The Hike In
Landslide Lake is a moderately traveled 21.1km out and back trail. The trail starts from the Elk River Trailhead. Traveling mostly through old growth forest next to the Elk River, the kilometers will flow by with ease on the relatively flat trail. In total the trail gains about a thousand meters. Most of that is on the final climb to the lake within the last four km. Crossing bridges, walking under down trees, and next to waterfalls are the highlights of the hike in. Overall, the trail is absolutely beautiful and incredibly well maintained. Although you can hike to the lake in a long day I’d highly suggest camping at one of the two campgrounds. We chose to camp at the later campground, Gravel Flats, before making our way up the final two km in the morning.
It rained on and off on our way to camp that day. Thankfully, when we reached the Gravel Flats campground, nine km in, the rain ceased and the clouds lifted. Because it was early season (mid May) we were only one of two tents in the whole campground! It was great to be in the presence of friends and the sound of the river. Drinking straight from the river we filled our bellies with the cold snowmelt water, set up our tents, and prepared to make dinner. Dinner is always my favorite time of the day when backpacking. Typically when I go hiking for multiple days I bring lightweight dehydrated meals. Because this was just a single night we brought all the goodies. Burritos were on the menu and I couldn’t wait. Over the years Nikki and I have gotten quite good at cooking on a single burner backcountry stove. Soon veggies, rice, and beans were prepared and wrapped in toasted tortillas. Maybe the best backcountry meal I have ever had. We all stayed up for a couple of hours. Talking about life, taking photos, and eating till we dropped. Eventually we made our way to the tents. Needless to say, with a full stomach and the sound of the river we slept soundly that night. Which was great because the next morning we would set our alarms for a long day up to the lake and back to the car.
When our alarms went off at five am and the pitter patter of rain was hitting the fly of the tent I turned it off with ease. If there wasn’t going to be a sunrise, why not catch a few more hours of sleep. A couple more hours, the rain stopped and we packed our cameras into day bags and made our way up. The reveal of Landslide Lake is quite spectacular. After a steep few kilometers the trees fade and you’re dropped down into the crystal clear waters of the lake. Mount Colonel Foster standing tall in the back, reflecting in the water. After about an hour at the lake, taking photos and watching the clouds swirl it was time to head back. It’s always hard to leave this place. With the rain incoming and a few hours of hiking ahead of us we raced back to camp, packed up the tent, and raced to the trailhead. Hot food and warm beds to motivate. On to the next adventure we went.
Up in the Air with 49 North Helicopters
I remember waking up in the morning to a very unwanted alarm. However, as we had a sunrise helicopter tour waiting for us, getting up has never been easier. First thing I did was look out the window. With the tour being pushed back a day already, and rain in the forecast, I wasn’t optimistic when I looked out the window. It wasn’t pouring but it was sprinkling just enough to fool me into thinking we wouldn’t have a sunrise. Either way, I was excited. Soon enough we were all seated and buckled in the helicopter, flying over the town of Campbell River and into the clouds. We flew in and out of patches of dark clouds heading towards mainland British Columbia. Our pilot Bastian was convinced the farther we flew, the clearer the weather would become. No doubt determined to find the sun. And just like that we flew through a patch of thick clouds and the sun shined in our faces. I was utterly blown away. The next half hour is a bit of a blur for me. Between having my mind blown by the scenery and attempting to capture it all through photographs, I didn’t know where to look. Every thing was amazing and I was overwhelmed and overstimulated in the best kind of way. Then Bastian said “okay that looks like a nice spot to land.” This area is so remote and inaccessible the only hope of reaching the mountains is with a helicopter. It was absolutely amazing to touch down on the summit of a nameless peak to watch the sunrise over the vast wilderness. We may have even been the first people to ever put boots down on our particular mountain. Now that’s a special feeling. After running around taking photos and exploring as much of the area as we could, we all piled back in the heli and lifted into the air. Leaving the peak just as we found it. Our boot prints to soon be covered with new snow or melted by the sun.
Breakfast at Sonora Lodge
Flying over Sonora Island you’d hardly believe the lodge exits. It just seems too good to be true. From the helicopter to the dinning room we were greeted by the friendliest staff. I ordered coffee, french toast, and of course a mimosa. Great conversation filled our table as the sunshine filtered in through the large windows overlooking the water. Reminiscing on the incredible flight we just experienced and the excitement of our breakfast to come. I must say, and I’m not being biased, it was the best breakfast I’ve ever had. With some time to kill we hopped in a golf cart and explored a bit more of what the lodge had to offer. Reveled in the sunshine as we walked along the dock and a short trail along the water. I didn’t want it to end. With a tight schedule we kindly said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and headed onto the next adventure.
