Written on July 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm, by Scott
Written on July 5, 2013 at 3:30 am, by Scott
Backcountry Classic – Hiking
AGE GROUP: 15-17
Length: 12 DAYS
Dates: Aug 11-22, 2013
Skills: Backcountry Basics, Paddle Strokes, Map and Compass, Alpine Hiking and Route Finding, Ice Axe Use and Snow Travel (depending on snow conditions)
Our most challenging camp and a true expedition. Starting at the lodge, participants will paddle by canoe to a trailhead and hike for several days into the alpine culminating in a steep mile long climb to reach the summit of Mount McBride before returning home.
Our most advanced camp is a 12-day multi-sport expedition. Beginning at Strathcona Park Lodge the group sets out by canoe down Buttle Lake heading for the Marble Meadows Trail, a water access-only backpack route into the Vancouver Island mountains. The trail leads to a huge alpine meadow where several mountains and ridges can be climbed, including snow covered Mount McBride, one of the highest peaks on Vancouver Island. After six days of hiking, its back in the boats for a two day canoe back to the Lodge.
Day 1: After the group arrives at Strathcona Park Lodge they will begin packing and planning the expedition. Dinner is in the Whale Room and the group will sleep at the lodge’s base camp.
Day 2: With a hearty breakfast out of the way you’ll load the canoes and begin paddling down Upper Campbell Lake. The mountains will get higher and snowier as you head south into Buttle Lake, exploring coves and beaches. After making camp you’ll begin learning the backcountry basics: how to set up shelter, prepare dinner and light a fire.
Day 3: The group will continue down Buttle Lake, passing several river estuaries before arriving at Phillips Creek and the trail to Marble Meadows. Here they will set up one more lake camp and lighten their load before heading into the mountains for six days.
Day 4: The switchbacking trail climbs steadily, passing through old growth forests and onto the edge of Marble Meadows; a wilderness camp will be set in the rolling plateau of wildflowers and patches of forest.
Day 5-9: Spend the next 5 days exploring the alpine area of Marble Meadows including Wheaton hut, Limestone cap, Morrison Spire and, the highlight, the summit of Mount McBride. Each destination demands fitness, group management and teamwork, as well as new skills like ice axe use, snow climbing, off trail navigation and map reading. At camp each night the group will take on more responsibility with meals, group decisions and planning.
Day 10-11: Down at lake level again – it’s time for the paddle back. As a well-oiled group, the canoes will fly across the lake. Enjoy refreshing swims and lakeside campsites as your canoes hug the shore on the journey home. A celebratory dinner and last night with your group rounds out your WYLD experience.
Day 12: On your final day, paddle back to Strathcona Park Lodge, enjoy a shower, clean up, pack up and head home knowing you have accomplished more than you likely thought possible; proud of your new skills, increased confidence and shared memories.
Written on June 28, 2013 at 3:30 am, by Scott
Nootka Adventure – Sea Kayaking
AGE GROUP: 14-16
Length: 8 DAYS
Dates: July 20-27, 2013
Skills: Backcountry Basics, Kayak Strokes & Rescues, Ocean Travel, Marine Navigation and Weather, Surf Landings and Launchings, Trip Safety
A moderately challenging sea kayak trip in Nootka Sound, a little known remote and wildlife rich destination on Vancouver Island’s west coast.
We’re not sure why more people don’t sea kayak in Nootka Sound, but we’re not complaining. The rugged coast near Gold River on the west side of Vancouver Island is a sea kayaker’s dream. There are dozens of islands, empty beaches, tidal pools galore, coves, inlets and passages to explore and resident whales, sea lions and sea otters to spot. On this 8-day adventure we’ll learn about thousands of years of First Nation history, hundreds of years of European occupation, the tides, weather and ocean navigation all while visiting some of the best campsites on the coast.
Day 1: After arriving at Strathcona you’ll meet your fellow Expedition members and your instructors. As a group you’ll begin planning your trip, including an introduction to sea kayaking skills, strokes and rescues. Dinner is in the Whale Room and the group will sleep at the lodge’s base camp.
Day 2: The adventure beings after breakfast with a van ride to the Nootka Sound. In a quiet marina you’ll pack your kayak and set off across the sheltered waters following the coast of Bligh Island. As you paddle past coves and small beaches you’ll begin to get comfortable in your sea kayak. By late afternoon the group will begin looking for a good place to camp for the night.
