Distance -37km, 16.5hr: Starting at Oshinow Lake,"Red Pillar Route" coming out Flower Ridge Trail head at Buttle Lake
Welcome to Islandhikes Hiking Page. Below is a " Topo/Image Map", along with a GPS route of this long traverse. Also this is the first time I've added a Track Profile map. I will propably start added them to all my hikes in the future. Stay tune in because I'll be doing up some 3D maps with a satillite skin layed over top.
Weather:Clear at night fog fills valley bottom in the morning, clearing up by afternoon
Route conditions:Good up to 1712m, no marked route to Tzela Lake over to Flower Ridge. Some route finding will be required to go through this confluant section. Well definded backcountry trail once reaching the 2nd Peak on Flower Ridge all the way down to Buttle Lake.
Date: Sept 5th 2005
Summer of 2005 was quickly coming to an end and I'd still not gotten around to doing my yearly GA Hike. I had a few ideas' rolling around but still not made up my mind. It was a toss up between a valley hike to Margaret Lake or a high ridge walk to Tzela Lake. Both choices would eventually come out at the far end of the Flower Ridge and finishing down at Buttle Lake
The weather was going to be a factor in my final decision and lately with the low pressure hanging around it was looking like Margaret Lake was going to be my choice. My plan was to go one day during the Labour Day long weekend as there was still 14hrs of daylight left, this would hopefully be enough time for the cross over. Monday so far looked like the best day out of the three for better weather, plus Melissa would be able to drop us off at Oshinow Lake early that morning. Now I just had to organize a pick up at Buttle Lake for that evening. Chris, a friend of mine, had been on a few hikes with me this past summer and showed interest and also his girlfriend Rose was willing to drive up to Buttle Lake and wait for us to come out. Now I just kept my fingers crossed hoping the weather was going to be on our side.
September 8th Yawn … 1:30am I got up and started getting prepared to head out the door by 3am. Peaking outside all I could see were stars, then checking the barometer I saw the pressure had gone up. Margaret Lake trip was now going to be changed to the longer and harder Tzela Lake route. By now Chris heard me shuffling around, also the dogs "Kiku & Aneecha" knew something was going on. I awoke Melissa at 2:50am and quickly settled her into the truck and by 4:45am we had reached the trail head. It was still very dark out with no sign of Dawn for another 1.5hrs. By 5am Chris, the dogs and I all headed down the road under LED power. Hiking in the dark is a little weird if you are not used to it, kinda like walking in a tunnel, but it was second nature for me as I do allot of caving during the wet season. By 6am it was just starting to get light out so we took a short break before starting up the long hill which lead on to the south ridge leading to The Red Pillar. Luckily last year this section had been brushed out all the way to the alpine so the walk up is some what enjoyable. Our next stop was just above Esther Lake for a quick refuel and a few pictures. By now we had been traveling for about 3hrs. So far the morning had stayed nice and cool with the clouds appearing from nowhere and filling the valley floors up to the 1000m level. We were now above that and it was mostly clear out with some high clouds and a mist swirling around the summit of The Red Pillar. Hiking up the South ridge is a pleasant walk gently gaining elevation up to 1712m Peak. Just last month Chris and I were hiking up there. The only difference being it was much hotter and dead calm out "so we thought". About ¾ of the way up that section we heard what sounded like a flag getting violently blown in a strong wind. How could this be as it was dead calm out and there was definately no flag pole around for miles. Curious in what we heard we headed over to the sound. Chris was just in front of me and all of a sudden it looked like he was going to get blown off the mountain. Luckily he was fine and I then got hit by the strong breeze, we both came to a conclusion that we were now standing in the middle of a small whirl wind. It was the coolest thing ever, you could hear it whipping the ground up all around you and then it would blast you in the face. It was around 10/15 min we stood there in fascination and we were still getting blasted, it just seemed to go in circles and stay in this one small area. Unfortunately we never got treated this time, oh well we probably didn't need it as it would have froze us instead. My fingers tips were starting to turn white, fall was in the air up in the alpine. Once on top of 1712m Peak we then turned west and descended the main gully between the peaks. This was to be the longest of many descents ahead of us that day and this one would drop 600+m down to Tzela Lake. Most of the snow had melted in the gully by this time and what was left was a hard pack ice mixture, not recommended for walking on without crampons. It was easy to avoid by sticking close to the left side of the gully and hiking down a rock chute. At the bottom it leveled right out and turned into a nice hanging meadow which could make a nice camp spot for someone. To reach Tzela Lake we now had to first hop over a small ridge on the right side of us. I noticed a low angled ramp easily leading up to the ridge top. I decided on this route as it was a "for sure way", instead of trying to round the corner and possibly run into rock bluffs. At the ridge top we could see our first destination, Tzela Lake. The ETA from here fooled me, I thought it would take roughly 45min to reach, but it took over 1.5hrs. The going down was awkward as there was a fair amount of loose and slippery rock, plus it was still in the shade so the dew on the Flora was heavy which soaked us in no time. Once down at the lake we all looked like a bunch of drowned rats. It was nice to have the sun shining on us by this time so we took advantage of it and try to dry up as much as possible before heading back uphill. I had heard many stories about how pretty Tzela Lake was and I was not let down. I'd only ever be able to see it from the summit of The Red Pillar and always wanted to walk its