Four wonderful days away from the city! We planned to hit the road before 8am to maximize our time spent away from the big smoke, its headache inducing traffic and the congregation of people and concrete. There would be 7 of us and we hoped to head out to where no one but bears and birds and moose would be around for miles. The upper reaches of the Elaho River near Clendinning Provincial Park was our destination. But it was the Elaho Giant, a massive old-growth Douglas fir (3rd Largest Circumference in North America), that was truly on our list of must-sees.
My buddy decided to stay over so we could save time in the morning and avoid making a stop and going out of our way to his house…we would simply get up grab the coolers and jump in the already packed car. Didn’t quite happen as smoothly as that! You see my friend is an early riser while most mornings I stumble and yawn and grumble like a bear woken early from his blissful hibernation. In typical form, he was up before 6am and chomping at the bit to get going. In an effort to be helpful while I slumbered, he decided to finish packing the car. This would be fine except his helpfulness included packing the shoes & some of the gear I needed to wear. He also managed to break the key off in the front door lock to the apartment building, which happens to be the sole entrance to the apartment building…the entrance that ALL of the tenants need to enter and leave by. Did I mention that my landlord is a surly Croatian man who doesn’t receive bad news well in the morning? Oh, and did I mention it was still before 7am?
We still hit the road before 8am and already we had a story to share. Our three hour trip would take us 60 miles up logging roads northwest of Squamish, first following the Squamish River then turning up the Elaho Mainline. I had a campsite in mind from a previous weekend…the perfect place where the valley opens up slightly and maximizes the last remaining rays of sun in the day. This space would be a prime location for 4 days of watching the sun come up and go down while exploring the other wilderness sights in and around camp as well as awe-inspiring Clendinning Park.
The road up was decent with the usual potholes and washboard you would expect on an active industry road. At Mile 39 where the Elaho River joins the Squamish we crossed the bridge and started up Elaho Mainline. The road narrows and climbs following the tighter canyon and a few miles further we encountered a great thundering waterfall right beside the road. A thick mist continuously drifts across the bridge from the cascading falls providing an icy shower as we got out and walked across. Miles further we finally arrived at our camping spot.
The next few days were amazing and included finding the Elaho Giant at around Mile 65. We used our trusty Backroad Mapbook, and when we realized we were on a road not normally used to access the trail to the Giant, we pulled out the Backroad GPS Maps. It was almost like cheating it was so detailed. We cut across the brush and when we finally saw her, there was no question. The bark on this Douglas fir was nearly 1 foot deep and it was not too hard to believe that this totem had stood watch over the forest for over 1000 years.
We rounded out our trip stomping through thigh high snow in the trails leading into Clendinning Park. Surrounded by old growth trees and glacial peaks, this is a true wilderness treat.
At the end of the weekend the entire party left feeling awed and inspired by the pristine forests and wilderness areas…and dreaming about the next time we could visit this amazing place!