Date: Aug 1-2, 2014
Participants: Fatemeh Riahi, Ali Kamali, Devin Erickson, Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger
Report: Brittany has been asking to go into Tenquille Lake and do a few of the nearby hikes / scrambles for a few years now, but until last week the time and opportunity had never arisen. Luckily, we’ve spent the last couple weeks on vacation, and what better way to spend the last couple days of it than taking some friends out for their first ever backpacking experience at a beautiful lake and with a perfect weather forecast.
We met up at Mt. Currie coffee Friday morning at 9 o’clock, and drove off towards Birken where we took the Tenquille-Birkenhead FSR to access the area from the east. Most of the road is in very good shape (probably want a 4×4 all the way from where you leave the Pemberton Portage road), although the last 5km or so has been deactivated and requires a high clearance 4×4. We departed from the trailhead at about a quarter to 11, and arrived at the cabin at the west end of the lake almost exactly two hours later. Luckily we were the first to arrive at the lake for the long weekend and had our choice of camping location. We set up camp perhaps 200 feet from the cabin in a large open area, and sat down in the cabin to enjoy a good lunch. The lake itself is beautiful and the view to the west is dominated by Sun God (which we ascended a few years ago, it’s easy from this angle to see how the peak got its name).
On our way we were passed by a large party of 18 mountain bikers, all on 2015 Giant Reign’s (disclaimer: I own a 2014 Giant Reign). Apparently the group was press junket of sorts, a mix of bike company employees and journalists flown in to review the new bikes in a beautiful environment. They had been dropped off at the head of Barbour’s valley and were making their way by Tenquille Lake in order to descend the trail down to the Pemberton Valley. It’d be a wonderful place to bike, although I couldn’t help but notice that it would be better to bike there later in the season when it was a bit drier… some of the muddier areas near the lake looked like a war zone after all the bikes had pass through.
After a hearty lunch and setting up camp, we headed up to Copper Mound. We misread the directions in Gunn’s book and thought that there would be a trail heading up to Fossil Pass from Tenquille Pass, but after hiking up to Tenquille Pass and descending a fair ways down the other side, we realized that that was not the case, and made our way up the open slopes to Fossil Pass and from there up the easy scree and talus fields to the summit of Copper Mound. The views from the summit were excellent! There were a couple of paragliders flying overhead, the Pemberton Valley long below on one side, and views of Goat, Tenquille, the Sampson area, Currie, Ipsoot, Rhododendron, and the peaks at the northern end of the Pemberton Icefield. While the rest of our party wanted to lounge about on top, I wanted to bag another peak, and set off for a quick ascent of Mt. McLeod. I moved quick and made it summit to summit in 45 minutes, took a few quick pictures, and scurried back to Fossil Pass where I arrived just a few minutes before everyone else. From here it was an easy descent back down to the lake where we hung out and had a great dinner. Devin tried out the plastic kayak under the cabin while dinner was being cooked, and while it made for great photos, the kayak turned out to have holes in its bottom and he ended up unexpectedly wet and joined us back in the cabin much sooner than we expected.
On the Saturday we had a slow morning eating breakfast, packing up our tents, and talking to some of the people who had arrived in the area the previous evening. We set off with all our gear again at about a quarter to 11, and dropped all of our bags except for two small day bags just past the turn off to Barbour’s valley. The trail up into the valley is in great shape, and following Gunn’s directions we made our way up Mt. Barbour. The route is mostly hiking, but has a 5-10 minute section of moderate scrambling just below the summit that added to the fun and epicness of the ascent. Just like Copper Mound, the views from the top were great, but the summit has a much more aesthetic atmosphere than Copper Mound, and there was unanimous agreement that it was our favourite peak of the trip. We left the summit at about 2:45 and headed down to our bags and from their to the Jeep, arriving at the Jeep just past 6:30.
Two full days of hiking, but everyone survived and at least claimed to have fun 🙂 We were even down early enough to enjoy a dinner at the Wood in Pemberton before saying goodbye and bringing our vacation to an end. Tenquille Lake exceeded my expectations with regards to beauty and ease of access and I can see why it’s so popular these days. The only downside of the area was the massive number of biting horseflies. I can’t wait to get back up there and ascent the peaks on the north side of the lake! Thanks to all for the great trip!