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.