No better place for alpine paradise

The Alberni Valley is home to many beautiful hikes—but it's important to be careful.

Looking for an alpine paradise (which on the Island means anything above 1200 metres)? Port Alberni is the starting point for many mountain hikes; but please make sure you follow some basic rules for safety.

A hot, dry wind blows up the inlet. It sucks the moisture out of you, or leaves you out of the wind sweltering in the shade of 30 degree Celsius heat. Clutching a cold beer, you look up to the mountains around and see snow. And you think, hey maybe it’s nicer up there…

It is—but wait! There are a few things you ought to do before you go up there. It’s not a theme park. There are real dangers and hazards. Ask our local Alberni Valley Rescue Squad.

First, tell people where you are going,  and then don’t change your mind. If you are a visitor to the area tell the staff at your accommodations, and tell them when to start worrying.

Second, bring water. You’re working hard in the sun to get to that patch of snow.

Most of the creeks have dried up, except where snow still exists.

On second thought, bring extra water.

Third, bring a buddy. Just as in swimming, hiking shouldn’t be done alone. It gives you more options if something bad happens.

There are other things, like proper footwear, extra clothing, map etc.

But I didn’t want to bore you with that lecture.

I wanted to rave about the alpine hiking around here.

It is superb, especially if you only want a taste of it on your holiday. Many of the mountains have trails on them that take you to the summit without ropes, and that are doable in a day or less.

The area is also closer to Victoria than Strathcona Park.

If you have GPS tracking either on your phone or on a dedicated GPS unit, there are lots of internet choices available to draw on. My personal favorite is ValleyOfTrails.ca.

I could go on. There is no alpine south of this area on Vancouver Island. So hikers looking for alpine have to, at least, come here from Nanaimo southward. That represents about two-thirds of the population of this island.

I know that’s why we had so many visitors on Mount Moriarty two weeks ago; I counted 33 people going up the mountain that day in four separate parties.

Some were from Victoria, from Nanaimo, from Parksville, and from Courtenay.

There are lots of mountains to climb along the way to Tofino and around the Alberni valley and other local drainages. Besides Mount Arrowsmith and Mount Cokely there are: Mount Moriarty, Copper Mountain, Mount Douglas, Limestone Mountain, Mount Anderson, Mount Joan, Mount McQuillan, Mount Hal, Mount Klitsa, Nahmint Mountain, Mount 5040, Thunder Mountain, Dog Mountain, Mount Adder, Pogo Mountain. And so on.

But it’s not just facts that should draw you to the alpine, it’s the views, the flowers, the magnificence, and the splendor of it all.

You can imagine the glaciers carving out valleys below you. And when the valleys below are filled with fog and low cloud, it seems you have those very glaciers in front of you.

And you can roam. You can see where you are going, with the only vegetation being heather, wildflowers and scattered scrubby trees.

And, best of all, you may find a deep mountain tarn you can plunge into and enjoy a cold bracing swim before descending to the heat below.

 

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