Day 3-6: Over the next several days time is spent learning the backcountry basics as well as exploring the islands, beaches and shores of Nootka Sound. You may spend time fishing for dinner, or scrambling around tidal pools teeming with new and exciting sights, or you may just lay back and float, enjoying the peaceful solitude of the Sound. You may visit Friendly Cove where Captain Cook landed in 1778. Here you are introduced to the First Nations people and culture of this region. Being in the wilderness means attending to the essentials. As days pass you will find you have honed many of your camping skills and your group begins to take over more responsibility from your instructors, taking over the navigation, campsite selection and set-up, and meal planning and preparation. It is your opportunity to use everything you have learned to finish your journey and succeed as a team.
Day 7: The last strokes return you and your group to the marina where a van will be waiting to take you back to the Lodge, a warm shower, a celebratory meal and a final night with your group.
Day 8: On your final day campers clean up, pack up and head home knowing you have accomplished more than you likely thought possible; proud of your new skills, increased confidence and shared memories.
Written on June 21, 2013 at 3:30 am, by Scott
Backcountry Beginnings – Rock Climbing and Multi Day Camping
AGE GROUP: 14-16
Length: 8 DAYS
Dates: July 20-27, 2013
Skills: Backcountry Basics, Paddle Strokes, Rock Climbing, Map and Compass
Difficulty Level: Introductory/Moderate
By the end of this moderately challenging backcountry introduction participants will be leading the group as they travel by sea kayak and by foot in the Strathcona Park wilderness.
This introduction to backcountry travel is a sampling of the best of Strathcona’s chunk of paradise: rock climbing and high ropes at Strathcona Park Lodge; day hikes into the Vancouver Island mountains; and a multi-day sea kayak trip on glacier carved lakes. You’ll challenge yourself high off the ground, hike a pristine valley and follow bear and elk tracks across an estuary, all while learning how to be self sufficient in the backcountry.
Day 1: After arriving at Strathcona you’ll meet your fellow Expedition members and your instructors. The instructors will show you around the Lodge and play a few games to get to know your group. You’ll also begin planning your Expedition. Dinner is in the Whale Room and you’ll sleep at the Lodge’s base camp.
Day 2: The high ropes course will be your first challenge. Suspended 40-feet off the ground the ropes, logs and wires are a physical and mental challenge that requires team work and trust to navigate. It’s also a lot of fun. In the afternoon you’ll head down to the water to become familiar with sea kayaking skills, strokes and rescues in preparation for your kayak expedition. Eat and base camp at the lodge.
Day 3: Start the day with another challenge, this time on the rock climbing bluff to learn the basics of climbing, knot tying, rope systems, safety equipment, rappelling and grabbing the rock to climb up. Getting off the ground and reaching the top will require teamwork, trust and perseverance. The feeling of accomplishment at the top is matched by the adrenaline of rappelling back down. After lunch you’ll pack your sea kayak and head out on an adventure.
Day 4-7: Over the next four days you’ll explore Upper Campbell and Buttle lakes. You might take side trips into the river mouths, or look for the perfect swimming spot, or you may just lay back and float enjoying mountain rimmed lakes. A highlight of this expedition is a day hike through the pristine Tlools Valley where you will attempt to reach spectacular Mia falls. Tlools is a wild and rugged old growth valley, home to abundant wildlife. By the last few days you and your group will become self sufficient, you’ll be taking over the decision making from your instructors, you’ll navigate, pick campsites, set up camp, prepare meals and light fires. A celebratory dinner and last night with your group rounds out your WYLD experience.
Day 8: On your final day, paddle back to Strathcona Park Lodge, enjoy a shower, clean up, pack up and head home knowing you have accomplished more than you likely thought possible; proud of your new skills, increased confidence and shared memories.
Written on June 14, 2013 at 3:30 am, by Scott
Discovery Camp – High Ropes, Canoeing, Rock Climbing and Hiking
Our introductory camp combines an overnight canoe trip and a mountain hike with rock climbing and high ropes course at Strathcona Park Lodge.
Strathcona Park Lodge sits on the edge of the vast lake system in the shadow of Vancouver Island’s highest mountains. The Discovery Expedition brings in the best of both worlds – campers will paddle down fjord-like Buttle Lake with snowcapped mountains all around and hike deep into Strathcona Provincial Park to visit one of its hidden jewels, Landslide Lake.
