VI’s Century Sam Lake

By far, one of the most memorable moments of the 2017 Summer, was my hike up to Century Sam Lake.

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Yes… the water really  is THAT blue!

This gem is located in Strathcona Provincial Park, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Although it is completely worth it to attempt this hike, it is not the easiest hike to get to. The trail head is located on the Comox Main logging road, which is owned by Timberwest Forest Corporation. The area is open to the public on weekends only; however, with the rising fire hazards in British Columbia, the gate can be closed at anytime. I recommend visiting the Timberwest Facebook page to check on the status of gates before attempting the trip.

Once you pass the gate hurdle, you go down the logging road until you hit a bridge which will be followed by signage for Cruickshank Main. Turn right onto this main. Follow the road until you come across a fork in the road. Then turn left onto the road that is signed “East Fork Main”. After about 5 minutes of driving, there will be small signs for the Comox Glacier trailhead. Comox Glacier and Century Sam Lake have the same trailhead so continue to follow these signs. Our truck began to struggle about 2km from the trail head, as the logging road is full of deactivation ditches. We parked 2km away from the trail head and walked the road. The trail head is very noticeable and well marked. You will cross over the river and come across 2 signs. One sign points to the Century Sam Lake Trail and one points to the Comox Glacier Trail. Once on the trail, the path is beaten and easy to follow. The trail is not maintained like the rest of Strathcona Provincial Park.  The trail is full of roots and requires some bush whacking. Watch your step on the trail and be prepared.

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The hike is about 8km from the trailhead and took about 2 hours each way. Leave lots of time to spend at the Lake!

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If you can manage to find a way to cross over the river flowing from the lake, go check out the rock cairn and snow caves on the other side.

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The water was still high in mid July, so in order to cross the river, we removed our hiking boots and walked through the water. The water is so cold that my water obsessed Spring Spaniel didn’t even go for a swim.

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Just look at her unimpressed face…

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REMINDER: Please be respectful of the wildlife and ecosystems. Pack out everything you packed in and take nothing but memories!

Strathcona Provincial Park: Kwai Lake

Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is jaw-dropping beautiful. This Summer I have done two trips out to the park, one to Forbidden Plateau and one out to the Battle Lake Area. The Kwai Lake Loop is is located in the Forbidden Plateau and is moderate day hike spanning approximately 15-16km. The hike takes roughly 5 hours depending on speed and the number of breaks taken. The lake has a number of campsites surrounding it that give incredible views to mountains like Mount Albert Edward.

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The hike starts from the Mount Washington Access of Strathcona Provincial park and trails through Paradise Meadows, a very touristy section of the park, which consists of flat and boarded walkways.

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Moving past paradise meadows, the Battleship Lake Loop will take you up to Lake Helen Mackenzie. Instead of following the rest of the Battle Lake Loop, continue onto Kwai Lake.

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This is the Forbidden Plateau Ranger Station ft. my little springer spaniel, Gypsy. The Ranger Station is a neat place to stop for a quick snack.

fullsizeoutput_1170The Frobidden Plateau Ranger station from the trail.

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Parts of the trail in early July still had snow on the ground. I was not prepared to go up to Kwai Lake as I thought I was only doing the Battleship Lake Loop. Runners were not the best choice of footwear, my feet were very wet and muddy by the end. Be prepared!

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Taa-daa! Kwai Lake! Look at that back drop!

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Gowland Tod Provinical Park: Jocelyn Hill

Calling all VI’ers!! This moderate hike is beautiful. From McKenzie Bight in Gowland Tod Provincial Park, it is about a 5 hour trip spanning 14km. Not only is there one AMAZING view at the end but there are several views along the way, which deserve a “runner up” title.

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Directions: The trail is very well marked. All you need to worry about is getting to the trail head. The trail head and parking lot are located on Ross-Durance Road in Victoria, BC. Approximately 200 meters down the road is a big parking lot with washrooms and maps. Continue 300 meters, by foot, down the road and you will come across a yellow gate. This is the trail head. From there, everything is very straight forward and signed. You are mainly looking to stay on the Timberman Trail.

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Use common sense, follow Markers, and avoid paths that are intentionally blocked off by logs and you will make it to your destination without a hitch.

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TIP: Stop at the Squally Ridge viewpoint which is on the way to Jocelyn hill and about 30 seconds off the track. Make sure to pack water, snacks and a first aid kit. We had a tumble down a hill when our foot was caught in a root.

Note: Please be respectful of the wildlife and ecosystems. Pack out everything you packed in and take nothing but memories!

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Christie Falls

Christie Falls is one of Ladysmith’s not-so-hidden treasures, that is an easy 2 hour round trip walk and hike. The trail follows a well maintained logging road for 2.5km and is perfect for a bike ride; however, bikes will need to be left at the start of the trail head going up to Christie Falls.

Directions: To get to the Christie Falls trail, turn left at the end of Christie Road in Ladysmith, BC and park by the orange gate. The trail starts just past the Orange gate, through a yellow gate on the right. You will need to follow the logging road that heads to the Bush Creek Fish Hatchery. Walk 2.5km down the logging road, while following the signage to the hatchery. Once at the hatchery, a map and signage directs you up a trail, opposite to the hatchery. After a 7-10 minute hike, you will come across a waterfall, that is occasionally dried up. Continue the trail over the log bridge, to reach the real magic. Christie falls has plenty of room to admire the falls and have a quick snack.

Tip: Once done, return back on the trail and turn right almost immediately to the rope that assists for a climb to the top of the waterfall. Many smaller waterfalls await at the top. On your way back down, follow the signage that says “trail” on your right, and you will come across a log cabin that is only a minutes walk off the “falls” path.

Note: Please be respectful of the wildlife, ecosystems and fish hatchery. Pack out everything you packed in and take nothing but memories!