Round 3 Go: Sunshine Coast Trail km 95-130
After last Fall, our 50km hike got Candace and I to the half way point of the sunshine coast trail. Tin hut mountain. It was a slog. Skunked on a fire in the cabin, and socked in with weather. The trip ended in a windstorm that had us up all night trying to connect with our shuttle guides on a reroute to an alternative extraction point due to extreme weather conditions coming off the mountain, and a tight schedule to catch our plane ride home.
The year prior I had begun this as a solo project doing the first 50km of the trail, in this magnificent region that has captivated me. It started as a trip between trips. A filler. It wasn’t something I had gone out of my way to research or some long aspiring dream I had. It was a trail from a map I had picked up at an outdoor show, a map I had placed in my red accordion file, my “adventure” folder for another time. An idea.
Well as ideas go, time finds opportunity, and opportunity finds reason. So here we are. A project that is in its 3rd season. Tackling kms 90-130 (give or take) of the SCT.
This year we were lining up potential plans to head back to Powell river late September to take on the 3rd installation of the route. But as times change, so was the prospect of taking off hiking during the beginning of my son’s kindergarten. This had us thinking. The window of opportunity is smaller than originally planned, we finally settled on the last weekend of May for departure.
We made our usual preparations, connected with Jesse from Sunshine Coast Shuttle Service (A must for anyone hiking the SCT). Jesse and I shared drop off and pick up ideas, confirmed all the information with Candace and we were set. Time to hop on a plane.
We arranged for Dennis to pick us up at Powell River airport. It’s a quick 20 minute flight from Vancouver’s south terminal. Bags packed into the SUV and away we go. In this section we were tackling KM 93 – KM 130 roughly. On the drive up to our destination point I chuckled about the crazy weather we had at the end of the last trip. We were not forecasted for anything that intense this time around. Our drop off was at Lewis Lake recreation site. As Dennis helped us with our gear, he wished us well, and that we’ll see him further down the trail in about 3-4 days time for pick up. The SUV slowly drove back up the FSR and quietly off into the woods. Candace and I stood for a few minutes and enjoyed the lake view before doing a few final adjustments, and then putting on the familiar packs and began making our way onto the trail.
Day 1 – Lewis Lake to Elk Lake Hut (14km)
One foot in front of the other. The morning flew by fast, and before long we had hit Km 100 of the trail. We passed a few other hikers as we crossed March Lake Rd before continuing on the trail. The weather was perfect. The remainder of the afternoon had us zigzagging through a number of bypasses next to extensive logging projects, a very visual reminder of the heavy logging influence in the region. We saw old logging debris as we continued. Old pulleys, cables, even a few vehicles from another time.
We arrived at Elk Lake Hut around suppertime and made quick work of digging into our meal packs. There was even coffee and whiskey to boot! Around 930pm, another gentlemen showed up. He had hiked in to join a work crew in the morning. We chatted a bit about life, forestry and the future before calling it a night.
Day 2 – Elk Lake Hut to Walt Hill Hut (14km)
It rained heavy through the night. I awoke wondering if it would be a day of hiking in rain gear and soggy boots? We packed up and poked our head out of the hut, happy to see low lying clouds, but no rain.
The morning air was cool, colder than yesterday for sure, but perfect for hiking. The section of trail for today had us jumping on and off a lot of old spur roads. We soon started to see traces of snow on the ground and before long we were full on into it. The trail was quite overgrown here.
We passed Coyote Lake camp and took lunch at the foot of the accent towards Walt Hill. After a quick bite, we began the accent, switchbacking up the hillside. Soon the clouds began to part and by mid afternoon the sun was shining. We took another rest at an old repeater station before continuing on. Finally some views of the coastal range started poking out and the ridge leading up to our destination Walt Hill Hut. We arrived and did a bit of exploring. What a gem of a place! As the night began to fall upon us we enjoyed some soup and the luxury of the pellet stove. It was not long before we called it a night.
Day 3 – Walt Hill Hut to Lang Bay (16km)
I woke up early. 530am. I could see through the upper cabin window that the sun was cresting behind one of the mountains in the distance. I quietly grabbed my phone and rushed downstairs through on my boots and jumped out the front door quickly making my way to one of the tent pads that overlooked the valley below. I was able to snag some amazing sunrise photos and then just kind of laid back and enjoyed the morning sun. It was warm, only a few clouds hung around. I made my way back to the cabin, climbed into my sleeping bag and managed to get in another hour’s sleep.
Eventually the morning sun engulfed the upper floor of the cabin and we got up for the day. Our plan was for a shorter hike today. Only 7km to Deer Creek Emergency camp. Half the distance we have been averaging daily. So we eased into our morning. We took our time with breakfast and packing before heading out the door.
The trail descends down from Walt Hill before leveling out and then piggybacks on some ATV trails and spur roads. We spent the morning chatting about the difference between this section and the last, and future trips. We stopped at Bugs bunny camp for lunch, while the mosquitoes feasted on us. We continued on another 2-2.5km to what we assumed was Deer Creek camp. We soon realized that there is a reason it’s called “emergency camp”. We sat and thought for a moment.
A decision was made to push on and make our way down to Lang Bay instead and utilize one of the camps there. We hiked a bit further and managed to get some cell reception, confirmed a spot for the night, and to boot the Lang Bay General Store would still be open by the time we got there. This promised the prospect of fresh food, and perhaps some cold frosty bevvies for the evening. With a little extra pep in our step we hiked down the final section of FSR and down into Lang Bay. A stop in at the general store, rations in hand we made our way to Seabreeze Resort, our final camp of the trip. We set up our camp, took a few cold drinks down to the beach and enjoyed the view. A fine end to this section of the trail, and the icing on the cake was ordering pizza to the campground from Salt and Peppers Pizza!
Already looking forward to the next and final section of the Sunshine Coast Trail.