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Mt BcBride, Marble Peak, Morrison Spire - Late Summer
Date: August 12-14 2010
Weather: Sunny / Smokey from local fire
I recently got back from a three day adventure up in Marble Meadows. Yes, I spent the night out. And, not just one night but three, which is a record for me. My last overnighter was in Jasper a mere 20 years ago. Other than nearly swamping the kayak on the crossing over to the trail head, the trip was quite enjoyable. Even packing those things they call 85lt backpacks wasn’t so bad. This is another thing I have not worn since my Jasper days. We got an early start on the ridge up to the Meadows taking just over three hours to reach our base camp. Finding the first lake open and no one else there, we chose this as our starting point to our objectives over the next few days. After setting up camp I decided to take us up Marble Peak so we could get a birds eye view of the surrounding area. It also helped us see the distance we were to travel the following day. Taking the main trail above Globe Flower Lake we headed straight up the south slopes to the obvious notch just below a small rock face. Once there we stayed on the south side and skirted around the cliff for 50m before heading up onto the SW Ridge. Another drop off the ridge was needed just before the summit, which also requires some scrambling and route finding. There were great views once on summit. For the descent we stayed on the SW Ridge to the meadows then took another trail, which took us around Globe Flower and Marigold, Limestone then finally the small lake where we had made camp.
The next day was going to be a long one so we got up before sunrise and got prepared for the hike up to Mt McBride then hopefully over to Morrison Spire. Once the sun started to rise it was obvious that the smoke from the interior fires had moved back in and had almost shrouded all but the closest of peaks in a thick blanket of smoke. Also the sun was a brilliant red and was low in the sky so I took advantage of the moment and took a couple pictures. The hike over to Wheaton Hut went fast and before we knew it we passed by a party of students from Strathcona Lodge who were in a program called WYLD. They also were heading up Mt McBride that day, but first were practicing their Self Arrest technique on the snow slopes in the Meadows. A short distance on was the saddle, and then we passed over a few small bumps before reaching the lower slopes of McBride. The hike around the south bowl is pretty straight forward and we ended up hiking up to the scree slopes and gaining the ridge just below the rock bluffs. The rest of the way is an easy hike up low angled snow/scree slopes to both summits. Some exposure is found when stepping out to the South summit. The North summit is another 400m further on. We made a quick stop on top for snacks and to sign the "North Summit" register, then it was time to head down and venture over to Morrison Spire. On our descent we ran into the students from the WYLD program and they were all pumped and ready to hit McBride's summit. It was also nice to see so many happy faces high in the hills. Hiking over the bumps towards Morrison Spire, both Tawney and my legs were starting to feel like lead and our pace had slowed to a plod. Luckily the distance to the Spire was closer than it first looked, so in less than an hour all three of us (furry Tekarra being the third) were standing on the Spire's summit. By now the smoke had started to clear up so we could see some of the more distant peaks. As well, we could easily see how far we still had to go to reach camp. My legs were feeling OK but Tawney was starting to feel the extra mileage, so we took it easy on our return to camp. Back at camp I got the stove going ASAP to refuel all of us with food. For dessert I bought a package of freeze dried Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. Hummm... you say. That's what I first said. Let me tell you - that was the best freaking dessert I've had in a long time, let alone it being instant to boot. All we could hear in camp at that time was mmmmmmmmmm.... oooooooooooooooo.
On our last day in the Meadows, we were up early, had camp down by 7am, and then headed down to Buttle Lake for an early crossing. We wanted to make sure the lake was calm on the trip across and sure enough it was like glass. This was a great trip, and I now have to say overnight camping is pretty cool. Note: for some of you wanting to head up there, the winds on Buttle Lake usually blow from the north to south, picking up by 1pm and stopping just before twilight. The conditions can be deceiving as it fooled me. The shore was fairly calm but the waves were 4ft+ out in the middle. Yikes... I really thought I was going in for a swim that night.
PS. Did I mention that Tekarra was riding my kayak?
How to get there?? Head North up to Campbell River and enter into Strathcona Park from Upper Campbell Lakes. Once in the Park Drive down the East Shore of Buttle Lake and park at waypoint which is also a Picnic site.
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