Last year I tried to reach Tenquille Lake in a very difficult time of the year, today was my second attempt from the bottom of the road. I saw an old truck that make me believe I wasn't going to be alone, but I never saw anyone on my way up to the lake.
To get there, follow Highway 99 north to Pemberton. Zero the odometer at the junction with Petro Canada and go left towards the village and follow the signs to the Hurley River Road. It's more or less 25 kilometres through the Pemberton Valley until you reach the Hurley Road intersection.
Go right on the paved road to the bridge. On the other side of the bridge it is the trailhead.
Total driving distance from Petro Canada at Pemberton: 49 km.
Trailhead Elev: 250 m N 50:30.140 W 122:58.020
On my way up I have some views of Lillooet River, this river has been providing sport for whitewater kayakers since the invention of fibreglass. The Lillooet River can be treacherous, owing to the numbers of submerged sweepers brought down into the river as a result of logging and slope instability, particularly in the Meager Creek drainage.
Pemberton Valley and Lillooet River
As last year, the snow appeared at around 1000 m (3280 ft), the hardened snow make my snowshoes useless and I continued my hike on the traditional way. I started to have views of the now familiar Gott Peak.
After reaching the slopes of Wolverine Valley, instead of crossing Wolverine Creek I tried an alternative route on the slopes of Copper Mound
Copper Mound is my reference point to know there is still one hour to reach the lake. In the 1920s, Copper Mound as other mountains surrounding Tenquille was riddled with mining claims.
After several kilometers of uphill, the trail abruptly pops out of the forest into several avalanche paths on the southeast flank of Goat Peak and avalanche chutes of Copper Mound. From here I was presented with a breathtaking panorama of the valley.
From the pictures you can see the destructive force of avalanches. A considerable amount of snow as melted but still you can see how powerfult the snow can be. The only people I know visit this place during winter and early spring are from Environment Canada (via helicopter)
An avalanche is a very large slide of snow or rock down a mountainside, caused when a buildup of snow is released down a slope, and is one of the major dangers faced in the mountains. An avalanche consists of rapidly moving granular material that has exceeded the critical static friction threshold and thereby causes additional material to exceed its threshold as well, in a cascading effect.
Toe of an avalanche
Due to the complexity of the subject, winter travelling in the backcountry (off-piste) is never 100% safe. Good avalanche safety is a continuous process, including route selection and examination of the snowpack (something I am still learrning), weather conditions, and human factors.
In summer it's very tempting to spend hours exploring this area, just remember that the thin soil and short-growing season in the alpine means the meadows can easily be damaged and take many years to recover, if at all.
Finally I was reaching the last part of my hike.
The first miners looking for gold, silver and lead visited this area in 1909. Mineral exploration formally began in 1916, during the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Between 1923 and 1937, work was conducted on the Gold King and Dora May claims, and the Li-Li-Kel property. The zinc-rich skarn and shear-hosted vein type mineralization on the Gold King and Dora May were explored by several opencuts and diamond drilling. Little other work was conducted until the 1960s when Phelps Dodge Corp. carried out exploration work in the area. .
Descending towards the lake
Various other companies have conducted limited exploration throughout the surrounding area since. In 1990, Teck Corp. staked the Apollo, Sun and God claims of the Sungod property covering the Silver Bell prospect. The occurrence is reported to have been developed by at least three adits.
In summer, the main trail leads to a Forest Service campsite for people staying overnight. Other trails go around the lakeshore, the perfect place for a long lunch break and more views of the sorrounding mountains.
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Tenquille Lake (left view) / Sun God Mountain (far background), Mounts Ronayne and Barbour
Directly south I had views of Crown Mountain (not show in the picture). Near the summit of that mountain it was a large cabin, two mine shafts and numerous trails leading to other sites. By 1929, most of the Tenquille Creek country has been staked.
If you are looking for the cabin, forget it, it won't be visible for another 45 days. The old cabin was built in the mid 1940s by a group of Pemberton residents, headed by Sandy Ross and Morgan MIller. Tenquille Lake was a favourite destination for families, but not many owned tents. The windows, stove and many of the kitchen utensils, cutlery, tin plates and mugs were retrieved from abandoned mines in the area.
On my way back, I had some views of Mount Ipsoot on the background. "Ipsoot" means "hidden" or "to hide" in the Chinook Jargon. This seems to have been chosen as the name for Ipsoot Mtn because the peak, and the icefield, are hidden from the valley below..
My last view before going back into the bushes. this was the begginning of my long journey back to Juanmobile.
How I got Lost:
I started my hike at 11:00 a.m. and I reached the lake close to 5:00 p.m. On my way back I crossed the avalanche path of Copper Mound where I reached the last coordinate given by my GPS. Once into the bush, I was unable to find the original path I followed on my way up.
1. 6:00 p.m. I though I was going over the trailhead and I started to descent.
2. 6:30 p.m. I reached a claircut and then I knew I was already lost. I tried to go uphill but there were many logs and the terrain very steep. Besides, the mosquitoes were driving me crazy, I tried to go on a straight line hoping that eventually I was going to be able to reach the trailhead. I almost fall on a cliff but fortunately I didn't allow my nerves to take control over me. After this big scare I keep going on a straight line on very steep terrain.
3. 10:00 p.m. Time to stop, I was able to see that I have to cross a very steep part of the mountain and I decided to spend the night looking at the stars. Because of the steep terrain I was unable to sleep on a flat position, I used a rock to hold my legs, my left arm grabbing a laid log and my right arm with a bear spray.
I resumed my hike at 4:30 a.m. and I was glad I didn't continue the night before.
4. 5:30 a.m. I started to follow what I believe were faint bear trails, I arrived to a viewpoint and then I realized I was way out of the original trail. It was not way I can reached it from that point.
5. 6:00 a.m. Another viewpoint with feathers on the floor (feeding point of mr. Bear?). For a second I though in waiting for someone to rescue me, but somehow I had the feeling that Roelof didn't phone Pemberton District Search and Rescue (you get to know your friend's minds after a while). From the viewpoint I evaluated the terrain and I decided to make the wildest descent I have ever done in my life. Mostly loose rock, with a lot of bush on a dried creek. Finally at 7:00 a.m. I was on the road and 20 minutes later I reached Juanmobile.
1. 50:30.140-122:58.020 Elev 250 m Parking Lot - Trailhead
2. 50:32.034-122:57.181 Elev 1556 m Junction with Tenquille Lake Trail
3. 50:32.247-122:55.970 Elev 1705 m Cabin
4. 50:32.135-122:55.748 Elev 1643 m Tenquille Lake
Roundtrip length: 26 km (16 miles) - If you don't get lost
Allow 7 hours - In my case 20.5 hours
Elevation gain: 1460 m (4790 ft)
Driving distance from Vancouver: 200 km (125 miles)