Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rosseau Route to Mt. Cokely - Family hike to finish off 3rd summit in the Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

Hiking to the summit of Mt. Cokely as a family marked the third and last peak within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region to cross off our list.  It was way back in 2013 when we hiked up Mount Moriarity and then in 2014 to the summit of Mt. Arrowsmith via Judges Route. Each offer something different and are three Vancouver Island peaks that should be on your list of hikes to do!

Summit of Mount Moriarity with Mt. Arrowsmith (center) and Mt. Cokely (further back and right) far off in the distance.

Top of Mt. Arrowsmith with beautiful views of the Strait of Georgia and BC's Coastal Mountains in the far distance.

We chose to hike Mt. Cokely via the Rosseau Route but there are other ways of reaching the summit, which I will mention shortly. We found this route to be both challenging and fun.  It offers an up-close and personal view of Mt. Arrowsmith, has some scrambling with exposure, and panoramic views while hiking for that added wow factor.

The always stunning Mt. Arrowsmith seen from the summit of Mt. Cokley

Distance: 3.2km trailhead to summit (total distance approx. 6km)
Time: We made it to the summit in 2 hrs 50mins but that was with plenty of time spent playing in the snow fields, snowball fights, snack breaks, and just taking in the views.  It can easily be done faster but why rush the experience? Enjoy the rewards along the way.

Trail Use: The Rosseau Route is moderate hiking with some class 3 scramble.  What is Class 3? The Yosemite Decimal System rates difficulty of hikes and climbs. Class 3 is defined as scrambling with increased exposure. Handholds are necessary. A rope should be available for learning climbers, or if you just choose to use one that day, but is usually not required.

Ropes are not required but we took the opportunity to practice.

You can also hike up the Saddle between Mt. Cokely and Mt. Arrowsmith (trailhead just before Rosseau Route) and scramble up to the Cokely ridge and return via Rosseau Route.  Nice loop and about the same distance as in and out on the Rosseau Route.  Both routes are accessible year round (pending snow conditions and gate closures) and crampons, snowshoes, and ice axe may be required.  You can also access Mt. Cokely summit via the CPR trail at Cameron Lake up the north slope of Mt. Cokely.  For winter and early spring, ice axe, crampons/snowshoes would be required.  This route would be aprox. 20km round trip.

Trail Prepardness: In the past few years, access to Cameron Main and Pass Main logging roads have been closed due to dry conditions during the summer. Highly recommend hiking the Rosseau Route in early spring or in the fall. Check Island Timberlands blog for updated gate closures.

There is cell coverage along the entire route but that should never take away from being prepared with the 10 essentials in your pack. Check out North Shore Rescue on what to bring. Mountain weather can change faster than what usually happens at home. For this type of hike, both Joel and I carry packs with the 10 essentials plus more. Ben and Liv also carry their own packs with most of the essentials and know how to use what they have. If for some reason any of us were to become separated from the group, the items in our pack are there just in case.

On this hike I played around a bit with some videos and put together a short clip that really shows off the beauty of this hike. The music is a bit corny, work in progress. (click on video to open or play)

Trail Description: Gaining 675m elevation in just over 3km to summit.  Beginning of the trail is a single track dirt path up through trees and follows along the base of a cliff. Within about 1km you will begin scrambling up the ridge where full views of Mt. Arrowsmith, Alberni Valley, mainland mountains and the ocean surround you.  The route has three areas where the scramble has some exposure but has plenty of good hand and foot holds to get you through it. Once on the ridge, the trail is easy to follow with rock cairns or flagging tape to guide you. The route is pretty straight forward – keep to the middle of the ridge.

Route follows the ridge on the left, above the snow line, and to the far left peak.

One thing to note, when reaching the ridge after the first scramble (when you are scrambling out of the trees and into the open). Look around and pay attention where you are coming up from.  There may be a tree marked with blue flagging tape (was for us) and this is where you need to scramble back down in order to return via the forested trail. If you continue past and keep walking back along the ridge, you will find yourself either having to back track or negotiate some steep cliffs.

Trip Report: What else can I say about this hike? The hike had the added challenge with the scrambles, the weather was perfect - warm and clear. Conditions were ideal and being Mother's Day just made the day more special. I asked Joel and the kids to tell me what their favorite part of the hike was. Their take on the day goes as follows:

Ben was a big fan of the snowfields. Ever patch we came upon sparked yet another snowball fight.
Liv loves to climb so it was no surprise that she enjoyed the scrambling. Here she is motoring up the first scramble.
Open views early on and the added challenge of scrambles on the hike is what Joel liked best. He seems to like capturing our pain as well.
My favorite moment is capturing our usual family shot. I never know what kind of mood we will be in but always love the family shot. Memories I will cherish forever.

Trailhead Directions: Access Loon Lake Main just before Port Alberni (travelling west) on Hwy 4. Follow Loon Lake Main to Cameron Main and turn left. Then turn left on to Pass Main. About 8km up Pass Main is where you want to park. There is an old "getting to be grown over" road on the right that is the trailhead. Note: The Saddle Route trailhead is just before the Rosseau Route trailhead. The logging roads are all well used and manageable with most cars. As with most logging roads, there are rough spots but steady as she goes will work just fine. 4x4 not required. We drove in a Hyundai Santa Fe. 

Trail Map: 

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