We don’t know if anyone has actually run this before – so we are claiming the world record for this route! If anyone has already done this, we will back down – but for the moment, we consider ourselves the record holders (legends in our own minds, you might say…)
So I’m not actually sure if this was Dave’s idea or mine – to run up to Della Falls and, if we were making good enough time, to continue right on up to Love Lake (up and down in a day) – but, whose-ever idea it was, the other one agreed right away.
I’ve wanted to go to Della Falls for a decade or more. It’s the highest waterfalls in North America – located in Strathcona Provincial Park, in the middle of Vancouver Island – but very hard to get to. The main Strathcona trails don’t connect to this side of the mountains. You have to come in south of the Park, from the Port Alberni side – and even then there is not road access to the trailhead. You have to travel 40 km down Great Central Lake to get to it! Lucky for me, Dave’s dad has a boat!
So we left Port Alberni at 5:15, launched the boat at 6:00, made the trailhead at 6:40, and started running at 6:57am. The route would have us pass the main Della Falls campground (near the base of the waterfalls), approximately 16 km in and at an elevation of about 600 m. If we were doing OK, we would continue on up to Love Lake, well above the Falls – we are not exactly sure how much farther in Love Lake was, probably another 5 km or so, but on a much steeper trail, more than doubling our net elevation gain for the day, to about 13oo m.
We made really good time – saw a bear early on. The weather had been great for the previous few weeks, so the trail was dry and in great shape. And the weather was amazing for us, too – some clouds in the morning, but clearing and warming up more and more as the day progressed.
We stopped to take photos whenever we felt like it, and still made it to Love Lake in 4:44, at 11:41. It was so amazing up there (wait til you see the video that we’ll be posting soon) that we stayed up there nearly 2 hours, enjoying the view, and basking in the hot sunshine on the rocks, and eating our lunch. We left there at 1:40, made it down to the Della Falls campground, and took the side trail right to the base of the Falls (approx. 1 km each way). Then we continued back down to lake – moving fast, now, on the really good part of the trail, to arrive back at the boat at 6:25.
And just when you think the day could not have been any more perfect… a few km short of arriving back at the trailhead, Dave heard something crack in the bush. So we stopped.
And there, below us, walking along the river bank, was a giant bull elk! He was the size of a horse, but massive – his muscles rippling like a toro. His antlers, also, were just massive – so hard to imagine how an animal that size, with a rack that size, can move through the forest. Dave and I have seen elk tracks on our other runs, and Dave has seen elk before. But it was a first for me.
So our total time was 11:28 – including all rest stops. Like I said, for now we are claiming it as the record. It should be easy to break for anyone who wants to, though (with our two hours spent at the top, not to mention other photo/filming stops along the way…).
But, honestly, when you go somewhere like that, it would be a shame to not stop and enjoy the views!
For a Della Falls route map, check out: http://islandhikes.com/Hikes/Dellafalls/DellaFallsmap.html