Date: August 27, 2017
Participants: Nancy Zenger, Jeff Wallace, Geoff Zenger
Report: Hector Ferguson Lake is certainly the most notorious of the 103 hikes, not least because its published roundtrip distance of 28km is a gross misunderestimation by any measure and also because of its crossing of Gold Creek. Nonetheless, as an aspiring completionist, it was finally time to head to the infamous lake.
I posted a trip on the BCMC schedule and failed to find any takers, but managed to convince Nancy and Jeff to come along with the promise that they would make a 7pm dinner in town. This seemed overly ambitious given that we weren’t going to be able to have a very early start and I managed to dig up a trip report alleging a 13.5 hour round trip time, but nonetheless decided to take advantage of the opportunity and have a go at the lake. To my surprise, aside from a couple km of nearly destroyed trail on either side of the Gold Creek crossing, it’s quite a pleasant trip!
I was picked up in the morning just past 7, and this meant that we were able to be parked at the East Canyon lot in Golden Ears Park and on the trail at a few minutes past 8. We brought our bikes and aside from being a bit grunty in short sections, had no difficulty making good time up the East Canyon trail. We passed Viewpoint beach and at about 5.75km stashed our bikes in the bush beside the trail, a couple hundred metres past where the trail ceased to be reasonable for biking. Total biking time was a bit over an hour, perhaps around 1:10-1:15.
From where we hid the bikes in the bush, the trail is in great shape (with minor exceptions) until past the 10km marker. However, there is a certain point around 10.5km where the trail rapidly deteriorates. Soon after becoming bushy, the trail is just above the creek and there is some flagging leading down to it as well as flagging leading straight ahead. We tried following the trail above the creek, but it’s terrible and quickly backtracked and went down to the creek, following it to a sandbar where the river makes a hard turn to hiker’s left. This is the only point where the route was not obvious. You’ll see the trail above the creek descending down to you on your right, but continue straight ahead into the bush to find flagging and a continuation of the trail to the crossing over Gold Creek.
This is where the trail is simply destroyed. It is only a few hundred metres, but trees have fallen over left, right, and centre. With a bit of creativity though it was possible to stay on top of many of the trees and make our way across the mess, through a few minutes of badly overgrown trail, and pop out onto the beach just 50m downstream of where you need to cross Gold Creek. Look for the obvious flagging on the far side of the creek. I crossed the creek on some logs about 50m downstream of the flagging, and Nancy and Jeff simply took off their shoes and waded through the slightly-above-ankle deep water to the far side. Total time from car to Gold Creek crossing: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
From the far side of Gold Creek, the trail heads through the bush for a few minutes to the easy crossing over Hector Ferguson Creek, and continues through blow down and berry bushes as it starts its ascent towards Hector Ferguson Lake. At first the trail is in quite bad shape, but after a short while becomes much better. The trail is extremely well flagged, and while not too quick due to all of the branch dodging and occasional bushy section, was easy enough to follow all the way up to Hector Ferguson Lake. Total time to lake: 4 hours, 15 minutes.
I was so happy to be there! At last, Hector Ferguson Lake! The lake itself isn’t anything special, just any other lake in the mountain, but it’s pleasant enough and we had a good lunch before starting our descent.
Our descent from Hector Ferguson Lake to Gold Creek was as slow as our ascent. I attributed this to a remarkable drop in our enthusiasm, but after a refreshing foot and leg dip in Gold Creek we felt rejuvenated enough to head back down the East Canyon Trail to the parking lot. It took us almost an hour and a half back to our bikes, but other than the initial hill climb just past the East/West Canyon trails connector bridge, the trail is entirely downhill to the cars and we made it back to our car at a quarter to 5. Total time from lake to parking lot: 4 hours, 9 minutes.
In the end, I enjoyed the trip a lot more than I expected I would. It’s close to town, features a lot of pleasant and varied terrain, and was a rather nice way to spend a hot day near the city. The bikes helped a lot, and allowed us to do the round trip in less than 9 hours, moving quickly but never racing (speed at getting over small logs a big plus). The only real problem with the trail is the amount of bush that is encroaching on it. The good news is that it’s 99% minor bush, and if a couple parties were to do the round trip with shears in their hands, just clipping away as they travelled up and down, the trail would quickly be in pretty good shape again. If you’re thinking of heading in, maybe bring some with you and help out your fellow hikers!
Note: For comfort, recommended to bring a GPS track of the trail with you. The GPS track on open street map of the east canyon trail is complete and appeared to be accurate.