Waterfall Chasing in Strathcona Provinical Park
The next day the weather took a turn for the worse. Rain has never stopped me before and I didn’t intend it to now! I’ve found whenever the weather’s poor the best thing to do is to head to a waterfall. In our case, we had three on our list. Nikki’s dog Jazz even decided to join us on this rainy day adventure. Driving along the massive buttle lake as you enter the heart of Strathcona you get the sense of endless possibilities. Trailheads wizz past the window along with various pullouts to enjoy the view. You could easily spend days here. However, we had our hearts set on Lupine, Lady, and Karst Falls. All three hikes are about twenty - forty minutes. Each waterfall is unique in it’s own way. Lupine falls is the highest, crashing to a nearby viewing platform where you can get up close and personal. The Lady Falls trail leads you switchbacking up a bit of a hill to a overlook high above the thunderous falls. Lastly, we explored the lesser known Karst Falls. Personally, it was my favorite. Rather than one large waterfall, Karst is more of a thunderous river with many falls. The trees and rainy weather added to the scene. A wonderful afternoon spent in a moody Pacific Northwest wonderland.
Paddle and Pizza with Island Joy Rides
Of the entire week spent in the Campbell River area this was my favorite activity. Out on the river I was able to stand up paddle board for the first time since a short stint guiding in high school. If felt great to be back on the board with my paddle gliding through the calm water. Once again, the hospitality and utter kindness of our hosts showed. Great conversation with all carried through a mid paddle champagne break (complete with fresh berries), and into dinner. Various kinds of hand tossed pizza baked fresh in a stone oven, fire roasted clams, and even fresh bread. Not to mention all the wine we could drink. I certainly went home full and happy that night. Already looking forward to meeting up with new friends once again.
To learn more about Campbell River please visit their website https://www.campbellriver.travel
The Campbell River area undoubtedly has a lot to offer. A few miles from the town center will take you on a hike along boardwalk through old growth hemlock and cedar trees on the Canyon View Trail, all the way to the cascading falls of Elk Falls Provinical Park. Hop on the water for a whale watching tour, go fishing for monster salmon, or get out for a paddle. Personally, my favorite thing to do is to view everything from up above. More like several thousands of feet up in a floatplane. Land, sea, and air are the elements that make Campbell River the incredible place that it is. Combining these make for the best possible experience. That’s exactly what we did the first two days of our trip!
I have visited Elk Falls many times but never approached via the Canyon View Trail. The trailhead is located just a 10 minute drive from downtown Campbell River. Over the 6km hike there are many highlights. Start by walking along the beautiful Quinsam River which is full of salmon in the later summer months. Weaving through classic Vancouver Island “jungle” are bridges and boardwalks which will take you all the way to a 80 foot bridge spanning the canyon, and eventually to Elk Falls.
Truly a classic Campbell River experience. Elk Falls in itself is reason to visit. A thundering waterfall and a towering suspension bridge make this the most popular natural destination in the area. Be sure to allow several hours to view all angles and walk the various trails.
Searching for Wildlife on the Water and Blind Chanel Resort
I must say, Blind Chanel Resort is defined best by one word, paradise. An hour and a half by boat from downtown Campbell River take you to one of Canada’s best kept secret getaways. Keep a watchful eye for seals, whales, and even bears while your very kind boat driver navigates the waters of the Inside Passage. Arrive at the dock with dolphins swimming near by and check into one of many very quaint cabins. Located right on the water you truly feel “out there” with all the amenities of home. Think you’ll be bored without TV? Think again. Blind Chanel offers several different tours including fishing, wildlife viewing, and kayaking. A true Canadian safari. Several trails to hike will definitely fill your time as well. We felt truly small upon arriving at a 800 year old cedar via a short hike. The memories made here are unforgettable and is definitely somewhere I will return.
Historic Mail flight with Corilair
Small planes have always interested me, and while I’ve flown in many I’ve never landed on water. That changed when we boarded the six seat De Havilland Beaver. It’s quite unique because this is just daily business for the pilots at Corilair. Based on the postal schedule, your pilot will navigate through the Discovery Islands landing at a few off the grid communities. While they deliver packages and letters you have a bit of time to get out and explore. The locals are all very hospitable and will answer all the questions you may have.