Weather: Overcast in the morning turning to thick fog and cooler tempertures at higher elevations finally to turning to sunshine in the afternoon.
Click - 'Black stars' to view photo taken from approx. location.
A few months back I received an email from an old caving buddy ďBill West-SellsĒ stating that he was putting on a hike up a trail he had been working on for the past thirteen years. I quickly sent back a reply saying that Iíd be there. On June 21st I rolled out of bed early enough to wake up and drive up to Sayward by 7:30am. The skies were slightly overcast when leaving Port Alberni, I was hoping for them to clear up by the time I reached my destination. The drive up was a pleasure with the new Inland Hwy., taking you all the way up to the far end of Campbell River now. I arrived at Billís place in good enough time to have a good BS with him before the other hikers started to arrive. We all quickly introduced each other before some of us set our $60.00 radios on the same channel,in the hope we could keep in good communication with each other throughout the trail. Shortly after 8:30 we were all ready to head up the trail. My plan was to try to set a steady pace throughout the whole trail to see what kind of time I could do it in. The others were going to take their time and enjoy the scenery. Phil Stone was going to walk with them up to the H'Kusam Col and head off to do a 2 day ridge run all the way down to Mt Kitchener and come out the Big Tree main line.
The trail starts in Billís backyard and crosses a logging road before heading up into the timber. Once in the timber the trail goes by a "Last chance water" and outhouse service spot.Then it gets steeper,winds up with a few switchbacks and after a short while you're at the first viewpoint,300 M. What a view.There is a register to sign and two benches to sit upon. After that the trail switchbacks are fewer and farther between. Now the clouds started to roll in and the weather took a turn for the worse. When reaching the 1000m sign the wind had picked up and the clouds were now whistling through the trees,but by the time I got to Keta View Rock the wind had stopped. At this point the worst climbing is done but the walk through the fog in the Sub-Alpine was kinda spooky. The visibility was down to less than 30m. All you could see was the outlines of the mountain hemlock. When I arrived at the cliff just above the lake it was like looking down into the abyss. I couldnít see the lake through the fog. Noticing some pink flagging tape to my right I followed it down to the Alpine lake which was starting to thaw around the edges. From here I lost sight of all flagging tape and was a little unsure of what way the trail went. I chose to go left and stayed close to the lake's shore hoping to come across any flagging.Once past the lake I headed straight up towards the direction of the Col that I could not see at the time. When I crested the ridge I somehow ended up 30m to the left of the Col where the trail supposedly was. The fog was still thicker than ever so I decided to double check myself by looking at the GPS and it showed the trail to be to the right of me. Some easy down climbing on exposed rock and I quickly saw some flagging tape. I tried to call the party behind me but no luck, the radio had been quiet for some time, so I had a bite to eat and tried once more. Nothing but silence. The hike down off the Col was fairly straight forward, staying on the right side of the creek youíll be rewarded by a groomed trail that takes you down to the deactivated road systems. By the time I reached them the sun decided to come out, off came the rain gear and on with the shorts. It starts off with a 2km walk down a reactivated for quads road [Bill's work] 1 valley downstream from the headwaters of Stowe Creek.The last 750M of the trail,before the "Parking Lot",was completely deactivated last Sept. but they left us a 1 ft. walk path.From there you'll count 100 cross ditches in 4 miles to the Highway. But we're not going there.Walk the road for 4 km and look sign," Billís Trail / Cottonwood Connector. Turn right here. The deactivated road follows around the base of Mt H'Kusam just above Springer Ck. at the 250m level then finally ending back onto Billís Trail up near the Outhouse. Hike down the hill to where you started.
Interested in hiking the area. Email Bill, as he has a detailed map of the trail and area plus he'll have a story or two to tell.
For more Stories and pictures on Bill's Trail visit "Welcome to Sayward Online" Cheers: Quagger