Dave and I had a great mid-July hike with Ron and Brett up Mount Adder. They were planning a trip a couple of days later to Mount Klitsa, and invited us along on that too. I was totally excited about that – I’ve wanted to do Klitsa for years. My old Tofino friend, artist Mark Hobson, had told me about it, but somehow I never had a chance to get up there. Dave couldn’t go this time – he was packing, leaving for Iceland the next day – but I jumped at the chance!
Along with Ron, Brett and me, Ron had invited two other friends – Jackalyn, and her boyfriend Shane. It got a bit confusing with all the Jackies (me, Jackalyn, and Ron’s wife is also a Jackie – even though she wasn’t hiking with us, she came up in conversation a lot).
Right from the start, the Mount Klitsa Trail was a lot harder than the Mount Adder Trail. Again, we had to 4WD up an overgrown logging road to get to the trailhead. However, we were starting much lower on this one – we would have a lot more elevation to gain on this one (around 1200 m). And, from the start, the trail was much rougher than the new and beautiful groomed Mount Adder Trail – through forest, but with lots of big roots and logs to climb over, and big mossy rocks to squeeze between. And uphill from the start – so slow going.
Jackalyn and to be back in town by 5, so we had a firm deadline: we needed to be back at the truck by 4:30. As we climbed, an old knee injury she had became aggravated and slowed her down. We stopped at the beautiful lake that is about halfway up, for a bite to eat and a bit of a break. The trail got very steep above the lake – then, finally, we broke out of the forest and into the alpine.
It was getting tight as to whether we would make the summit. Jackalyn and Shane decided not to try, and to head back to the lake and wait for us there. Ron and Brett and I decided to give it a shot – setting a firm turnaround time of 1pm, so Jackalyn wouldn’t risk missing her appointment in town.
This was a hard hike – much much harder than Mount Adder, both in terms of total amount of climbing and just how rough the trail was. As we got up into the rocks and scree, we could no longer see any cairns or other route markers. We did our best to keep on the right track – at times getting caught in some steep and loose terrain. The final approach to the summit was super-steep,and very loose and rocky. It was getting near 1:00, and I suggested that we should maybe reassess – maybe we should turn around now, since it didn’t look like we were going to make the top by the turnaround time anyway. But they wanted to try, crossing a big sloped boulder field – and then we found some route markers again.
It got hairy again as we approached the summit. I could see a cairn that we would have to go across the slope to get to, but Brett wanted to go straight up a slot up to the top – which looked doable from where we were. Problem is, when you are looking up like that, your judgement of what is horizontal and what is vertical gets a bit skewed – the end of the slot was pretty scary and cliffy, but we made it … making the summit at 12:55pm, a full five minutes before the turnaround! The view from these mountaintops is just so amazing – as you realize how many mountains there are here on Vancouver Island.
We had a very quick lunch up there, snapped some photos, then headed down. It was much easier to see the best route from above, so we were able to avoid most of the cliffy bits and that sloped boulder field entirely, and make good time on the way down. We caught up with Shane and Jackalyn at the lake as planned – they were happy and relaxed – and we all headed down together, making it back to the truck just in time! Another amazing day in the mountains, so lucky where we live here on Vancouver Island!