More and more interest is being taken in the country back of the strip of littoral, which forms the inhabited part of Vancouver Island; that expanse of valley and mountain, unknown save to the trapper and the prospector. Last week Messers G. [Geoffrey] B. Capes and W.A. [Adrian] B. Paul made a traverse into country at the foot of the Comox Glacier; and Mr. C. [Clinton] S. Wood explored the country at the source of the Brown's River. Both found wonderful country. Below is a graphic description of the trip to the glacier country.
"Leaving Comox Lake about 11.50 we followed the trail on the south side of the Cruikshank River; it was very good in parts, winding through timber and lined with bushes of luscious looking huckleberries and blueberries. There were two little bluffs, the crossing of which gave us an inkling of what was to come. We had been walking about an hour when the trail disappeared in a pleasant, shady tangle of Devil's Club and salmon berry, but mostly Devil's club. The thorny limbs of the Devil's Club were thick, and the large thorny leaves sought the light high above our heads. There was no help for it, we struggled to the river bank, to find the water too deep for wading; we crawled on our hands and knees; we chopped at branches; we walked hopefully through any opening, usually to find the way blocked; and finally zigzagged into better country.
Trail and Devil's Club
We noted with interest the good judgment of the gentlemen who had blazed the trail; they had done anything to avoid Devil's Club, preferring a steep hard climb to going through it. After several miles the trail climbed steeply, then descended to the creek, where we lost it in the brush. After some deliberation we mounted the slope again, and continued in a South Westerly direction; the steep mountain sloping up on the one side, and down below the noisy little creek.
In choosing our direction we hoped for the best, as we were in a valley, we had little choice, unless we climbed the mountain. Our vision was limited by the trees, and down below the greener foliage which marked the course of the creek. About seven we descended to the creek, at a point where it forked; and pushing through the brush, followed the branch going westerly. At 7.30 we flung down our packs on a large island of shingle.
An hour was spent cutting boughs and making camp; after a supper of bacon and eggs and much tea we sought our blankets.
Climbing With Packs
Though we had set out with an objective, the fact that we did not know if we could climb the objective when we got there, and that we were seeing a new country, and that in any case the sun was shinning and the forest and mountains were there for our benefit, did not permit us to be downcast. What could not be done on this trip could be done at another time. So we forced our weary legs to carry us and our packs ever upwards.
Long ago we had left the Devil's Club and the red huckleberry. Small blueberries grew on scrubby bushes. There was less timber, and the trees were smaller, some pine and yellow cedar.
The Gleaming Glacier
A more or less flat mountain top lay before us, the surface covered with rock, flat rock easy to walk on; buttresses of rock; steps and terraces of rock; the soil between the rock was peat mostly covered with heather. The timber was small and scattered, and appearing between the trees and above, the snow covered summit of the Dome, known so well in Courtenay as the Glacier.
Dotting the surface here and there, were ponds and little lakes, small bushes growing round the sides of some; others bounded by rock walls; some clear, others covered with water lilies. By the side of one of these, in a little dip in the peaty ground we flung down our packs; although only half the day was gone, we decided to camp in this spot for the night.
A Bird's Eye View
Having gazed, compared the country with the map, taken bearings with the compasses, we turned away and strolled towards a ridge much higher than we were. After the limited view of wooded valley, it was a great relief to be able to walk in comfort. We reached a spot were we climbed down on to a rocky perch, and before us across a deep valley, was the whole face of the glacier. From the round Dome, the snow formed a kind of semi-circle, ending in an ice cliff, the face of which might be anything from 100 to 300 feet thick.
We observed the creek on which we had camped, winding its way up the valley, and ending in a big patch of dirty looking snow, some two thousand feet or so below the summit of the glacier. We studied this point with more care, wondering could we have climbed the glacier had we followed the creek. To the right a rocky slope ended in the snow; it looked possible but doubtful; one thought of what would happen should a slip be made. A little to the left was what appeared to be a three sided chimney; this also looked possible; once climbed we would be on a snowy slope leading to a kind of connecting mountain between the Glacier and another but smaller mountain. This snowy gap bore two trees wide apart.
To the left of the chimney there was a mountain bridge, joining the main mountain at the top of the chimney, the end the nearest to us curving down very steeply; next to this again was a mountain forming one side of the creek. We thought it possible, one might find a way between the bridge and the mountain to reach the two tree gap, from which it seemed as if one would be sure to reach the Glacier summit.
Gay With Flowers
Returning to camp we enjoyed a bathe in the warm water of the little lake, after supper we went back to the observation point overlooking the Comox Valley; but the smoke haze was thicker than before. The only new discovery we made was a small lake, probably the source of the South Fork of the Cruikshank.
Up at that height we expected to spend a cold night, but it was not bad, a little chilly in the early morning hours. After a leisurely breakfast and a swim, we hoped to have a better view of the Comox Valley, nut except for the topmost peaks of the Coast Range, standing above the smoke, we saw nothing new. On our way we surprised a buck standing in full view upon a rock.
Two caves in Glacier
From there, we dipped into the valley and at the highest point of it, we dropped our packs, and in twenty minutes had climbed to the top of the ridge. Another view opened before our eyes; in one direction Comox Lake; in another innumerable mountains and valleys. Northwards towards Mount Washington, lay a long flat mountain along the summit of which, one could probably walk for eight miles on level ground. Below us lay a lake of some sixty acres in extent, the outlet of which looked to us to take a tremendous drop, almost at the edge of the lake.
White and Purple Heather
The Deep Abyss
It was nearly four o'clock when we reached our packs; we had a little difficulty finding a place to build a fire, the soil being dry and peaty; after a meal about 4.45 we began our homeward journey. Our intention was to follow the creek down; for a short distance all went well; then we came to a drop, impossible to descend, so we clambered p the mountain side and came back to the creek later; there was thick brush on the mountain, which while it gave us something to hold onto, made the travelling difficult. Several times we had to leave the creek in this way, until at last it ran through a narrow canyon, at the entrance of which it dropped sheer some sixty feet. Thereafter we kept to the mountain side.
Kind of Thistle
Deer Make Good Trails
The trail eventually disappeared among some Devil's Club; so crossing the creek we climbed a little way into the timber, where for some time we had good going, until the way became too steep, forcing us through a jungle of brush, through a swampy place, back on to the creek. After this we waded the creek, walking the shingle bars, or taking to the woods as suited best. We at last reached the Cruikshank River.
After a rest and a meal,
we crossed the river, and found a trail on the north side, which we followed
until it stopped at a shingle bar; having by this time passed the bad
patch of Devil's Club on the south side of the river, we crossed over
on a log and struck the trail which brought us out again at the starting
point on Comox Lake.