Reflections on the bucket list

So it’s 2016; a new year. So much to do. But there is so little time left, as one realizes as one gets older.

Sandy McRuer gazes over the mountains surounding the Alberni Valley while dreaming of new horizons to explore.

So it’s 2016; a new year. So much to do. But there is so little time left, as one realizes as one gets older. For me the New Year is a time to think about what outdoor things I haven’t done on this incredible Island, and incredible valley. And it means a little planning, including finding the routes up mountains I intend to hike, making sure my equipment is in good shape, buying new stuff if necessary and so on.

One of the items at the top of the list is to try kite boarding. For me it would mean finding a kiteboard to use, a wet/dry suit and someone willing to show me the ropes. Having done water skiing and downhill skiing using rope tows to get back up the hill, as well as some sailing, I think it would be something that I could learn fairly quickly.

One mountain I have never been up to the top of is Mount McQuillan.

The best access to it is through the community watershed. And so it is behind a locked gate to protect the security of the water. But most years the Outdoor Club schedules a trip up the mountain. And being a club the wardens of the key are more likely to give it to them. So that will be the best option for me to get up there.

There is some interesting history around this mountain. There are a number of old abandoned mines in the area that are well over 100 years old. McQuillan is the name of an early resident of Alberni.

Nearby, there are natural meadows below Douglas Peak. They are commonly referred to as Grassy Mountain. This is where the first skin was collected of the Vancouver Island Marmot. The biologists were so keen collecting specimens of a new mammal, that they wiped out the colony by shooting 12 of them. They never bred there again.

One of the most beautiful mountains to hike they say is the 5040. It provides a 360-degree view of the ruggedness of Vancouver Island. When I hiked to the top of Mount Klitsa, I thought that was a pretty fantastic view. The view from this mountain is supposed to be better.  The name comes from the height of the mountain in feet. Now, it wouldn’t sound as good if you called it Mount 1536. It is pretty easy to research the access on line, and there are a couple of different routes. In the past, the folks in the Outdoor Club have ribboned and brushed the route.

Another mountain I have never been to the top of is Mount Joan. At 1557 metres, it is the highest peak of the Beaufort Range. Apparently Mt Joan was named after Joan Moorhead, a daughter of one of the partners who cleared the railway line into Alberni. Nearby is Mount Hal, named after her brother.

From the top of this one you have a superb view of the entire Alberni Valley, as well as the Georgia Strait, or Salish Sea. Although I’ve heard that people have accessed the peak from the west side it is most commonly climbed from the east side of the range.

That will require me to drive around to Qualicum Bay and go in on the Horne Lake road and up the upper Qualicum River to the Cook Creek Road.

There is one falls I would dearly like to get into one day too. It is located in the headwaters of the Nahmint River. I’ve only seen it from afar on my way up Klitsa. And it was spectacular. Perhaps you’ve seen the Youtube video of it by Heart of Vancouver Island. It is truly a spectacular place. I may need a little bushwhacking to get there, and to ford the Nahmint. Brrr!  I’ll have to ask around.

But in the meantime I’ll just sit here relaxing by the fireplace insert having a cup of hot chocolate and dreaming of summer adventures.

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