22 hr Return: Phillips Ridge Trail Head
Welcome to Islandhikes Hiking Page. Below is a " Topo/Image Map", along with my GPS route I recording. Starting from the Phillips Ridge Trail Head right to the summit of the Golden Hinde.
Click - 'Lime green / black dots ' along route
Date: August 17/18th 2004
Weather: Day time Clear & Very Hot, Night time Dark & Muggy.
Trail conditions: Good, lots of cairns on ridge top.
Hiking Time: 22hrs Return starting from Phillips Ridge Trail Head
I had first started talking about an attempt to the Golden Hinde as day trip a few years back. The only response I got was it couldn't be done, as there was way too much elevation gain and loss. So I pulled out the topo maps did some figuring out on exactly how much elevation gain and loss was there to be had. The hike was only 25kms one-way which wasn't far if ones walking on fairly level ground. After plotting a route that looked to be one of the best way in, the figures came out allot higher than expected. Just going in I would gain over 4100m and loss 1400m, so a return trip would double that count. It would be like climbing to Nanga Parbat's summit from sea level in one day. In my younger years I had done a marathon tandem bike ride from Banff to Jasper in just over 11hrs and then a fast trip from Jasper/Victoria in three days but that was well over 20 years ago. So for the last year or I've been pushing my abilities pretty intensely just to see how far I could go before my limits were reached. Out of Fifty plus trips I had only one slight bonking and I'm sure it was just because I never fueled myself up properly. Feeling strong and plus the timing was right because I had just climbed Victoria Peak 2 weeks ago and Mnt Elkhorn last week as day trips from Port Alberni. So why not finishes it of with a day trip to the Golden Hinde. The weather had been awesome for the past month, so the chance of any changes was slight to nil but I still packed the bare essential for an overnight bivi plus raingear and a change of footwear. As support "The Boyz" Steve, Turbo and Blair good friends of mines had started hiking in two days prior. We had planned to meet up with each other on my way in and again on the way out so I was not completely alone if ant thing happen while I was back there.
It was early evening the ambient temperature was still a bomby 30 degrees which made it hard to get some shut eye. Getting up at 10:00pm I drank a few cups of coffee and wondered what the heck I'm about to get myself into. Still having good vibes about the trip I packed up and headed out the door just after Midnight. As unusual the Island Inland Hwy kept me on guard due to the local deer wandering along side and pulling into the parking lot just before 3:00am. The reason I choose to start at this time as I was told the first section of the trail up to the ridge was well defined and easy to follow under artificial light. Hopefully the light of dawn would be upon me by then and I would then be able to follow the rock cairns from there on. For the way back I would be able to follow the "track route" my GPS recorded while hiking in. It was a moonless night when I entered the inky darkness of the forest under the power of three LED's, being by my self was sort of eerie. This feeling quickly went away by the time I hit the first switchback and started going up to Arnica Lakes. At the lakes I got turned around slightly due to all the trails shooting off in different directions. I'm sure the main trail is easy to follow in the day but at night it's a different story. Past the lakes the trail winds gently upward through sub-alpine forest, before turning southerly and heading up to the start of the Phillips ridge. When reaching the first peak "1400m" I was now able to turn off my head lamp. The Easterly skies were now a brilliant orange and dawn was creeping up the ridge. Here I got my first views of the Golden Hinde and man it was a sight to see glowing in the morning sun. The hike across the bumpy ridge was everything I had expected plus more, the up and down was defiantly there and it seemed be never ending. It was a relief to reach the Alternate route and knowing I was close to half way to my destination. The first section down to Carter Lake was steep but the trail was easy to follow but when reaching the lower bushier section I then had to keep my eyes peeled for flagging as the worn trail was no longer to be found. The route zigzagged through the forest heading towards the main creek which ran out from the lake and crossed the creek just below a small set of waterfalls. I and quickly lost the flagging on the other side but knowing that Carter Lake was just above I bush bashed for about 200m before spotting some orange flagging to my left. The terrain up to the lake was fairly