Wendy Thompson + Skook

The Plan We were to drive up to the trail and hike into the ACC Wendy Thompson Hut, aka Marriot Basin (close to Mt Rohr). Then after two nights at Hut, we were to drive to the hot spring and spend a night there.

Personnel Originally there was to be Ildi, her 9-year old son Atti, and Cora. But Cora said she was injured so she dropped out and was replaced with Elizabeth. I joined because I like hot springs and I like avoiding driving. Then Elizabeth dropped out because her sister needed knee surgery. In the end there was only Ildi, Atti, and myself and the Subaru.

Getting there At Pemberton I expected to dine at the McDonald’s but it was not to be. I have met people who can’t eat pork, people who can’t eat beef, people that can’t eat any meat that lactates, people that can’t eat any kind of meat at all, but I had never encountered people that can’t eat McDonalds. Anyway, we found a place called Grimms and Grimm food was OK.

We found the turnoff to the trail, which was just before the parking for the Keith Flavelle Hut, and we drove up to the Flavelle turnoff to verify that there was a large “Park Closed” sign because of the Joffre slide. We could have driven a ways further on the road to the trail but we didn’t want to hurt the Subaru and walking an extra 700m of road is not a biggie. The trail was easy to follow, with a few inconvenient logs to crawl over. We didn’t walk too fast so we could talk lots.

The hut The ACC huts are different from VOC Huts. With VOC huts they are officially emergency shelters, there is always room for one more, and payment for use is by donation. The ACC expects you to make a reservation and pay in advance, $20 per person per night. There was no lock on the door so it would probably be OK as an emeregency shelter. I hadn’t been to the hut for ten years, and it had changed a lot. Ten years ago there was a kerosene burning heater with no chimney, so you could choose between being cold, or breathing kero fumes. Now the hut is much longer (lengthened in 2015) and it has a wood-burning heater. We didn’t need the heater but it should be popular once the snow comes. Other things up there included many bowls, dishes, about ten frying pans, five botle openers, a propane stove with a one-pound propane bottle which didn’t work for us. Many golf balls; I do not know why the golf balls. Out in the rock gardens near the hut we found more golf balls. Trump? There are foam mattresses covered with some waterproof material, clean but not very comfortable. There was a huge can of instant coffee, coffee whitener, little packets of sugar, also pancake mix and maple syrup. You wouldn’t starve, but don’t count on any of that being there later. It looks like somebody has thrown a lot of money at the hut, and the people who did the work used power tools and knew what they were doing. Oh and solar lighting: our Brew and Harrison huts have one 5 watt panel each; this hut has three 300 watt panels and a bewildering array of wires and switches. It should be good in the winter. We had the place to ourselves for the first night, and on the second night there were three others besides us.

Outhouse A few years ago I was the go-to person for VOC outhouses so naturally I was interested. The outhouse has two seats, side by side. You might wonder if this was for some mating ritual, but no, one was for peeing and the other was for poop. Now this is not a good plan because researchers (and Bonnington on Annapurna South) have found that sometimes you aren’t sure whether you want to pee or poop, so errors get made. I don’t know where the pee goes, but the poop goes into 200 litre plastic barrels, and there are ten of these. Once the ten are filled a helicopter is ordered in to fly the 2 metric tonnes of poop somewhere, and it is loaded onto a flat-bed truck and taken somewhere else. Then the empty barrels are flown back to the hut. There was NO sign saying that toilet paper should be burned, and there was no charred toilet paper in a bucket. A sign said that female “sanitary supplies” were not to be included in the poop as they plugged the pumps. They were to be carried back home with you. I did not find out how long it takes the ACC to produce 2 metric tonnes of poop.

What to do at the Hut The weather was about perfect. We went for a nice walk through the extensive rock gardens up there. Atti claimed that he was a mountain goat in his previous life so he enjoyed this a lot. Back at the hut it was nap time, then it was card playing time, then we got bored, Ildi did some sweaty but successful wood splitting, then it was eating-time. We spent a while feeding mosquitoes and some black flies. Ildi claimed that she got 50+ mosquito bites on her feet at the hot spring but I don’t see how that is possible because they don’t bite under water. I found I was apologizing to the mosquitoes when I killed them “Sorry, I have to kill you” Is that a Buddhist thing?

Time to go down. Our packs were lighter and it was down hill, so soon we were driving to the hot spring. The attendant took our $27.50 + $15 for firewood and told us the place was not very full. Indeed there was maybe five cars. We put up our tents and retired to the “Pool of Solitude” One of the other people up there said that he didn’t realise that it was acceptable to be naked and he would give it a try next time he was up there. Eventually we got water-logged and went off to burn firewood and food, and then to bed.

What to do at the Hot Spring I find that it is an excellent place to talk philosophy and other stuff, and there’s usually somebody there to talk to. I prefer to get too hot and then wander around looking for another pool, either warmer, or colder, or with a better view, or whatever. After about an hour of this I need some dry time, and then more pool time. I find that others quickly find one perfect pool and just stay in it. Some tourists seem to not care about the hot springs at all and just spend the entire time in their tents. Anyway, we survived.

Finally, Friday I had already spent two hours in the pools plus an hour looking for my coffee when the others finally got up. We compensated for this by driving very fast on the gravel roads, and of course not stopping at McDonald’s We arrived at our Horseshoe Bay meeting place and then spent a couple of hours waiting for the ferry because the person we were supposed to be meeting had even worse time management skills. We bought ice cream for three of us for $18.00 Then we all went home.


Wendy Thompson Hut might be a good winter destination, probably mid-week with fewer crowds. You might want to avoid avalanches.

This isn’t the best time to visit hot springs; you want it to be colder so you appreciate the warm. But mid-week is good.

The cod-burger at A & W is very good, but I still find McDonald’s is OK, mostly for the cultural experience.

It’s very challenging combining a pack camping trip with a car camping trip.  You tend to bring way too much food and stuff gets lost in the car, sometimes for hours.

Thanks, Ildi, for driving.


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2 Responses to Wendy Thompson + Skook

  1. Jannu Casanova Moreno says:

    Haha. Another great Roland trip report. I enjoy your writing. Cheers from two countries south.

  2. Vincent Hanlon says:

    This is great. I’m not sure whether you’re being ironic with the McDonalds thing, but I guess I kind of agree somehow. Definitely more of a cultural experience (though much worse food) than Mt Currie Coffee. In southern Alberta I’ve found that A&W is the real cultural experience. All the local seniors go for breakfast, presumably because it’s cheap.

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