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Pushing Up Mt Albert Edward

n late August I revisited a hike that I haven’t done since my days as a boy scout. Back then, we did the trip over the course of a week. This time around, I attempted it in 2.5 days with friends Bruce and Dennis. Strathcona Provincial Park is one of Vancouver Island’s premier hiker friendly and easily accessible parks. It offers a number of long multi-day hiking opportunities as well as day hiking. This time around, our goal was to summit one of the more popular peaks in the area: Forbidden Plateau, Mt Albert Edward, standing at 2093m/6867ft.

We made this into an extremely fast 2 night trip. Our goal was a quick 3 km night hike after a midnight arrival to the park on day 1, followed by an immediate camp and summit on day 2, then our hike out on day 3. While action packed and a very long day 2, we made it work, summited and got out safely.

From the parking lot to our first destination (Lake Helen Mackenzie), was just over an hour of easy hiking. It was a good primer for what was to come on day 2. The trail was well maintained, fast and fun to do at night.

Day 2 was a big one. We went from Lake Helen Mackenzie to Circlet Lake, ~10 km away (~ 3.5 hours). After setting up camp, eating yummy hotdogs and dropping our packs we headed up Mount Albert Edward. From Circlet to the summit was a tiring 6.5 km, 935 m elevation march up through the treeline and into the alpine. At the higher elevations we encountered and crossed a number of snowfields, moderate wind and lots of fog. Apparently it’s really hard to have a nice blue sky day up there! It took us about 5 hours to get up to the peak and back down to Circlet for our well deserved rest. Unfortunately we left Circlet slightly late (~14h30) so we finished the last km or so in the dark. Definitely not recommended but we were prepared and brought our headlamps so everything was ok.

Day 3 was simply the hike out from Circlet Lake to the parking lot. A nice 5 hour, 13 km hike out and we were back to civilization. Tired but happy- what a great trip!

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