It’s been over a month since we backpacked out to the Tricouni area, but I’ve decided to write it up anyway. Interestingly, when converted to Covid time, a normal month is roughly equivalent to either 5 months or 5 days, depending on seemingly nothing at all, so this report is either very very late or right on time.
Anyway, by mid-July the unusual rain/cold spell had started to dissipate, giving us a window of beautiful weather. Our group, with reduced numbers due to pandemic, included myself (Isaac Borrego), Kyle Clarkson, Philippe Lebillon, Simon Holdsworth, Anna Symon, Erik Moore, and Josh Ma. Spaced out as best we could in separate trucks, windows open, we took on the very rough road to the trailhead in my Tacoma and Kyle’s Colorado. This road is not, to say the least, in great shape. I’ll admit that I was initially dismissive when told that the road was pretty bad; having explored extensively in the western US I felt like our roads must be in worse shape than most I’d encounter out in BC. This one, however, proved to be a good challenge for the Taco, though it did triumph in the end (as the Taco usually does). There are several areas of washout and high water bars to be navigated by future Tricouniacs, with a bit of pinstriping to add some nice character to a vehicle. Finally, over the last kilometer or so the road gets ugly. For this stretch the roadbed is composed mainly of medium-sized rocks, with not nearly as much actual road as we would have liked. I had already decided to pull off and park at the nearest opportunity by the time we finally rolled into the little parking lot at the trailhead.
Starting off from the trailhead with full sun shining down, we immediately realized what the next challenge would entail: mud. So much mud. Like the road, we had been warned about this. Unlike the road, I felt like the mud didn’t quite meet the dire warnings I had been given. In my opinion it would be best described as pretty annoying, but not quite as bad as advertised. In almost all places it’s possible to weave your way through the muddy sections. Though once I did miss and received a shoe full of mud, so care is definitely needed. Thankfully, the trail is really not that long, so after only about an hour and a half we found ourselves at the still partially frozen First Lake.
The lake also provided unobstructed views of our ultimate destination: Tricouni Peak (2,122 m).
After discussion with some other hikers on the way in, we had decided to continue past this lake and make our camp at the second lake a little higher up. After only another 15-30 minutes or so of hiking we found ourselves at the small but beautiful lake where we would try to make camp.
To our chagrin we found the main camp area was already inhabited by other backpackers. There was probably space available if we wanted to make friends, but we weren’t feeling super sociable and so set out in search of an alternative. After a bit of wandering around we found a spot that would make do for our several socially-distanced tents (tent-sharing was unfortunately out of the question).
After grabbing lunch at camp we decided the weather was too nice to waste and that a summit push was in order. So we set out to gain the ridge above the lake and start up the approach to Tricouni. With a bit of loose, muddy scrambling we arrived at the third lake of the day.
Not knowing what conditions to expect, most of us had brought ice axes. This turned out to be a good idea as there was still a lot of steep-ish snow above the third lake.
Not too long after this was when a bit of minor trouble started. Philippe and Kyle had gotten pretty far ahead, seemingly continuing up and to the right on the approach. I watched as a group of day hikers came down from a different side, to our left instead, and they confirmed to me that their route for sure went to the top. Checking my map I saw that there were two diverging approaches, so I assumed that the others knew what they were doing. Thus the rest of us followed to the right. However, the closer we got to the V-notch on the right side of Tricouni, the sketchier the terrain started to look.
We watched from below as Philippe and Kyle, along with a couple of other random hikers, veered away from the V-notch and up a seemingly dead-end snowfield.
They had pretty clearly reached a dead end. After a brief shouting match across the snow, the message was somehow relayed that they should come back down and reevaluate the situation. Meanwhile, the other non-VOC group also dropped back down and began scouting out a way to gain the ridge further to our left. Though it looked pretty cliffy, we saw them make their way up the ledges quite easily before giving us a signal that they were back on route.
Once we had regrouped we followed the other hikers and soon found ourselves scrambling up to the ridge. The cairn we discovered up there buoyed our spirits. Who knew a pile of rocks could spark such joy? Continuing up the ridge, we quickly arrived at the crux of the route.
Past the crux we found another yet steep snowfield. Then past that we found ourselves on the homestretch. With a teensy bit more exposure on the final ridge we all finally got to the top.
As far as peaks go, I would describe Tricouni as being very peak-y. Meaning that it feels pretty darn high up and separate from the surrounding mountains, with amazing views in all directions.
After the obligatory summit snapshots we sadly decided we would have to leave if we wanted to get back to camp that evening. The descent was much less anxiety-inducing as we took the real route down, but the abundant glissading kept things exciting! I very nearly lost my phone.
We soon found ourselves back at Reflection Lake, and boy did it earn the name:
After an unexciting last leg of the journey we arrived back at camp, tired and ready for dinner. We got a nice fire going, which seemed to help with the both the bugs and the general ambiance.
Anna, bless her soul, had brought marshmallows and so we stayed up fairly late eating s’mores and stargazing by the fire. Even comet NEOWISE decided to drop by for a bit.
A late night led to a late morning, as we debated what to do now that our main objective had already been accomplished. We decided that the best course of action was to explore a couple more lakes nearby before heading out. Pretty close to our camp we found the officially named Tricouni Lake. Dropping down to it we found quite a surprise:
Though it has since fallen off of its pedestal (probably due to snow drifts), this unique carving immediately drew our attention as we approached the lake. It can’t be all that old, but it must’ve taken a huge amount of time and effort to carve and move to this special location.
After appreciating this work of art (and the surrounding environs) we continued a bit further up to Seagram Lake.
Since the lake was frozen we decided to end the exploration there and grab some lunch before returning to camp.
The return to the trailhead was uneventful, but very hot. So hot out in fact that the ice we had seen in the first lake had vanished overnight.
In conclusion, I found Tricouni to be a worthy objective for anyone willing to brave 1) bad roads, 2) lots of mud, 3) lots of bugs, and 4) a bit of routefinding. The lakes along the way and the abundant views from the top make it absolutely worth the effort.