I went on my first hike with Vancouver’s hiking group, Wanderung. I loved it! Wanderung is a outdoor club with a couple of thousand(!) members. I signed up for their mailing list, and then quickly heard about a walk that I’d like to take part in. It was organised by a really sweet lady, Danica. As I don’t have a job yet, I could head south on Monday morning to meet her and go hiking! We were originally planning to climb a mountain over the US boarder, but as I’ve never been before, I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to enter with my UK passport. So, just to be safe, we headed to Golden Ears Provincial Park to explore Evans Peak. If you’d like to try the same walk, you can find a map and instructions for it here and a video about it here.
I woke up at ridiculous o’clock, even earlier than Marc needed to for work! I have mostly been exploring Vancouver on foot, so I am not very used to public transport here yet… But as I was meeting Danica in Surrey, I needed to take the sky-train followed by a bus out to what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Once I made it to our meeting place, I realised that neither of us knew what the other looked like! Eep. I was early, so I sat watching drivers faces as they drove in, to attempt to work out if they were looking for someone. This actually worked. When Danica arrived, she seemed to be looking for someone. When she saw I had hiking boots and trekking poles, she headed over to say hello.
This part of the world has taken sooo many place names from the UK. We drove through Guildford, in Surrey! It’s the Canadian version of the start of our walk along the North Downs Way, which also started near Guildford in Surrey(!) As it was just South of the city, this all felt totally normal to me. That is, apart from the part where you drive for less than an hour to find yourself in a lush, green provincial park!
Golden Ears Provincial Park is amazing! It used to be a logging area, so the there are excellent roads to the start of the hike, and to many other hikes if I can come back!! We needed to drive quite a long way into the park to the car park just below Evans Peak. There were quite a few cars there before us, and one other hiker who seemed to have just returned with his doggo.
There was a gap in the trees from the car park, so we got to see the spiky shape of Evans Peak, before we started. Neither of us had done this walk before, so we weren’t sure if what we had seen was actually the peak we’d climb! It looks more pointy from the side, and you can’t see the long ledge at the top like the photo above. It looked pretty impossible with a sheer rock face! We both figured we’d go as far as we could, and turn back if it became too hard.
The start of the walk is incredible. It is one of those areas where all the trees are covered in moss. We followed a sign to a “view point trail.” This path was well laid, not too steep and really easy to follow. After about 20 minutes we crossed a creek. Then, soon after that we turned off the main trail onto a steeper route with a handwritten sign to Alouette Mountain and Evans Peak.
This is where the walk started to get more difficult. We were climbing up this steep pathway for over an hour. It was quite a cool day, so there weren’t too many bugs, but we both ended up a bit sweaty. My legs were really starting to feel that happy-climbing burn so I stopped quite a few times to take photos of the trees!
Danica said that this path had been marked out by a Vancouver hiking club. They had left pink ribbons for us to follow, and they were easy to find. Every time we looked up wondering what was the best way, there’d be another pink ribbon to guide us.
Eventually we made it up onto a ridge where a little more light streamed through the trees. To my surprise, we could see the top of Evans Peak! We were over half way, but it is still quite an intimidating sight when your legs are already a little tired! From here the walk becomes marginally easier, curling around the mountain to head towards the main peak.
In the other direction we had a view of Alouette lake. Unfortunately the clouds had come in a little, so although we could see it through the trees, I couldn’t get a particularly good photo. Slightly higher up the ridge we also had a good view of a long waterfall.
Then we reached a wall(!) It wasn’t like one of those metaphorical walls that people hit when they run a marathon. It was just a large cliff face in the direction we wanted to go.
There was a sign that said “Wilderness Route Evans Peak”. It did seem like quite an epic route through wilderness! Luckily the pink ribbons came to the rescue, showing us the way. We needed to scramble up rock faces using tree roots like ropes to pull us up. I even had to hug a tree at one point as it was the only way to help me up the slope. This was easily the hardest part of the walk so far… and it made me a little nervous for the moment when we’d need to climb back down!
