The forecast looked good for the weekend, so we were excited to get out for yet another September hike. There is something really great about hiking in September – usually we are more in shape, I am actually enthusiastic about hiking, there are less bugs and of course there are berries. Blowdown Pass seemed to offer a perfect combination of short access to the alpine, a picturesque lake for camping and a few excellent scrambles nearby. When we woke up on Saturday to a grey and cloudy Vancouver we were a bit confused. But the forecast still looked good for Pemberton, and actually it looked really hot.
As we crossed the Lions Gate Bridge it started to drizzle – great. Then of course I fell asleep and when I woke up near Mt. Curry I felt something really strong and bright through the window – sunshine!
We drove up Duffey Lake Road, past numerous pointy alpine peaks, and then turned right to Blowdown FSR. There were about 12 water bars (apparently new) and at about water bar #5 we almost considered turning around and going to a more reasonably drivable destination like Marriot. Gili managed to manoeuvre all the water bars and after each one of them we sighed in relief. That was probably the most challenging part of the trip, at least for Gili.
When we reached the end of the main road we parked. Four wheel drive vehicles with high clearance can actually drive right to the pass. That is probably one of the highest destinations in the area that one can drive to. Our guess is that the road was built for a mine somewhere in the area, otherwise we can’t think why such a good road would go so high.
We hiked a few kilometres on the logging road, but honestly I expected more of a slog and we were soon at the turn off to Blowdown Lake. The lake was beautiful and very inviting and since it was so hot we immediately jumped in. The water was cold, but oh so refreshing. We then had our lunch, took a short rest in the sun, pitched the tent and were ready for our first scramble. There were a few beer drinking motorcyclists by the lake who managed to ride all the way there, but luckily they didn’t stick around for much longer.
We followed the creek from the lake to the pass, which was the most direct route. At the pass we were on the border of the Stein Valley Heritage Park, which we haven’t visited, and it sure looked attractive, we’ll have to check it out some day. The scenery in general was very dry, but as we got higher we started seeing more snowy peaks in the distance.
We then decided to scramble up Gott Peak, which was a bit longer and higher, and leave Gotcha Peak for the next day. There was a path going steeply to the sub summit and from there we followed the ridge till we reached the true summit. The views were beautiful in every direction. We were right above the lake where we camped, so we decided instead of backtracking our route, to hike directly down a steep heather slope. It was pretty steep and my feet and knees didn’t like it so much. I am not sure if it was indeed shorter in time…
When we reached the lake we had about an hour more of sunlight and we immediately started cooking dinner. It was nice that the camp was already set up. We had our dinner by the lake watching the sunset, with the lake all to ourselves. Then Gili hung the food and later joined me in the tent. It was surprisingly warm, even at night, and there were no bugs, which was of course very nice.
We woke up to another beautiful day. After breakfast we made our way to Blowdown Pass again. This time we took the old road, which is actually a nice trail. We then turned right to Gotcha Peak and started scrambling up. We met two guys there who had driven up late at night and slept in their jeep at the pass.
From the summit the views were impressive and included the summit of Gott Peak and our route from the day before. Then we decided to be a bit more adventurous and descend a different route, through some small lakes we saw below us, making the trip into a loop. The only thing was that we weren’t sure if we could make it down to the lakes because there was a cliff section on the ridge. But one step at a time and we made it down. When we looked back at the cliff it looked steep and almost impossible to climb down, but in truth it wasn’t too difficult. Then we had to go down an ugly talus slope but once we did that we were by the beautiful lakes. We then found a trail that led us back to Blowdown Lake. The best surprise though was finding endless patches of yummy huckleberries right close to camp, so we spent some time there.
Back at camp Gili upgraded our lunch to toasted cheese sandwiches (with homemade focaccia). While we were eating lunch we could see a group of about ten jeeps making their way to the pass. We then packed up and hiked down the logging road. The same group of jeeps passed us on their way down, but none of them offered us a ride. We were back at the car within an hour, just as the weather was changing. We actually heard some thunder on our way down, and hoped that we’d make it back before the storm, unlike our previous hike where we were almost hit by lightning.
Then came the water bars again which Gili carefully maneuvered and after we sighed in relief about 12 times we were back on the Duffey Lake Road, still a long way from home. We stopped in Whistler for an excellent dinner at Pasta Lupino, it’s been a while since we ate there. Then it started raining hard, so it was perfect timing. On the way back we saw a sign “highway closed 7 km north of Lions Bay”. Hmmm… Listening to the radio we discovered that there was an accident and the highway was indeed, well, closed… Since there are no detours possible we just waited it out, luckily not for very long, and Gili had a short nap. We were soon back in the urban environment, once again leaving all those wonderful mountains, lakes and sunshine behind us… The perfect combo.