Nodoubt Peak – Intro to Advanced Bushwhacking – Oct. 26/27 2019
In the dark, early hours of Saturday, three vehicles roamed through the city collecting their sleepy-eyed passengers. At 6am traffic is noticeably better when cross the Fraser River than at any other time, ensuring that everyone – both the drivers and those who instantly feel asleep – were incredibly happy. As dawn broke the three units converged together in Abbotsford and quickly made towards south of Chilliwack. Winding up on the Chilliwack Lake Road it didn’t take long for smooth, blessed asphalt to give way to coarse gravel. Pushing higher and higher into the mountains all were now awake as no amount of shut-eye was worth trading for the wonderful views of the tall trees, the dominating mountain peaks, and the Ford Mountain Correctional Centre for. The three now slowly rolled along a path which was more boulders and blow-outs than road, but by around 9am they were stopped just before the final bridge by large, imposing concrete barriers. And it is here where our thirteen adventures, now deep within the forest, departed from their shuttles, and with gear in tow, marched south towards their goal of Nodoubt Peak. The bushwhack had begun.
Actuaaaally, after the barriers the trail is still in great condition and it would still be a while before any bushwhacking was required. We walked along the old logging-road trail as it continued to follow parallel to Lake Chilliwack. Soon enough the trail finds its way to the south end of the lake and a nice sandy beach with a wonderful view.
The fun really began just south of the lake at the mouth of the river. The trail was now less maintained – still somewhat visible on the ground and with the occasional, faded ribbon on the branches, we encountered several sections of trail that ran through clumps of marshy spots and slapping-willows. You whack the bush, it whacks back. Still, at this time of year it with no foliage, it was easy to spot better detours around some of the trouble spots.
With Hannah in the lead and J.P. sweeping behind, our little gang made its way through the trees taking in the pristine forest views. In an effort to save time, we moved off trail in straight-line towards the direction of our campsite. After all, it was past noon at this point and were not yet halfway to Nodoubt Peak. With plans to make camp first, then scale the peak all before nightfall, well you could say we were pressed for time. Veering away from the river we continued south on a trajectory that would surely land us back on the trail. After sometime pushing through the trees, we saw just past the ridge in front of us how they gave way to a clearing. But it was no river, we discovered after scrambling up, but a cut line maybe 20 feet wide running up and beyond the mountain face to our left, down the valley to our right, and all the way up the mountain to the west until the cut disappeared with the trees. Funny how America just pops up like that eh?
With a bit of spiral-searching around swampy spots we eventually found our way back to the river and a nice rocky beach. Realizing how short on time we were, the call was made: make camp near the river, about halfway to our intended campsite, and to scrabble up along the cut line to finish the day. With tents up and gear packed away we headed back east to the line. Moving in and out of the trees we slowly made our way up – in some places climbing the sheets of rock in our way. Certainly with the daylight left we didn’t make it to any peak, yet after a couple of hours we discovered an old log platform on the edge of the cut that yielded a wonderful spot to take in the views of the valley.
After some snacking and watching the sun dart towards the peaks in the west, we started the process of climbing/sliding down back to camp. With some light left we begin our suppers on the rock beach and gathered what dry wood we could find. We finished the day with a small yet satisfying fire, sharing stories of previous adventures and taking in the majesty of all the stars of the clear and moonless night sky.
There were good intentions for the morning, oh yes. A few had planned to take in a morning hike west of the camp, finding a way across the river and touring up along a mountain stream. Yet it turned out that the previous days scrambling took more out of us than we thought. By the time everyone was up (*cough Hannah cough*), the gear was packed, and JP had his pancakes, we simply decided to head out. Funnily enough, the campsite was very close to the original trail and may even have been shorter on our way out than our shortcut on the way in. With clear weather we followed the river north, eventually meeting up with where we split off the day before, and made it back to the lake. After a quick dip in the lake we made our way to the vehicles. With a quick Tims stop in Chiliwack, the three vehicles went their separate ways back to the city, back to procrastinated assignments and the Monday-morning blues.
All-in-all it was a fantastic way to spend the weekend outside of the city with some wonderful people. Would definitely recommended it for future trips. You’ll likely want to give yourself more time – perhaps three days – if you plan to make it to Nodoubt Peak. You may want to also bring a roll of ribbon to touch-up the trail.