I did an overnight backpack to Landslide Lake along the familiar Elk River trail in Strathcona Park at the end of May. My left knee was still a bit sore and I wanted to keep this as a low elevation hike since the nights are still quite cold higher up the mountain. Another reason for doing this as an overnight hike is that there is no backcountry camping fee until mid-June so I saved $10.
When I arrived at the parking lot just before 7:30 am, there were 2 vehicles here. There was a motorhome but it appears the occupants were using this as an overnight stop.
My pack wasn't as heavy as previous backpacks so the hiking was too arduous but I had a long ways to walk to the campsite. I hiked at a more relaxed pace since there was a slight ache in my injured knee and still made good time. On the way, I didn't bother to take any photos at all since the sun was shining and creating a lot of harsh lighting. In addition, I've taken a lot of photos along this trail already. At some of the fallen trees across the trail, people have been making their own detour route which I followed and found it easy going to detour around a few major deadfalls.
There is enough space for me to crawl through
There was one tent on the gravel flats at Butterwort camp otherwise the place was empty. I didn't bother to stop but kept on going to the second campsite. There was one small creek in the forest where I had to take off my boots and wade the shallow water. It's a bit of a slowdown and nuisance to dry my feet and put on my boots. I met a young couple with a dog coming back down the trail. They mentioned they had spotted a bear around the gravel bar near the river close to the second campsite.
I stopped to eat lunch where water tumbled down from a cliff. It wasn't into eating my lumch when a couple of people who were running the trail, stopped to take a break. They told me, they had hiked Flower Ridge the day before. I asked them about the snow conditions and they mentioned there wasn't very much except at the very high point. Considering that trail is very steep and now they are jogging this trail to Landslide Lake for 11 km one way, they must be in really good shape.
A small waterfall cascades down a rock face along the trail
When I saw the food cache box and pit toilet, I knew I had reached the second campsite which is further along down the trail. Unlike the first campsite where the toilet and food cache is on level ground, this one requires a short walk up the hill. There was no one at the second campsite so I had a lot of choices on where to camp.
The rather spacious campsite
I settled on pitching my tent in the partially open forest instead of near the river on the gravel bar which was too bumpy. It should be a bit warmer in the shelter of the forest and the ground is more level. Even though the ground was dirt, I had to struggle a bit in getting the tent stakes in because there was a lot of small rocks underneath. I unloaded my pack of non-essentials then made my way to Landslide Lake. Funny thing is that my pack didn't feel too much lighter. On the way, I bumped into the same park staff that I met a week ago except he was without his partner. Apparently, he is making regular patrols of this trail and also the Bedwell Lake trail which is a good thing. I chatted with him for a while then headed to the lake. He did a nice job in clearing some of the encroaching bush along the trail. I remembered getting completely soaked last year walking through moisture laden bush because it overgrew the trail.
The lake level was higher and part of the path which led closer the shoreline was muddy and flooded in places. The sun was directly overhead and prevented me from taking photos so I waited until it disappeared over the mountain. In the meantime I rested in the shade of the bush and filtered water. A thin blanket of clouds had moved in and filtered out the sun a bit. In the shade, it was a bit cool when the wind blew. Every once in a while, blackflies would pester me then they would disappear. So far, no mosquitoes yet.
I wandered around the area and discovered an illegal fire-pit with a stock of cut branches. I scattered the branches in the bush and tore the fire-pit apart. The black ashes look unsightly. There is a sign along the trail at the second campsite which prohibits camping at Landslide and Foster (Iceberg) lake but obviously people seem to ignore that.
Landslide Lake and Mt. Colonel Foster
The sun had gone down behind the mountain by 6:30 am and the air chilled down a bit so I slowly made my way down and photographed a couple of waterfalls along the way. I stopped in at the creek which comes down the valley from Rambler creek before making my way back to camp.
I put my food bag inside the Food Cache then wandered around the campsite which was still deserted. Funny to have the pit toilet located near the Cache.
I decided to wear my longjohns and light down jacket inside my sleeping bag. Even though my down bag is rated to 0*C, I still feel cold when the temperature drops to around 5*C. I tried to fashion a pillow by stuffing clothing into a sack but it wasn't soft enough to be comfortable. The day was still reasonable light until 10 pm and around that time the birds stopped singing.
I didn't see any stars in the sky when I got out to relieve myself. The day started getting light around 4:30 am and that is when the birds resumed their singing. It was welcome noise and being inside the tent works like a blind since the birds were quite close to the tent. I had to use the pit toilet and I hated the fact that I had to walk uphill to reach it since my legs felt kind of stiff.
I collected water from the creek and hung the bag and attached the filter. Compared to my Katadyn pocket filter where I have to pump the water through the filter element, this one works by gravity. The flow rate is quite high and I can filter water with no effort.
I hiked out around 7 am taking my time. I noticed things in the forest which I hadn't observed before since I spent more time looking and less time hiking. There was a tree along the trail in which a fungi grew; this one had a diameter in excess of one foot.
There is this tree growing on top of a boulder situated near another boulder
I reached the Butterwort campsite and saw the park staff packing up. He is on his way to check out Bedwell Lake. I mentioned to him about the two firepits at Landslide lake which he was unaware of.
I continued on my way and felt quite tired and hungry even though I was only about 20 minutes or so from the parking area. I stopped along the gravel bar at Elk River and rested there. I could have fallen asleep, I was so tired. I ate my lunch and rested for an hour before hiking out; that seemed to restore my energy.