steep and I was quite surprised at how far the alternate route had actually dropped me down instead of slowly cutting over to it. I guess there must be some snotty bush on the other side to make whoever put this route in the way they did. A worn trail appears again when I reached the end of Carter Lake, which followed around the South-West shore line. At the head end of the lake I hiked up to another lake, which is un-named to my knowledge. A short distance ahead and I was standing on the shores of Schjelderup Lake. I had heard stories this was a beautiful lake and I was defiantly not let down. Here I ran into my first travelers nice folks who belonged to the CDMC they even offered the use of there stat phone if I needed. I mentioned to them if they had seen my three friends, they said would they be loud? I said that's them. They had heard them during the night but were unsure where they had camped. I apologized for them and said they meant no harm and were just having fun. They laughed and wished me luck on my adventure. Hiking around the shoreline of the lake I bumped into two more hikers who had chatted with them and mentioned to me they were planning on camping near the outlet of the lake but when arriving I saw no tents so I just carried on. Crossing the Mt Burman's North-East Cirque I had a total un-obstructive view of the Hinde. It looked fairly close now but the distance here was deceiving as there was still lots more kms ahead of me. At the time the cirque was snow free and there was a nice worn trail heading right the way up to Mt. Burman's North Ridge which was unexpected. The hike down the ridge to Burman Lake was fairly straight forward as there were many cairns to guide me. Reaching Burman Lake I looked at my watch and seen it had taken me just over 8hrs to reach. The intensity of the sun rays beating down on me was really getting hard to take and I could feel some fatigue setting in due to it. After taking a soaker in the lake I was feeling a little better but the heat was going to be a problem as there was no breeze and very little shade to be found once I got onto the ridge leading up to Climbers Lake. I made the decision to forge on but at a reduced pace. Seeing the lake was like seeing an Oasis in the desert and just in time as my mind was getting foggy and my body felt like mush. After dipping into a lake which is still rimmed with snow will wake up the dead and that's exactly what it did to me. Now I sitting at the base of the Golden Hinde and the legs were still feeling strong my mind was still wandering a bit but my stubbornness kept me pushing onward. So picking up a small stone I rubbed my nose on it and preceded up determined now to bag this peak.
The Climb South-East Couloir
The first section is an easy scramble up a 300m talus slope. Close to the base of the rock face I turned north and climbed a short gully covered in vegetation and loose rocks which placed me up onto the south ridge. From the ridge I followed cairns some were hard to see so you had t look for them. The route now took a 45 degrees angle crossing an open slope before it turned south and then up the steep rock gully on the right and not the gully on the left which was full of snow. From here I had to do some class 4 scramble to reach a short false ridge. I then turned north again for a 50m and rounded a small cliff band before heading south again to climb more 4th class up the right side of a gully full of large loose rocks with plenty of good exposure. Some basic route finding is required but there are cairns out there you just got to find them. On the top of this section I climbed between some large boulders then a short scramble to the summit. Finally I'd made it!!! Starting from the Phillips Ridge just11hrs 15 min ago I was now standing on the summit of the Golden Hinde. Looking around on the summit I was not impressed at all. For a peak being so isolated it had more signs of human present on it than the ones out my back door. Unfortunately who ever packed the wooden cross up, it is now nothing more than a hanger for folks to dangle there personal mementoes off. As I went to sit down I noticed some of the rocks were covered in some brown sticky substance not sure what it was and plus on one off the larger rocks some idiot had smeared what looked like chocolate pudding all over the face. It looked gross and hopefully it will get cleaned off during the next rain so others don't get the pleasure of seeing it. Beside that the views were outstanding of the surrounding peaks and the lake directly below the North-West Face was a real beauty and reminded me a lot of Milla Lake without the Moving Glacier. After taking a few shots I signed in and then started my descent of the mountain as I was now still only half way into my adventure.
