Fondly remembering our foray into the mountains back in February, we decided it was time to see the mountains in the summer and to climb Mt. Becher, which we declined to do because very low lying clouds obscured all views that day.
So we booked a couple nights in the Courtney area, about 1.5 hr north, to explore more of Strathcona Provincial Park.
Mt Becher (1390 m): 12 km and 700 m elevation gain.
This was a hard one for us but so worth it. The challenge is that the elevation comes in two main chunks. The first is an initial climb up the old ski hill of over 200 m in 1.4 km. That got our hearts pumping. Then a pleasant walk through a plateau with some gradual elevation gain and then the last assault of about 300 m in just over 2 km. This climb was reminiscent of some Adirodack climbs (without the mud). Lot of roots to climb up and over, lots of rocks, some hand over hand and a couple places where we needed a rope to get up over the rock. So it was a challenge but fun.
The descent was just as hard because the footing was very precarious. If we were not avoiding the roots, we were scrambling over loose rocks of various sizes since a big chunk of it was down an abandoned steam bed. Thank goodness for poles – they helped stablize on the dry, loose earth and stones and helped us down the large steps between roots and trees.
It was interesting walking the paths in summer, where in winter, we would have been about 6-7 feet higher on the snow pack with all the low bushes and smaller trees covered. And green and brown is very different than white snow everywhere!
Mt Becher is not a really high mountain, but once we summited, we were amazed at the 360° views and a small patch of snow! We could see toward Courtney on the coast and across the strait to the mainland, down to Comox Lake, and all the snow-capped mountains in Strathcona Park around us. It was just beautiful.
We were pretty tired at the end of they day but happy to be back in the mountains with just a great reward. We realized that at home in the ‘valley’ we have wonderful hills, not really mountains!
Looking at the map of Strathcona Park we saw Buttle Lake, about 23 km long and 1.5 km wide. There are many marine campsites along the shore and so the wheels started turning: “Could we do a freshwater camping trip on Buttle Lake?” So with tired legs from the day before, we did a car tour along the shores of Buttle Lake as a scouting mission with a couple short hikes to waterfalls along the way.
What a beautiful drive. The lake is big and could get some good winds on it, but it would be a treat to paddle on it among the mountains. After the couple of short hikes, we had lunch on the shore, drinking in the snowy peaks around usLife was good!
This area has so much to offer. Of course it’s popular in the summer and campgrounds fill up quickly so likely do the more remote marine campsites (although we didn’t see a boat of any kind on the water) so we may have to do it in offseason, but it’s on our to-do list now for sure.