A Suprisingly Sunny September Saunter to the Spectacular Rampart Ponds

For ten VOCers (Matthew Drenth, Alastair Nicholson, Haven Barr, Patric Berard, Ana Clara Feldman, Anabel Buechner, Chloe Garzon, Jerome Bernard, Cabrinha Clark, and Miranda Clark) this trip began like all other adventure trips, with a large amount of chaos very early in the morning.

Matthew, our trip leader, texted at 5:50 a.m. that he was going to be 15 minutes late. For his car group, this was a great relief (15 more minutes of sleep!), but for my car group, we were ahead of schedule. Patric had texted that he would in fact be early to meet at Cabrinha’s house. Cabrinha (my sister) and I hurried and made our gourmet avocado sandwiches and much-needed coffees (after very little sleep), so we were running out the door when Patric arrived. We stood in the dark outside Cabrinha’s house awaiting Haven’s imminent arrival. He did not arrive. We waited longer until we decided to call him. He did not answer.

Now we had concluded that he was probably asleep and were debating whether we should just leave or wait a little bit longer when he called back. In a very cheerful voice for being late, he just said, “Hey good morning what’s up” to which I replied, “Are you almost here?”. Unfortunately, Haven had thought the trip was the next day (on Saturday), which was fair enough, what weekend trip starts on a Friday morning? Haven said he could be ready to go in 10 minutes (without any previous preparation) and could bus from UBC and meet us closer. We were debating how late this would make us when Matthew texted that he had somehow already gotten a flat tire…

Without much questioning, we decided this would give us enough time to pick up Haven. Meanwhile, Al (our other passenger) was waiting at his pickup location down West Broadway, so we decided to grab him first. We drove until we found a young-looking guy with a huge backpack and decided he was the one to kidnap while at a red light. We rolled down the windows and told him to get it, which he did without any hesitation before the light turned green. Then we sped to UBC to pick up Haven. He jumped in and we were off! Only an hour behind schedule…

As we drove out of the city the sun was BLINDING me on the road and I am sure every one of my passengers was regretting risking their life in my car as I drove without being able to see a thing. Luckily Haven had some fancy sunglasses that solved most of the problems.


This beautiful photo as well as most of the rest were taken by Matt who carried his camera and tripod all the way up the mountain

Meanwhile Matthew’s car had been having chaos of their own. When Matthew’s car broke down near Ana Clara’s house, her wonderful parents had been kind enough to lend their car for the trip as no tire shops would be open for hours. Once the gear had been moved over, they continued their way picking up their other members not too far behind our group.

After a mandatory Tim’s stop in Squamish and a grocery store run for Haven, we headed up the trailhead to meet the others. We shared some introductions and began on the hike only a few hours behind Matthew’s schedule. As most people didn’t know each other on this trip it made for excellent conversations as we ascended to Red Heather—where we all pulled out our identical NoFrills trail mixes for a snack.





Then we continued on our way taking plenty of photos on this beautiful early September day.

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We made it to Elfin Lakes in pretty good time and decided to take a lunch break, fill our waters, and jump in the lake to cool off. Unfortunately for the Canadians, the water was pretty chilly, so we took our time getting in, but for Haven the Aussie (used to much warmer waters) it didn’t appear to faze him. After a lovely, long break and Matthew beginning to fret that we were falling behind our schedule, we took off to complete the final 10km of the hike.

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The next part of the hike we traveled out of the beautiful alpine forest and traveled into much more mountainous, volcanic terrain.  As our packs began to feel heavier hiking up the next mountain, we played Two Truths and One Lie in little groups. I found out Al was famous in Brazilian social media for an unfortunate bar encounter along with other interesting truths about others in the group.

At the top of a big ascent, we stopped for some faffing and more snacks, specifically jub jubs.



Next came the most painful part of the adventure: the river crossing. Due to high flooding levels from excessive glacier melt (climate change!!), a river crossing across a lake was required to reach Rampart Ponds. We met a British man named, Kai, who was hiking on his own and just tried to cross the lake, getting up to his waist deep before turning around. Near the end of the lake, closest to the rapids we decided would be our best bet so we de-shoed and began the crossing. Chloe, the bravest soul, crossed first balancing across the rocks with a heavy backpack. Not only was it slippery and tippy, but the water was the coldest I had ever experienced. The freezing temperatures BURNED our feet as we crossed so once we reached the other side, we all sat stunned by the temperature until we began to feel our feet once again. Chloe and Anabel danced to distract themselves while the rest of us shoed-up.

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We only had a few kilometers to go and made it to the campsite just in time to set up camp and have a photoshoot before the sunset.  

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20230915-DSC07666We sat together and shared our stoves and gas to make our various dinners. We ended up with an extra box of pasta, which despite being gluten-free was passed around to every hungry member of the group after such a big day. After dinner, interesting, deep conversations were had until some people decided to go to sleep

The stars were beginning to peek through by this point, and we were all starting to see Elon Musk’s starlink pollute the sky. As a first viewing for many in the group, we were startled, and it initiated a long conversation about the problems of the world. Sadly, we did not come to any solid world-saving conclusions. Al, Patric, Haven, Cabrinha, and I lay on the rocks and watched the stars, well mostly satellites, while Matt took beautiful starry sky photos on his camera.



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Now, getting late, we went to bed, bundling up as much as possible as the night was very cold!


In the morning each and every VOC’er, and our new friend Kai, sat together on the hill and enjoyed a wholesome sunrise, some of us still in our sleeping bags. We chatted about our strange dreams, laughed, and some did yoga before heading down to eat and pack up camp. 




After a typical few hours of faffing we left camp, but not before taking a fun group shots.


PHOTO-2023-09-17-08-37-04The hike out was beautiful. At the river crossing Anabel, Cabrinha, and I decided to walk around the lake instead to beat the unbearable coldness. Unfortunately, despite the detour, we still had a small river crossing to overtake. Luckily, we made it across and met up with the rest of the group who graciously waited for us to continue on our way.

Once we reached Elfin Lakes again, we took a lunch break, filled up our waters, and set off to finish the last 10km. At Red Heather, we stopped, and everyone tasted supposably the best gummies in the world.

For the final 5km Al, Haven, Patric, Cabrinha, and I played One-Word Story to pass the time on the endless winding trail. Just as our one-word story came to an abrupt and unfortunate end we reached the bottom of the trail to find some of the group there ready with high-fives. We waited for the others and celebrated together before saying goodbye as Ana Clara had to be back in Vancouver ASAP. My car group drove our new friend Kai to his bus stop, as he had walked all the way from Squamish to Elfin a few days previous.

Then we headed into Squamish for a much-needed happy hour dinner at White Spot, despite Matt and others hesitation in the quality of White Spot food.  After filling up on bottomless fries we drove into Vancouver singing all the hits before dropping off everyone at home.

The trip turned out to be an excellent success and for me the best VOC trip I’ve been on so far. Almost everyone didn’t know each other before the trip, but I think this made the trip even more fun as everyone was so open and excited about the adventure and the people we were adventuring with! As a first VOC trip for me this season. it excited me about the BC mountains and the cool people to adventure with here! There are many more stories to tell about this trip from others in the group so make sure to ask about the flat-tire debacle and more when you see the other Rampart Pond adventurists.





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One Response to A Suprisingly Sunny September Saunter to the Spectacular Rampart Ponds

  1. Nelson Fretenburg says:

    Sounds like a great trip. Lovely photos!

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