The descent to Climber's Lake went smoothly but I could start to feel a sharp shooting pain every now and then coming from the outside of my left knee. Packing some snow on the knee for 10 min made the spasms stop for now. I was able to make good time down to Burman Lake and up the North Ridge of Mt Burman to where the trail heads down to Schjelderup Lake. Just as I rounded the corner to hike the shores of the lake I could hear some whopping and hollering coming from the far end, chuckling to myself I knew I'd finally found The Boyz. When reaching the them, Steve incised I come over to their camp so they can feed me something hot and pump me full of black coffee in preparation for the long trek back to Westmin Mines. Plus he knew of a bush free route up onto the Phillips Ridge to show me, which started right behind their camp. I was game for that as going this route would save me from the bushy descent at the far end of Carter Lake but it would require a bit more elevation gain. Once at camp Blair already had coffee ready and soon after handed me a cup a noodle soup. After stuffing my face for 30 minutes it was time to say my good bye's to Jason and Blair, Steve decided to guide me up the first section of this Alternate B route. The first part heads up a fairly wide draw covered in vegetation and small trees onto an open ridge. Above that we crossed a small bench heading East up towards the oblivious wide rock chute. This is where Steve turned around, I wished him luck on their summit attempt the next day and he did the same. By the time I reached the ridge top I'd been hiking for just over 16 hours. The hike up from the lake took less than 30 min and it was all down hill to the Alternate route which headed down to Carter Lake. Hiking the 3 humps turn out to be a grunt but the main thing is that I was able to put them behind me before darkness fully set in. Reaching the high point on the ridge darkness was now here once again. It was time to pack the camera away and dig out the headlamp for my adventures crossing the ridge in the dark. I had heard of stories of people getting completely turn around while hiking the Phillips Ridge in foul weather when visibility was poor. Hiking in the dark with under LED gives out a great light in close quarters but in open areas it can only shoot light out 3/5m in front. This was not so good for looking for cairns that were placed roughly 30/50m apart. Now my GPS is worth its weight in gold, that's why I never head into the bush without it. I do carry a compass but it defiantly doesn't show me exactly were the trail is and would have been very slow going, so much so that I probably would setup a bivi. Not the same thing with my Magellan Yes I'm Gelling with my Magellan this unit is so so sweet when probably setup. When ever I stumbled off track I just looked at the GPS and it showed me if I was too far right or left, making it a synch to stay within 3m of the trail at all times. When the trail totally disappeared I just followed the GPS track I recorded while on my way in. Now 20 hrs into the trip my left knee was starting to act up, luckily I had started my descent off the ridge and the trail was easy to follow. Making it to the Lakes I had to stop and figure out the situation with my knee as it was near impossible to walk on without being in pain. Pulling out my first aid kit I had a knee brace and a couple of tensor bandages, after massaging it quickly to see if I could feel any internal damage. I slipped on the knee brace and lightly wrapped the tender area with a tensor. I could now stand on it but could not bend it without screaming out but thanks to my ski poles I could peg leg without too much problems. I was not looking forward to the 80+ switchbacks that lay ahead of me but in the long run they were the best thing as I had trouble on steep down hill grades but could motor along quite well on the slight downward angle of the switchbacks. One hour later I had made it down to the Phillips Ridge trail head sign, pulling out the watch in I'd seen that it was 22 hours since I started my journey up to the Hinde. I had done it. I'd made in just under 1 day. Thinking of the nice comfy bed I had set up in the back of the truck just waiting for me sounded good at the time but after trying to rest for an hour my mind was still out there the hills. So I pulled out my thermos and poured myself a coffee and proceeded to drive all the way back to Port Alberni, having one stop at a local 24hr Gas Pump in Campbell River for a nuked Turkey sub. Once reaching the homestead the knee had now locked up but eh I made it and after a few days the knee hopefully would be back to normal. Now I have to start planning my next adventure.
How to get To Golden Hinde 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 37kms on the Westmin Rd right to the Mine. Show caution when driving through the mine and respect all mining equipment. The parking lot is at the far end of the paved road.
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