Day 1: After arriving at Strathcona you’ll meet your fellow Expedition members and your instructors. The instructors will show you around the Lodge and play a few games to get to know your group. You’ll also begin planning your Expedition. Dinner is in the Whale Room and the night is spent at the Lodge.
Day 2: To the High Ropes Course you’ll go. Suspended 40-feet in the air this exciting challenge is a fun introduction to your Expedition. After lunch at the Whale Room you’ll pack canoes and set off for a three day canoe trip. The trip starts on Upper Campbell Lake with its intricate shoreline full of bays and sandy beaches before passing through the narrows into Buttle Lake, and Strathcona Park.
Day 3-4: Exploring coves, bays and river mouths you’ll paddle down Buttle Lake under the towering massifs of snow capped mountains. The scenery is spectacular looking down this long and narrow lake. In camp you’ll work as a team to set up shelter and make meals. You’ll learn about no trace camping, canoe strokes and more. If the wind blows you’ll hoist a sail and relax before returning to Strathcona Park Lodge before lunch on day 4. After lunch you’ll be able to test your climbing skills on one of the rock climbing bluffs and then move onto the bouldering wall where you’ll learn about technique. You’ll then head to a rock cliff near the lodge and you’ll learn rock climbing etiquette, proper harnessing, climbing, belaying and the rappelling technique. After your climb, enjoy a meal in the Whale Room and a night at the Lodge.
Day 5-7: An after-breakfast shuttle will land the group at the Elk River Trail in Strathcona Park – this will be the start of a three day hike. This excellent hike climbs through old growth forest to Landslide Lake, one of the most scenic lakes on Vancouver Island, surrounded by the towering walls of Mount Colonel Foster. This is your group’s opportunity to use everything you have learned to fully manage the navigation, campsite selection and set-up, and meal planning and preparation. Upon completion of your hike, head back for a celebratory feast in the Whale Room and your final night together at the Lodge.
Day 8: After packing up, enjoy a final morning of fun and games before travelling home.
Written on June 6, 2013 at 3:30 am, by Scott
New for 2013!! Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Adventurous Journey
AGE GROUP: 16-18
Length: 6 DAYS
Date: July 2-7, 2013
Skills: Trip Planning and Preparation, Backcountry Basics, Paddle Strokes, Canoe Tripping, Map and Compass, Navigation
The Gold Adventurous Journey will take participants on a multi-day canoe trip of the scenic Sayward Canoe Circuit on Vancouver Island. This 48 km chain of lakes, creeks and portages is an ideal destination for the aspiring canoeist. The trip is designed to specifically meet the criteria of the Gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and includes the preliminary training, practice journey and expedition. The journey is supervised by two Strathcona Park Lodge outdoor instructors and all group gear, canoes, meals and shuttles are all included.
Prior to the trip participants will receive a worksheet to complete and bring with them to help get started with the preliminary training.
Day 1: Participants will be met in Campbell River or can be dropped off at Strathcona Park Lodge. The first afternoon will be spent getting to know other members of the group and the instructors while getting right into planning for the expedition. Going over gear, discussing the route and getting on the water the first day will build excitement for the trip ahead. A hearty dinner in the Whale Room will fill you up and prepare you for the first night camping on property. This night counts as the first practice journey for participants entering directly into Gold.
Day 2: Final preparations in the morning, loading the canoes on the trailer, lunch in the Whale Room and then into the van for the short drive to the put-in for the start of the journey. A short paddle to a campsite is perfect to hone paddling and steering skills. The first night out with the canoes will count as the second practice journey.
Days 3 – 5: According to the Duke of Ed participant’s record book, the expedition is to be a demanding journey – and these days will be. From the time you break camp in the morning until you lay down in your sleeping bag at night, you can expect to paddle, portage and work together to travel over the water and land of this scenic area. Along the way you’ll check out small islands, isolated beaches, stands of old growth trees, and old trestle bridges that are remnants of the logging railroads that used to crisscross the landscape.
Day 6: Your final day begins in camp and ends when you board the shuttle for the trip home. By now your packing and paddling skills will be dialled in and the last few kilometres will glide by. Back at the lodge there will just be time to clean up, change and fill in your record book before heading to Campbell River on your return journey. All that is left for you to do is write up your trip report and enjoy the rest of the summer.