I had a 7:30 am start from the empty parking lot. The temperature was already 15*C but I had no idea how it would be like up on the ridge so I had packed my longjohns and down vest in case. The start of the trail is becoming more overgrown each year and there is a lot more dead-fall across the trail compared to last year. There was 9 fallen trees across the trail and several required a bit of effort to scramble over since my legs aren't that long. It's also more challenging to climb over a tree trunk on the uphill compared to heading down.
My pack felt quite comfortable. I don't bother weighing it anymore to see how much I'm carrying since I don't see the point but for just an overnight backpack the food sack is lighter. Everything else remains the same since I basically carry the same equipment.
The problem with the warmer weather now is that I can't bring perishable food. I'd like to bring peanut butter for the extra calories but once the container is opened, it requires refrigeration.
Everytime I stopped for a rest break in the forest, after a few minutes, a horde of black flies and other pesky flies fly around my head and some black flies get behind my glasses. What a nuisance. There was the odd mosquito which I find quite aggressive since they waste no time landing on the face to bite. At least with black flies, they do more flying around than landing.
Pinesap in the forest
I took a break at the only creek in the forest which was fed by an underground spring. The flow of water had reduced to a trickle but at least there are several sizable pools which provide cold drinking water. Further up from this water source, the trail takes a small dip then rises again. Lying in a small depression was a couple of small snow patches. They looked out of place because there is no snow around until further up near the open ridge top. Large patches of snow began about a couple of hundred feet before the lower ridge.
I was getting hungry and needed a rest so I didn't bother making it up to the ridge but stopped just before it and found a small creek running over a boulder. I followed that to its source; a cold pool of water fed by a patch of snow. I rested in the shade, gathered water and filtered it.
The food gave me much needed energy but my legs felt quite tired. I had planned to hike up to the top of the upper ridge which is the high point but I gave up that idea and decided to camp at the lower ridge at one of the areas that I had pitched my tent in the past. There was still a fair amount of snow in the gully leading up to the ridge but on the ridge itself most of the snow had melted and a few patches remained. In the distance, the slope which led to the very top of the ridge was completely snow covered.
Snow covered ridge top in the distance
A lot of bushes which had just emerged from the snow are in the budding stage only. It will be a short season for them to green up with leaves. There are smaller trees bent completely over and partially buried under the weight of the snow. Once the snow melts enough, the trees will spring back up and straighten out. I've seen trees spring back up once the snow has melted enough to release the tension from being bent in half.
Flower Ridge is living up to its name as there are lots of spreading phlox ranging from blue, purple to white in color. Lupines have not flowered yet but I did see a Paintbrush and Pinesap down in the forest.
The heat from the sun was wearing me down and so were the black flies. I hadn't taken a single shot from my camera since the sun was directly overhead and too bright. I spent the time seeking some shade and finding a good place to store my food bag away from my tent. I hung my bag over a cliff which is the most secure place for any animal.
There are a couple of tarns close to where I camped; one is mostly frozen over and the other has a snow patch rimming the east side of the water. There was a lot of dead insects, leaves and other debris floating on the surface of the water so I collected clean water running off from one of the snow patches near the cliff. There is one flat ground beside the tarn which was mostly clear of snow and what got my attention was the illegal firepit someone had built of rocks. I dismantled the firepit and tossed the rocks away but the ashes look unsightly.
A small tarn mostly frozen over
A stiff wind blew most of the afternoon and evening and a blanket of clouds drifted by. It felt a bit chilly with the sun behind the clouds and the wind blowing. Also, the daylight sure dimmed a lot without the sun. It almost looked as if it might shower so I pitched my tent and did so at the same spot as I had done a couple of years ago.
Last year, when I went on a day hike up Flower Ridge, there was a pile of bear droppings right at the site where I had pitched my tent. So far, the only signs of bears was some day old droppings along the trail in the forest. I didn't spot any footprints in the snow around the area.
Cooking my supper away from camp
I went inside the tent at 8:30 pm and lay about in the sleeping bag since I was tired and with the clouds around I doubt it would be a good sunset anyways. In addition, I was safe from the pesky black flies and mosquito. Not long after 9 pm, I took a peak out of the tent and saw the clouds slowly turning a pink-red color so I got my camera and headed out for a shot of Mt. Myra. The color intensified to a deep red color and I scrambled around looking for nice reflections on the water nearby. I was quite happy with the way the photos turned out. This was one of those rare unexpected moments which just happened. Normally, I would have my camera set up waiting for sunset and most of the time nothing dramatic happens but this time I actually felt too sleepy and almost dozed off in my tent. Just lucky I took a peak outside.
Looking down to Buttle Lake from where I started my hike.
Mt Myra during the evening sunset
Perhaps the best shot I have taken of sunset in Strathcona Park
I used a cheap prime lens which was a 28mm wide-angle and because of the restricted angle of view, I had to walk backwards to get more of the scene in view. Kind of inconvenient compared to a zoom lens.
The wind eventually died down and the night remained warm enough. That prevented condensation from forming on the inside walls of the tent. The light started to fade around 10 pm. The night sky was clear with stars and the orange lights from the Myra Falls Mine seems out of place below in the valley.
The day started to get light around 4:30 am and that is when various sounds of nature stirred. A bee was makings its rounds to the flowers nearby, a grouse was heard close by and the birds were singing. I went to get my food bag and noticed that the snow patch was quite solid and more slippery. The sun came up over the mountain ridge by 6 am and I slowly packed up then made my way down the mountain by 7 am. My pack felt just as heavy as when I first started probably because I were tired. I heard this bird singing and its melody is recognizable even around the forest in Campbell River but I've never seen what type of bird was making such nice sounds so I stopped to observe. It wasn't long before the bird flew to a nearby tree and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was tiny; like the size of a hummingbird. Back at the small creek in the forest, I went to the viewpoint which was mostly blocked by tall trees and sat there for a break. I heard the sound of grouse again. I really enjoy the sounds of nature compared to the noisy street traffic where I live.