Mount Albert Edward

Mount Albert Edward Strathcona Park

In Photography, travel-photography by Bob Wild

Climbing Mount Albert Edward

Mount Albert Edward the 6th highest peak on Vancouver Island.
Time frame: three-day weekend, four-hour flight, 40 Kilometer hike, Elevation 2093 meters, (6867Ft). With four hours fishing trip before returning home.

The  flight

The trip started with a bang. I was ready to go by 07:30 am at the Winnipeg Airport prepared to catch the flight to Vancouver Island. Marve (best bud, and adventure partner) was almost late. Now he’ll say he had lots of time, but when the pre-boarding announcement came, well you know. So far he had not checked-in, and you know what security can be like. The question is “why was he late? Marve stopped for an espresso from Starbucks.

After a hop, skip and jump we landed at Comox. Backpacks in hand, ready for part two of the first day. Off for a quick visit with my father then an hour drive to the starting point at Mount Washington Ski Resort. It’s an awesome hike through paradise meadows. An easy start to the hike, as the meadows have boardwalks, accessible for everyone. From there it’s a little tougher walk to Lake Helen Mackenzie, where we will take our first of many breaks.

At the lake, we dropped our packs, broke out the snacks and water. It was not long before the whiskey jacks, a relative of the crow and jay family were visiting us, darting in and out. I have to admit as a kid hiking in these mountains with my Dad, I always had crackers for the birds. This trip was no different. I handed Marve some of my crackers, thinking he’d give them to the birds. What did he do? He eats them. Sigh!

feeding whiskey jacks on the way to Mount Albert Edward

feeding whiskey jacks

I responded, “Hold out you hand, with a cracker & wait.”
Marve replied, “Nope I don’t want a dirty bird in my hand.”
Me, “Marve!” Along with shaking my head, and a little snicker.
By this time, a few other hikers had stopped, and the small crowd, well shall we say, was egging him on.
Reluctantly, Marve held out his hand and fed the whiskey jacks.

The rest of the hike that day to Mount Albert Edward¬† was more or less uneventful. Just two old guys yammering back and forth about this and that. I have to admit. If you are going to do this trip, you better be in shape. There are a lot of ups, downs, switchbacks, climbing over fallen trees, hiking along and in river banks. All this just to get to the base camp. Then you still need to set up camp. Which is a story by itself …

Day two – to the top of Mount Albert Edward.

The day starts by literally dragging myself out of the sleeping bag. So SORE! Remember we traveled 4 hours by plane across two time zones, and hiked 12 kilometers.

mount Albert Edwards in strathcona park

Mount Albert Edwards

I’m first up, but I can hear Marve rustling. He crawls out of the tent wearing every stitch of clothing that he brought. He was cold, shivering, and asks, “Whats for breakfast?” I chuckle at him. He looks like a great big puff ball. Of course, there is no camera in my hand. I respond, “Oatmeal, almost ready.” He starts digging in the tent for his shoes, then I hear the 4 letter word “F*&^.” He notices that the sleeping bag is inside out. He had slept on the cold vinyl. In his defense, we did get to base camp at sunset. With breakfast done, and the camp back in order, we head out to meet our goal of getting to the top of Mount Albert Edward.

After a short walk from the campground, we hook up with the trail. Once on the main trail, it doesn’t take long before we are once again are climbing straight up, and I mean ‘UP!’ Often we were grabbing the tree roots, which sprout from beneath the rocks, to assist us in climbing upwards and on wards. It takes around 4 hours to get to the top, but what a view! OH WOW!

Totally breathtaking! Now, remember it’s only the halfway point, we still need to get back. We decide to take a different route, going to use the Castle Greg Trail. Now the trail is marked by Inuksuk, you know, the way the Eskimo’s mark their trails. But here is the issue, they are everywhere. Marve looks at me, I look at him and say, “Pick one.” So we’re off like a “heard of turtles” until we run out of markers. Yup, we’re lost. (Not really, I do have a GPS.) It takes about 20-30 minutes of looking, searching to find the next marker. Guess what. Yup! It’s straight up!

I point out the marker to Marve, his response, “Are You Serious?” The marker is sitting on a rock ledge 100 ft above. OMG! We need to climb a ‘shear’ rock cliff that’s between a glacier of ice and the overlooking ledge. Again, I hear Marve saying, “Are You Serious?!” “YUP!” I reply. Not happy, we start the climb. I let Marve go first. There is only room for one. It’s a very tricky passage. The rest of the trip is more of the same, narrow path’s and unstable terrain. If you’re afraid of heights, this may not be the trip for you. Safely back at base camp, even before I had supper made, I can already hear Marve snoring, passed out in the tent, with the sleeping bag right side out this time.

Thinking of hiking mount Albert Edward click here for the trail map

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