To escape the crowds in the local mountains during the (first) summer of Covid19, we headed to the Southern Chilcotin. We first hiked the High Trail and Nea Peak ridge in September 2013, This time we decided to go to the area from Jewel Bridge to Spruce Lake, and from there we would hike up to Sheba Ridge and around to Harvey Pass from Trigger Lake. Four nights and five days – Grand plans!
August long weekend can be hot – this was no exception. We left on Thursday with the Lilloet forecast for 40 degrees.
Day 1 – Jewel Bridge to Spruce Lake (north campground) (17 km)
The hike in along Gun Creek is along a good trail – bikers and horses have not churned it as it is dry and sandy in many places. The trail passes through a few old burn scars so the forest is quite open. When closer to the roaring glacial Creek the temperature was mercifully cooler.
When the trail strikes up across Gun Meadows, it was brutally hot and we just kept going until we reached the wonderful flower-filled forest around Spruce Lake. We decided to push on past the small South Campground. The North Campground is on the lake between a couple of the private cabins and camps, right at the jetty where the float planes arrive bringing the “cheaters” and their bikes or gear. BC Parks have made some great upgrades with new pit toilets and bear-proof food caches. Since they had been thinning the trees there was lots of chopped wood for campfires!
Day 2 – Sheba Ridge (19 km) –
We got up at 6 am so that we could start hiking and beat the heat when on the ridge. It’s a bit confusing to navigate the trails to get up to the viewpoint above Spruce Lake, which is the end of the official trail. From here there are two options to get around the steep, crumbing rocky peak at the east end of Sheba Ridge. We chose the slightly longer southern loop, hoping it would be less steep. The trail crosses several gullies and scree slopes, and is a little vague to follow in the forested sections – but it’s ok if you have a bit of experience. However, we reached one section where the trail crosses a gully that is seriously crumbling and sliding. Gill got caught out by how loose it was and it was a little hairy for a few minutes. After this section it’s an easy scramble up to the ridge. Sheba is quite some distance away but the expansive meadow would make for speedy hiking. Still, you’d only get to the wild campsite at the base of Sheba by the end of the day.
We considered returning the north route around the crumbling mountain but could not see an obvious trail down the very steep north slope – so better the route we knew and we’d already picked out a better way through the chute.
We arrived back at Spruce Lake having not seen anyone for the whole day. Hot and sweaty, we had a nice swim in the lake. We then chilled out for a while away from the mosquitoes before lighting a good fire and eating dinner.
Day 3 – Spruce Lake to Trigger Lake (or that was the plan! 20 km to Jewel Bridge instead)
It was a glorious morning and we got an early start for the hike up the valley to Hummingbird Lake and then Trigger Lake Unfortunately in a fairly innocuous meadow section the trail was hidden by grasses and Andy didn’t notice a drop off and went over on his ankle and landed in a heap. Having survived Sheba ridge it was a meadow that did for us! We hiked on for a short while but Andy was in too much pain and using his poles as crutches. We were actually a point where we could return down Gun Creek to Jewel Bridge – sadly we had to make that decision. A slow descent ensued.
We commiserated by stopping in Pemberton Meadows after driving the Hurley Road again. We picked up some great organic vegetables and fruit at the Helmer’s farm stand and then had a couple of beers at The Beer Farmers. We decided to stop at Zephr in Squamish for dinner. Disappointing to come home early, but still a good three days in the mountains away from the crowds.
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