Beyond Elfin Lakes

Upon seeing the trip post with the title “Beyond Elfin”, I was immediately intrigued. What is it like back there? I heard that the initial plan was to camp on night 1 of 3 at Mamquam Lake, explore and camp again at Mamquam Lake on night 2 then return to the parking lot on day 3. Upon looking at a map, I immediately decided on attempting Mamquam Mountain on day 2 with me being a peak hungry scrambler. Unfortunately no one else had the same idea. It involved plenty of up and down and bushwhacking and crossing a creek that I had no idea of the levels. On day 2, first thing I decided was that I wouldn’t be able to cross the ice field between me and Mamquam peak so I reduced my objective to a sub peak. Around 8 AM, I finally decided to forget about Mamquam Mountain sub peak and stay with the group and explore down to Mamquam Lake (which no one ended up camping at on night 1 and 2 … details below) and some ridges west of Mamquam Lake based on the fact that it would not be good to climb alone and there was a good chance the river would be uncross-able because ring creek was about as much as I could handle.

voc members hiking towards Elfin Lakes

on break past Elfin Lakes towards Ring Creek

Ring Creek, Opal Cone top right corner

fording Ring Creek

Viking Ridge, a neat looking scramble but very far away, looking north from trail to Mamquam Lake

Zig Zag Creek, campsite for most of the group for day 1, with three of us deiciding on whether to camp with the others in view or to continue and camp on the next ridge. Ben and Simon camped slightly east of the next ridge, there were plenty of good campsites close to the next ridge.

Garibaldi and I morning day 2

Mamquam sub peak from campsite

Garibaldi from ridge between Mamquam Lake and Zig Zag Creek

start of morning scramble day 2

objective: walk along the ridge

scramblers on the ridge, Viking Ridge in the background

Garibaldi clouds over as we make the ridge

nice shots

Down from the ridge scramble to Ben and Simons campsite, having lunch before our descent to Mamquam lake (down and to the left). Pyramid Peak in the background (if you have a map handy), a very difficult scramble with some nice steep snow slopes tremendously exposed.

on the way down to Mamquam lake

Mamquam lake

After Mamquam Lake, we returned to a beautiful patch of alpine grass near the Opal Cone to camp for night 2. Two of us decided on not climbing Opal Cone and we set up camp early.

On day 3, we all decided to return to the parking lot early. The hares left the tortoises behind, I joined the hares and we made it back to parking lot in three hours (by my guerilla math) and we drove off.

Quite a trip.


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4 Responses to Beyond Elfin Lakes

  1. Maki Sumitani says:

    Thanks for organizing the trip, Roland, and thanks everyone for making the trip amazing! We lucked out with the “perfect” not too hot, not too cold weather the whole three days. I’m filling in Ben’s report with some of my memorable stories.

    The car to Red Heather, to Elfin, past Opal Cone, across the patch of snow, and down the ridge towards Mamquam Lake. This came to about 20km of hiking in one day. It might have been an easy trail, but for someone who has found 7km a comfortable summer hike and 12km a suffering hike, that distance was quite an achievement! And I wasn’t even exhausted—maybe my heel lost in the fight against my boots in the first 2.5km but my spirit was tempted to go further, closer to the Lake even after 20. And add to that a fun challenge of crossing Ring Creek! Everywhere I thought I found a path or rocks, there was a gap of whitewater where I couldn’t see how deep the creek was. Still, it looked doable and I’m glad everyone else was keen.

    The second day when we split into two groups, Carla, Jamie, and I got to the ridge to get a spectacular view of Mamquam Lake, and achieved our goal of getting up the “peak” on the opposite side where the other group headed. I quite enjoyed Carla’s game of tracing the scenery to find where we came from and where we are headed. As we were waiting at camp we also tried to piece together the “puzzle” of who the specks of color are coming down the ridge. “Bright blue at the front is Art! Riley is green, Anna has a small red pack, black near the front should be Ross, Simon had shorts, Ben had a helmet…” Phillipe and Rueben were a bit confusing with their broad hats and white shirts but we figured it out before they arrived at camp!

    On the way back, I cross a creek and set my pack down to get a drink of water. I suddenly hear Roland shout “ER – ROORR” in the tone he always says. I turn around and see Ross’s arms fly and him spin in the air. Despite that he saves everything except his boots and the bottom layer of his pack from the reach of the creek water.

    Even in the “tortoise” group, the long weekend return traffic our car group encountered was cleared in 10minutes, and we were back to Vancouver 2 hours ahead of schedule.

    Awesome way to spend the long weekend!

  2. Ben Heaps says:

    I don’t know if you can add photos in a reply, if possible please add more photos, or provide an online link to your photos if you publish them online

  3. Roland Burton says:

    Carla’s Trip report 001: Beyond Elfin

    I found our long weekend trip to Mamquam and back to be great and enjoyed everyone’s company very much. The old jeep road was easy to travel on with a pack and we chewed up the kilometers at a good pace. We had only one glitch in our progress when we lost Jaimie for about half an hour.
    We were informed by our mole in the BC Parks branch that the bridge across Ring Creek was not put in this year. So we packed a rope, water walking footwear, poles and put all our possessions in waterproof plastic. When we got to the first creek, it was so easy; just hop onto one rock in the middle of the stream and walk two steps on a 2×4 and you are on the other side. This wasn’t Ring Creek. We get to Ring Creek and everyone starts packing their boots and socks into their packs and donning their sandals and wet suit socks and nurse’s shoes. The two guys holding the rope across the creek even wore helmets for good measure. People started to gingerly make their way across the creek, one by one.
    Shoes and poles were flying back and forth across the creek as people needed these pieces of equipment. Finally, everyone was across and as we dried off and put our boots back on we had a celebratory treat. We missed the trail and just headed straight up the steep bank. When we reached the jeep road once again, we met quite a few day trippers coming back from their excursion to the Opal Cone. They had no poles, no boots, no packs and no helmets. Did we exhibit a bit of overkill with our creek crossing. I can’t say, but this was the first time I used a rope to cross a pretty strong and fast flowing creek and I enjoyed the element of danger. It made the whole trip just that much more exciting.
    The real water danger was with the water bladders. When that mouthpiece detaches from the tube you can get a full body shower while trying to find the end of the tube or,alternatively, your pack can suddenly become an aquarium. But that’s another story.
    We continued on towards Mamquam through spectacular country which we now know looks uncannily like what we see on Mars. Made camp about a kilometer or two away from the lake. It was a quiet night – virtually no snoring and no snaffle hounds trying to steal the food.
    Next day people were going this way and that way and roaming all over the place. Mamquam Lake sparkled in the sun and a couple of people braved the chilly waters for a quick dip. Mamquam the mountain, was magnificent. After a short nap we packed up camp and headed back to the Opal Cone. We climbed up to the rim on a pretty gnarly path. I can give you all the geological details about the extinct volcano but you should really go see it for yourself because it is just too cool for words. Set up camp at the base of the Opal Cone. It was a pretty relaxed evening. The trip out was pretty straight forward and made it back into town with plenty of daylight to spare.

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