Marble Meadows Trail to Wheaton Hut
Sign at the Philips Creek Marine campsite
This is a fantastic over night hike that I was invited on by my friend Melissa from nursing school. She completed the COLT program through the Strathcona Lodge and has always been a great hiking pal. The night before the start of our hike we drove to Upper Campbell Lake and camped with a couple of my Campbell River friends. Melissa and I carried on the next morning towards Gold River on Hwy 28. Instead of continuing on to Gold River over the bridge to the right, we headed straight towards Ralph River and the Westmin Mine.
We stopped at the Augerpoint Point day-use area and unloaded the canoe and all of our gear. This was the first trip our dogs had ever met and we had our fingers crossed that all would go smoothly once we had them loaded together in the boat...
It was a success, the dogs did great. It was still earlyish in the morning, about 0800, and the lake was calm, making for a quick 20-25 min paddle. We arrived at Philips Creek Marine site and dragged the canoe up onto shore. The weather was clear and sunny and the creek was a beautiful clear blue where it emptied into the lake.
We started heading up the many switch backs at around 0900. The trail here is well maintained and marked. It was definitely quite the grunt to make it up to the meadows.
Melissa below me on the switch backs
Slowly we emerged from the forest below and arrived in the meadows around 1315. Here there were some amazing views of the mountains to the east and lake below. The dogs had a great old time running together on flatter ground.
Entering Marble Meadows
From here we started to see many small lakes along the way and ran into some small patches of snow. We spent a bit of time looking at the various limestone, basalt, and granite layers. From here I thought we were basically at the cabin, boy was I wrong... The hike continued, slowly climbing higher and higher through the meadows for a good couple hours. We did stop once for lunch at what I think was Globeflower lake.
The weather slowly became less and less sunny and more and more cloudy. The trail became a little less trodden and harder to stick to. Because it was a bit later in September, it started to get a tad chilly. By about 1530 we arrived at the Wheaton Hut. From here there are great views of Mt Mcbride and Morrison Spire.
Inside the cabin
The hut is very neat. It has a ground level area with a good bench for cooking. People have left some odds and ends along the way. Up a steep ladder there is a loft for sleeping and somehow we heaved my dog and Melissa's 90lb dog up the ladder to sleep.
That night we tucked into our cozy sleeping bags and talked about nursing school and Melissa's crazy COLT adventures with cougars sniffing her in the middle of the night. As we were falling asleep I could hear mice scurrying around the bottom of the cabin. They didn't dare come up to the loft with the dogs. That is one benefit to travelling with a hairy mutt.
In the middle of the night I awoke to whistling wind and heavy rain coming down on the metal roof of the cabin. A storm had rolled in. At this point I could roll over and snuggle deeper into my sleeping bag, but in the morning that would not be the case.
We stumbled out of the cabin loaded for home the next morning at about 0630. Not long into the hike I was soaked to the bone because I did not bring a very waterproof jacket... We didn't stop at all on the hike down and just hustled for the canoe.
The hike out soaked
Eventually we arrived back at the canoe. We looked across the blustery lake coated in small white caps... Already wet and cold we threw the canoe loaded with dogs and gear into the water and decided to brave the terrible paddling conditions. This was probably my third time ever in a canoe, (the second time only being the day previous) and it was horrendous! The dogs had a spat or two throughout the trip and were also not enjoying this situation. In fact about 100m off shore and all out brawl erupted adding more turbulence to the already very unsteady canoe. Melissa yelled louder then I had ever heard her before and we scrambled to grab the dogs. They calmed and skulked back down into the belly of the canoe. After this incident we still had most of the lake to paddle. At some points we got sideways with waves crashing over and I was constantly feeling like we were on the verge of tipping.
Finally we reached the other side! I felt like I had been at sea for weeks... Turns out I was only on Buttle Lake for 30mins... We loaded our wet gear into the car, changed into some dry clothes, and made a break for Campbell River. Here we celebrated our hike with lunch at Dicks Fish & Chips on the dock. Yum! I would like to do this same hike again as a two-nighter and include day trips to Morrison Spire and Mt McBride.
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