Friday, July 10, 2009

Della Falls trip

The Della Falls trail was not as hard as I expected. There, I said it.

The river crossing did not require rope. It required the use of the muscles in my legs.

It was disappointing to see a damaged bridge in a B.C. Park left dangling dangerously and impassable for a second summer.

Strathcona Park is the oldest in B.C., designated in 1911. It cuts a big chunk out of central Vancouver Island and is mostly accessible from Comox and Campbell River. I hope that this corner of the 250,000 hectare park isn't forgotten as Della Falls draws many visitors each year to the Alberni Valley end of the rugged mountain area.

After crossing Drinkwater Creek, I sat on the rocks patting myself on the back and puffing my chest out, then carried on to a river-side camp site about 3 km from the falls.

I camped at that spot, rather than right at Della Falls, thanks to a tip from Tony Greenfield, author of the recently released Waterfalls of British Columbia guidebook. I interviewed him for a story about his book and he said not to carry the heavy pack the extra distance but to day hike to the falls and Love Lake, which I did, and it worked perfectly.

As I scrambled up the bank to rejoin the main trail, I though to myself 'must remember this spot'. Didn't help. The only problem I had on the trail was finding that crossing spot on my way back out. I lost about an hour, and a lot of energy, going back and forth, looking for the way down.

I felt some urgency because my water taxi would be waiting at the dock on Great Central Lake at a pre-arranged time. I planned for a swim and lounging in the sun, but sweating it up and down a rocky path was eating into that time.

I looked at the dangerous remnants of the bridge three times and saw too much potential for a fatal fall. Eventually I bushwhacked my way down to where I thought the crossing should be and I wasn't far off.

After the crossing, I walked the remaining 11km without a break, which felt like a bit of a feat after two full days of hiking with the big pack. Over the final 7km I had little choice but to motor as the clouds of starving mosquitos were relentless.

I arrived at the dock 25 minutes before my ride. I got my swim in and sat looking back down the Valley. Then Bruce from Ark Resort showed up with cold beer in his restored 1973 motorboat to take me the 45 km across the lake.

Over the three days I logged 45 kms on my boots and I would do that trip again in a heartbeat.


Anonymous said...

Just stumbled on your blog, Heather. Good to think of you outside in the clear air instead of the "other".
I'm out there in the air too, on my bike in Vermont, dodging thunderstorms. We're camping, but forced to take cover in a swank hotel. Headed east and looking forward to the Maritimes.
Love your blog, and will stay tuned to hear what's going on in Heatherworld.
yer old AVT pal, jill

Heather Reid said...

Hello Jill,

So nice to hear from you and about your cross-continent adventure.

Sometimes refuge in the swanky hotel is needed to carry on dodging thunderstorms!

Also glad to think of you on the road instead of in the "other".

Keep in touch


Anonymous said...

Yeah, you GO, Girl! Nice work on the Falls trip - I will direct punters to your blog, when I am next asked about the condition, intensity, etc. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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