Trip Date: Sept 1, 2013
Participants: Alex Le, Nikta, Ed Zenger, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger
Report: Although only 16 days after quite invasive surgery, a great Sunday forecast gave me the energy to try and do something other than rest and recover and instead to get out in the mountains for the first time in a few weeks. Wanting to find something within my diminished energy levels, I hit on the idea of going to Wells Peak, the southern neighbour of Hope Mountain (which I climbed last October).
We met at my place in New Westminster and set out towards Hope just before 9am, and after a quick stop in Hope, headed up the Mount Hope FSR. The road leading up to the final junction is in slightly worse condition than it was last fall, but shouldn’t give anyone with a high clearance 4×4 any trouble. It is a bit loose in places, and some small rocks needed to be cleared out of the way, but the water bars are all well constructed and easily passable. Last fall, the last 500m of road, from the final junction to the trailhead was badly overgrown with alder, but someone has done a great job clearing the road, and we were able to drive the last section of road with nary a scratch on the Jeep. Many thanks to whoever cleared out the road and repainted the trailhead signs!
We started on the trail just past 11:30, and were pleasantly surprised that although the first part of the trail through the cut block is quite overgrown, it is overgrown with soft bushes and grasses, unlike the Hope Mountain trail, which is overgrown with small conifers through the cut block. Once the old growth is reached after around 20 minutes of hiking, the trail is well built and easy to follow as it rises steeply up towards the beautiful meadows below Wells Peak.
Up in the meadows, the trail peters out and we stopped for lunch. Having forgotten our trail description back at the trailhead, we set out towards the notch just NW of the main summit of Wells Peak (climbers right of the summit, 103 hikes recommends crossing the meadows and heading up the ridge climbers left). Although it looked steep from a distance, reaching the notch was only class 2, and from there we turned left and headed up on the ridge crest towards the main summit of Wells Peak (note that the summit NW of the notch has a large cairn on top, but is not the highest summit). The NW ridge has some exposure and one 3m class 3 step that must be negotiated before reaching the main summit, but everyone made it up, and by 2pm we were all on the summit.
The summit of Wells Peak has great views all around with clear views of the Chehalis, Judge Howay, Slesse, Rexford, Outram, Tulameen, Coquihalla, and the Silvertip group. We sat down for another snack and to lounge about on the summit only to find that the summit was infested by a swarm of annoying (non-biting) flies. Nonetheless, we spent 30 minutes enjoying the views before heading down towards the SE to see if that ridge provided an easier route to and from the summit.
The SE ridge of Wells Peak does descend down to the meadows without any rock scrambling, but is covered in slippery vegetation, and so in the end, I’m not sure whether it’s really any easier than the NW notch route. Regardless, we all made it down to the meadows without injury, found the trail once again, and in what felt like no time at all, were back down at the Jeep by 4:30. Total trip time: 5 hours.
As a final thought, which trail do I prefer? Wells Peak or Hope Mountain? Wells Peak is a more direct route, and less bushy, but I still prefer Hope Mountain slightly due to the route up the ridge being more enjoyable, more varied and having a much nicer summit. Too bad someone doesn’t go and brush out the first 1km of the Hope Mountain trail…