Hiking, backcountry skiing and even mountaineering alone, this is routine to me. To do so in grizzly country is more exotic, even though I have done it a few times before. But here, heading into Clendinning Provincial Park, that’s another matter. Between me and the alpine the untracked old growth forest stretches over 6 km as the crow flies, plus 1000 m of altitude gain. I do not expect to meet anyone. Once inside the forest I will be on my own, hoping for no mishap and, especially, no encounter with aggressive wildlife. These thoughts generate a sense of vulnerability that is holding me down now. Should I review my plans, go somewhere else? I do not have a great deal of trust in my deterrents, spray and bangers, to help deal with a really serious situation. On the other hand I know that the risk associated with bear, indeed the chance of seeing one, is minute. I have read extensively on the question and even discussed it with people with first hand experience of this kind of country. By far the greatest risk is terrain-related, but this is a fact I am used to disregard.
On the whole in this part of the forest the undergrowth is not too thick and does not make progress unpleasant. This changes markedly, although luckily not for too long, when reaching the first and largest of several little lakes in an area where the mountainside forms a wide plateau, near 1000-1100 m.
Beyond the plateau the undergrowth is often quite thick but progression is steady. A couple of streams provide scenic diversity as well as the welcome opportunity to re-hydrate. Higher up the forest cover opens up perhaps more gradually than I would have expected, and a number of beautiful tarns make this “sub-alpine” area very attractive.
A lake, near 1800m, is still largely frozen. After gaining a little more altitude I pitch my tent on a little snowy saddle, between two rocky outcrops which will provide excellent lookout spots. Looking down towards the valley, the plateau and its little lakes, midway up mountain, stretch in full view and the river beyond looks very far indeed. No wonder it took me about six and a half hours of almost continuous hiking to reach camp.
I had long been keen to visit Clendinning Provincial Park, discover its landscapes, immerse in its wilderness: this trip fully met my expectations. Thanks now to first-hand knowledge of the terrain new perspectives for more open-up, and my motivation is intact.
The car is reached at 3pm, nine and a half hours after start.
Elaho to Meager Hiking Trail. Published by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, May 2002 edition.
Clendenning Creek (92 J/5) and Mount Dalgleish (92 J/12). 1: 50,000. Produced by the Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Government of Canada, from aerial photographs taken in 1970.
Links to external websites:
[wb1] BC Parks website - British Columbia government website of all provincial parks, including Clendinning.
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