Wilderness Alpine Trek with pack horses
Hut-to-hut to 3 alpine camps (Brett Creek, Liza Lake, and Grizzly Lake)
DAY 1 Shuttle — Vancouver to Ranch — Historical and Cultural Tour of BC’s Fraser Canyon
On Chilcotin Holidays’ shuttle bus from the Guildford Sheraton Hotel in Surrey, BC (approximately a 5-hour drive) you’ll travel along Hwy. 1 — the gateway to north and east British Columbia — into the Fraser Canyon and learn about the beginning of the historic Gold Rush Trail. This scenic mountainous highway has been traversed by many travellers on foot, horse, rail, and vehicle and dates back to the first native peoples, fur traders, gold seekers, the building of the Canadian National Railway in the early 1900s, to the early pioneers that cleared and settled the land. It’s an enlightening and thoroughly educational ride to Gold Bridge where you’ll begin your incredible wilderness adventure.
After a midday ranch meal, your group will receive a thorough orientation of the area and trails and repack your personal gear into duffel bags provided. It’s a half-hour drive to the trail head where you’ll begin your guided wilderness trek to Brett Creek Camp. This camp is located at an elevation of 6,500 feet (1,980m) and set amongst miles of spectacular brocaded wildflower meadows with a healthy population of mule deer and California bighorn sheep in the surrounding area. The 3–4 hour hike covers approximately 3 miles (5km) and has an elevation change of 2,500 feet (762m). Dinner and overnight at camp.
A full day’s hike starts after breakfast. Heading south to Rex Peak from camp at an elevation of 6,500 feet (1,980 m) you’ll enjoy the trek through alpine meadows and marvel at the sighting of grizzly bears that frequent the meadows for its rich alpine grasses. At the top of Rex Peak, situated at 7,500 feet (2,280 m), you’ll have lunch and take in the spectacular views before heading back to camp via Shulaps Peak Ridgeline. To the east, enjoy the vistas of Camels Foot Range and Fraser Pateau, and to the west is Cardtable Mountain, Castle Pass, and Mount Sheba.
DAY 3 Suicide Mountain Ridge to Liza Lake
Today will be your most challenging hike covering 9 miles (15 km) and the highlight of the trip due to the terrain and elevation change of 2,500 feet (762m). After an early breakfast, hike from Brett Creek Camp — skirting around the Shulaps Mountain Range — up and across Jade Mountain which is known for its beautiful outcroppings of jade and the summer feeding grounds for California bighorn sheep and mountain goats. From Jade Mountain you’ll hike over the pass to Suicide Mountain Ridge which peaks at 8,500 feet (2,590 m) with a perfect view of the Shulaps’ Icefields, as you make your way down to Liza Lake Camp, situated in a narrow lush valley just below treeline at 6,500 feet (1,980 m).
DAY 4 Big Sheep Mountain / Noaxe Lake and onto Grizzly Lake
To ease your recovery from yesterday’s arduous trek, day 4 is more leisurely covering 9 miles (15 km) but only having an elevation change of 1,000 feet (304 m). It’s also the best opportunity for sighting grizzly bears. After breakfast, walk through the alpine meadows and up along Big Sheep Mountain for a picnic in the flowering open meadows. Be sure to watch for sightings of California bighorn sheep on Big Sheep Mountain — it’s a favourite grazing spot. You’ll resume the hike along the treeline, passing Big Dog Mountain, and onto Noaxe Lake where you’ll take a break and practice fishing. With any luck, barbecue fish will be a nice addition for dinner — then onto Grizzly Lake Camp, an hour’s hike away. This camp makes a perfect spot to capture photos of bighorn sheep and mule deer for there’s a natural mineral lick located above camp.
DAY 5 Grizzly Lake Loop — Big Dog Mountain to Wild Horse Lake and Back
This hiking loop starts east of camp from Grizzly Pass and follows a main mule deer mass migration trail. Up Shulaps Mountain to the top of Big Dog Mountain are spectacular views of glaciers to the south. You’ll see grizzly bears and moose grazing on the valley bottom, while California bighorn sheep view you from the craggy peaks above. Like the sheep, you’ll traverse the wide gentle scree slopes to the game trails at the valley bottom. As you hike past Wild Horse Lake, on our way back to camp, you’ll have covered a total distance of 7–9 miles (12–15km).
DAY 6 Grizzly Lake Camp to Swartz Lake
The final hike leaves Grizzly Lake and heads over Quartz Mountain at an elevation of 6,780 feet (2,060 m) where you’ll be able to see Buck Mountain and Poison Mountain in the distance. The famous Chilcotin Plateau can also be captured at this location along with remnants of the past as seen in one of the few remaining wild horse herds that roam the land. At Swartz Lake, you’ll have reached the trailhead and hiked approximately 7 miles (12 km), with an elevation change of 1,000 feet (304 m). It’s a 1 hour drive back to the guest ranch where you’ll have time to freshen up, and join everyone in our celebratory meal and certificate-giving ceremony. Spend the evening relaxing around the ranch.
DAY 7 Relax at the Ranch and Shuttle to Vancouver
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast then watch the horse riders bareback ride in the pasture. Depart after a hearty lunch.