BUT despite the hard-core-ness of the walk, we made it! When we arrived at the top of Evans Peak, all the surrounding mountains were in the clouds, but we saw a few glimpses of a super spiky mountain, that I started to call Sharks-Fin Mountain. We sat down to eat and look out at the view, and slowly Golden Ears Provincial Park started to emerge from the clouds. The water down below is Alouette Lake. We made plans to swim in it while we ate lunch.
After we’d eaten, we decided to leave our bags and wander further along the top of Evans Peak. It turned out to be a really gorgeous ridge walk, but we had not actually made it to the top yet. Oops. It was good that we’d been confused though, as it meant by the time we’d visited the real peak, the amazing Edge Peak and Blanchard Needle (the one I had named Sharks-Fin Mountain) had emerged from the clouds. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the Golden Ears Mountain that the park is named after. Those clouds were just too stubborn.
There is a placard at the top that says this peak was named after a father and son who went missing in this area in the 60s. It is really sad that such a gorgeous peak has such a sad story behind its name. I hope they made it to the top to see all these views before they got lost.
Danica mentioned that there is a trail to the lower part of Edge Peak, and that you can climb up to explore snow caves in the summer. We could still see quite a lot of snow over there, and there were so, so many huge waterfalls swooshing their way down the cliffs. That must be another stunning area to explore!
Evans Peak was also quite full of heather and pretty flowers. We didn’t see many wild flowers on the way up the mountain as there is so little light for them beneath the trees. However on the rocky peak, flower roots seem to squish into any tiny space they can, providing an even prettier view and lovely fragrances.
We spent about 40 minutes at the top looking around, eating lunch and taking photos. But eventually we had to attempt the steep climb down. We had to go really slowly as the path was so steep and slippery. It’s always harder on the way down compared to the way up. This just meant we had to really concentrate. BC is really dry at the moment, but I imagine this would be even worse when the path is soggy. It wouldn’t be a good idea to attempt this in the rain!
I didn’t take too many photos on the way back down. I was concentrating so hard on not tripping or slipping! The path was quite dusty and slidy. I was incredibly glad for my trekking sticks!
It’s really interesting that you notice different things on the way down compared to the way up. This walk was the same route both ways, but somehow I noticed even more on the return journey, maybe because I wasn’t trying to catch my breath!? We found these cool flowers. I called them moss roses, but I have no idea what the really are. They were really small, about the size of a fingernail and some of them were a really vivid pink. Pretty aren’t they!?
Just over halfway down Danica mentioned that she was starting to have jelly legs. Mine were okay at that point, but a little later, I noticed my legs were shaky too. It is such a funny feeling when you have tired legs that decide to turn to jelly, just when you need them most! Anyway the steep section of the mountain did feel like it went on a bit longer than I expected! I was sooo ready for a dip in the lake!
We did make it down the steep section eventually. We could tell we were almost back down to the car park when we found ourselves back in moss-land. I love the way the moss on maple trees grows into these gorgeous arches. It all looks bright green, fluffy and beautiful.
So, we made it back to the car park. But, as were both warm and sweaty, the lake was calling us! I felt a few drops of rain. But it wasn’t enough to deter us from a cold splash in the blue-green water! We had meant to hike for an extra kilometre to the edge of the lake. But we found a small path that led to a beautiful section of river, so we dipped in there instead.
This looks beautiful right!? But ohmygoodness it was chilly! I dipped my legs in, just above my knees, then had to come back out because it was sooo cold! I went back in twice more and managed to let the water go above my hips…but I was still slightly too wimpy to actually swim! Maybe I could on a more sunny day, but woah glacial water is coooold! Danica was a hero and managed to dip her shoulders and head all the way in!
The amazing thing is, dipping into cold water really helped my jelly legs! They still felt a little tired, but I also felt like I could go on another hike. It must have done something, as although my legs did feel a little sore the following day, they were not even half as bad as after we climbed The Chief, even though this was far more elevation and a better workout!
So that was our challenging hike up Evans Peak. If you’d like to see a video about the walk, this is the one I watched before we left. The video uses a drone on a clear day, so that has even better views than we managed to see!
The organising queen, Danica, is on instagram. So if you’d like to see her other walks, you can find her here. 😀
Lastly, I found some amazing mushrooms along the walk. I wasn’t sure where to post them, so I’ll leave them at the end.