shores. There were some really nice camp spots along its South side on the flat rocks, we even came across a sun bleached deer rack that someone had found and placed there. It wasn't the easiest thing to get across the out flow creek without getting a soaker. We did have some long interesting hops, skips and jumps to cross the creek and realistically it would have been easier just to take the boots off and forge across. On the other side there was a bit of basic route finding. When going down the west side of the lake we came across a couple of rock bluffs along the shore line that had to be avoided. Roughly half way down the west side we started our 550m ascent up this un-named peak, by this time we were already behind the schedule I was trying to keep, so I was hoping we could make up for it when going up the rocky gully. The going was good for the first half, but we ran into a small lake that was not shown on the topo, which we had to descend a short distance to be able to navigate around. This was going to cost us a bit of needed time and energy, especially now that the sun was beating down and sucking it out of us. We had to stop again soon to replenish ourselves, but had no time, as we were falling further behind on our schedule pick up at Buttle Lake. I asked Chris if he could wait till we topped out on this peak and he agreed. On the top of the un-named peak due south of Tzela Mountain, clouds appeared to creep up on us and the wind picked up making it feel like a storm was moving in. Looking at Chris once again I asked if he could keep forging on, he only nodded so I took that as a yes. The ridge between us and Flower Ridge I had heard was a very lumpy ridge walk, meaning it had allot of up and downs. We could see the Flower Ridge in the far distance; roughly 5kms as the crow flies, but all we had to do was hike up and over what looked like four small peaks which ended up feeling like four Everest's by the time we got over it. During all that time we still never took a break since Tzela Lake and by this time we were almost exhausted when we reached Flower Ridge. For a route description of this ridge, it is fairly straight forward to cross in clear weather. Just hike up to the top and down to the bottom of all bumps except for the largest one, which you can easily sneak over the east side, saving you some elevation gain. In snotty weather it would be a bit more difficult because there are only certain routes up and over the bumps and one could get bluffed out if not careful. By not taking any breaks over the past 4hrs we had picked up some time, which hopefully gives us enough time to get off the upper section of the Flower Ridge. Taking a 20min break on the second peak and a quick foot cool down in the small tarn close by, we got ready for the last 15km hike out. The time now was around 5:30pm and I had hoped to be at the parking lot by 8pm. This was not going to be the case, we were now fairly pooped so running the last section was out of the question, even though we were able to make it to the first summit in just under 2hrs. We took our last break on the first summit just before the sun went down. For the last leg of the journey we both still felt fairly good, it must have been the last break. Once again we had to pull out the LED's to guide us the rest of the way down the ridge. The time was around 8pm once we got into the big timber and we still had a long ways to go before reaching the parking lot 5kms and 1000m below. There was no speed records set here, we just took our time following the blue glow coming from the LED headlamps. The feet were now feeling hot and some what tenderized from being slightly damp all day, unfortunately caused by the dew when descending to Tzela Lake. It was 9:30pm when we finally hit pavement and there was one very happy Rose waiting for us. We were just as happy to see her, seeing as we were almost 2hrs late and were wondering on the way down if she got tired of waiting and just left us behind.
Starting from the Port Alberni Info Center to "Oshinow" Deep Lake Trail Head (1.5/2hrs - approx. 40kms)
Drive down Johnson st hill to River rd turn right and cross over a small bridge, veer right again just before the Petro-Can now drive north west for 18 kms to the far end of Beaver creek rd. follow through the right turn onto Sommers rd and stay on it for 2 kms then take a left onto a main logging rd. Stay on this main line for 9kms and follow the road left crossing Lanterman creek. Drive for another 5 kms down staying left the whole time on branch 105 until you come to a T intersection, turn right here. Now stay on the Ash River Main Line first passing Turnbull Lake on the left then Elsie Lake on the right, after that you'll cross over the upper Ash river. Stay on the Ash River main line for another 8.5km before it turns right. If you cross over the Ash River again heading up the Gretchen main line you've gone too far, so turn around and take the first left. Here the road narrows and bushes in a bit, approx.4km turn right onto branch 110 from here the road get rocky with steep sections. This would not be recommended for low clearance 2 wheel drive vehicles, 4x4 is preferred. 2km further up take a sharp left onto branch 110H there might still be a small sign nailed to a tree saying " <-- RDPIL " drive the last 5km to a slide which buried the road in 2003. The trail starts on the other side of the slide. "You can also come in from Great Central Lake road but when writing this report the logging activity was quite active in that area. The Beaver creek route cuts off 12kms of active logging at least."
Starting from the Port Alberni Info Center to "Oshinow" Deep Lake Trail Head (1.5/2hrs - approx. 40kms)
How to get To the Flower Ridge Trail-Head Starting from the Port Alberni's Info Center. Drive 35km east on hwy 4# towards the Inland island highway turn North drive 110km towards Campbell River's far end. Turn left and drive 40km West on Hwy 28# towards Gold River, instead of turning right and crossing between Upper Campbell and Buttle Lake. Go straight and drive another 29.5kms on the Westmin Rd right to the Mine and pull into the Flower Ridge Parking lot, which is just before you cross over Henshaw ck.
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