
{ and funny apparently :) }

Trail details: 5040 Peak is located in the Alberni/Clayquot area of Vancouver Island and is part of the Mackenzie Mountain Range. Trail access - Heading west towards Tofino on Hwy 4, turn left on Marion Creek Mainline, 5km west of Sutton Pass. Then it is a 10km drive along a logging road with several water bars to negotiate. 4x4 recommended. Trail distance to summit – one trip report says 4km. Another says 6.7km. Both say 950m elevation gain. Reported hiking time to Cobalt Lake (half way) 1.5 – 2 hours.  Cobalt Lake to Summit – 1-2 hours. Return hiking time – 2-3 hours. Total 6 – 8 hours hiking depending on your speed. Not including stops. Our trip report – To Cobalt Lake 1.7 km in 1:20 mins and back down in 1:40. 3.4km round trip, 3 hours hiking and 583m elevation gain/loss.


  1. I love your sense of humour! All's well that end's well! Glad you made the most of the rain and located the peak!

    1. Not gonna lie...itching to get back and see it for myself!

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