Literally I went not only four days into the wilderness but also onto Wilderness. It's one of the better known peaks in the area arround Nuk Tessli, at least it has a name on the maps...
Together with another German/Austrian volunteer couple I set out on a four day camping/trekking/hiking trip even further into the untouched mountain wilderness arround here.
Lucky as we are the weather was supposed to be great during the upcoming days and started out promising as we crossed the lake to the trailhead. The first day was about 6 to 7 hours of hiking but as we had to prepare some cabins and most of all our self in the morning we didn't get going until 12 o'clock. Slowly gaining elevation the trail lead us through the forest, passing several smaller and bigger lakes until reaching the octopus lakes.
From here on the scenery changed drastically as most of the forest burned down in a great fire 2 years ago. With every step we still kicked up the ashes from the ground. In places it looked like it had just burned yesterday. The odd purple flour between all the black and gray was the sign of life left. In other places red glowing huckleberry bushes covered the ground and made the place look quite beautiful.
Once we hit the valley of Wilderness lake the green came back and ashes disappeared. On the shore of the lake stood a beautiful little cabin, that unfortunately doesn't get much sun in the morning and evening (as we were to observe the following days...) Right next to the cabin was one of the most beautiful sandy mountain lake beaches I have ever seen - or actually one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen at all... The water was clear as glass and looked extremely tempting. But we still had quite a way to go and didn't know how much longer it would take us to get to our camping spot. So we went on and decided that we'd take the chance on our next time by.
Following the shoreline to the other side of the lake and passing the swampy wetlands behind we were all the time accompanied by the high above towering peak of wilderness mountain. From down here it looked like an impossible challenge and still it was our destination for the next day. Today's destination was Moonlight Lake, halfway up the south side of the mountain, right at the bottom of one of it's glaciers. Putting all the energy I had left into our last climb up the moraine I got even more rewarded by the beautiful view that opened up infront of me. It was amazing and it was supposed to be our camp spot for the night. After setting up our tents and enjoying some delicious tuna pasta we witnessed a gorgeous sunset. The mountains, the lakes, the colours, no wind, it was perfect!
The next morning we left our tents where they where, just took a 'light' backpack and started climbing up the saddle behind us. I think scrambling is rather the proper word for it than hiking or climbing. Every step we had to double check that the rocks we were stepping on wouldn't start to slide down beneath us. And the saddle top didn't seem to come any closer at all... With heavy beating hearts we finally made it, whether that was because of the long ascent or the adrenaline I couldn't tell. But me and Theresa were both not too sure whether we would be able to make it all the way up to the peak. From the saddle we had to turn onto the rocky, narrow ridge. Way way down below we could still see our tents barely more than tiny spots on the lakeshore, other than that in whatever direction we looked no sign of anybody else - pure wilderness.
Not long after turning onto the ridge I decided to get rid of my backpack, it was too much of a distraction even though I didn't take much. Anyway, with the backpack I left my camera so I unfortunately couldn't document any of the following trail, if you can even call it a trail. Constantly climbing over boulders, nothing left or right we continued all the way to the top. The views were spectacular. Looking south more and more mighty peaks with white shining glaciers came into view. I have never seen as may glaciers before. Once up on top all doubts about going up disappeared, it was more than worth the climb. And going down wasn't half as tricky as I had expected it.
Instead of pushing it and climbing as many peaks as we could in 4 days we decided to take it easy and rather enjoy the way back taking our time. So we spent the next night below the glacier at wilderness lake. As nice as our little Peninsula looked, it wasn't quite the perfect camping spot. In the morning the sun didn't reach us until about 10 and we had to wait quite a while before our tents dried. Nevertheless a beautiful view and as we weren't in a hurry we didn't mind at all. As we got going we tracked back along the shoreline of Wilderness lake to the cabin we saw on our way in. This time we couldn't resist the beautiful little sandy beach and clear water; we had to get in. The water was freezing cold but as the sun hit us now with all its strength it didn't take long and we were dry and warm again, ready to buckle up and make our way up the next 'bouldery' slope. The trail steadily got steeper and steeper and with every step the backpack seemed to become more and more heavy and the sun more and more hot.
In the end it took us about 2 hours to get to the top. The climb was once again well worth it. Up on top it felt like we had just landed on the moon. A huge rocky plateau opened up in front of us. On three sides it simply dropped down into nowhere and on the forth side throned a small glacier with another crisp clear Lake.
Between all the rocks it wasn't as easy as the nights before to find nice spots for our tents, but after some searching arround we found two perfect little sites right next to each other, the glacier and the lake.
Just when I stood directly at the lake shore I realised how incredibly clear the water was. It tricked me as it looked quite shallow from further apart but actually dropped about three meters down straight at shore. So you could find yourself a nice rock at the surface and jump straight from shore head first in the icy water.
After we set up our tents and Theresa and Semi refreshed themself we ventured out to explore the ridge and the behind laying Hidden Lake.
Treating our selfs with lots of couscous for dinner we enjoyed another beautiful sunset over Monarch Mountain. It seemed to never end and I wouldn't have minded watching it for hours. The only not perfect thing where thousands of little blackflies that had decided to accompany us, otherwise I would have probably spent all night outside, watching the stars after the sunset and the sunrise after the stars...
But no, I spent the night in the tent but we all got up early enough to see the sunrise in the morning.
Time flies, it was already the last day of our trip. The three days had passed away way to quick. For one last time we packed up all our gear, buckled up our backpacks and started hiking down the opposite site of where we came from the day before. About half way down we stopped, randomly, saying we should keep our eyes open as today would be our last chance to see some wildlife on our adventure. And there he was - down at the bottom of the mountain, making its way along a lakeshore - a Grizzly! He seemed to be on the search for something, most likely something to eat, stopping here and there but mainly on the move - in our direction. He obviously wasn't aware of us yet and we were still halfway up the mountain, a safe distance away. So we kept observing his little show hoping he would stay low bypassing us so we could continue moving to where we saw him first. He had already moved from our left side to our right site, (a quite impressive long distance for just a few minutes) when he started heading up the mountain. My feet started itching, wanting to move away even though he wasn't any close at all.
It's quite different feeling seeing a Grizzly if you are out there with a heavy backpack and just your feet to walk away or a bear spray to protect you, to sitting in a car and seeing a bear at the side of the road. After seeing this one, the car ones don't even really count anymore... Anyway, back to the bear. A tiny brease must have carried our scent over to the bear as he was just about to climb further up the mountain. He suddenly looked up, turned in our direction, seemed to try to figure out what on earth we are and in the end decided to run away as fast as he could. And that was fast, that's for sure, no way of outrunning a Grizzly...
Anyway, all of ous were happy to have seen him and that we had a nice safe distance between us even though therefore the pictures didn't turn out as great, the experience defenitly counts more!
Just about 10 minutes after we lost sight of him we reached the bottom of Flat top mountain and the exact spot where we first saw the bear.
Continuing on our way without a track (there has never been a 'worn out hiking path' since we first reached the cabin at Wilderness lake on our first day...) we passed several more lakes, beautiful golden shining meadows, red glowing berry fields and tangled dense patches of Brush and Trees. After a little Creek Crossing at Cohen Lake we checked out an old Trappers cabin not far of the shore. Garbage everywhere - right in the middle of nowhere, wilderness everywhere , no soul to be found anywhere close (beside Nuk Tessli) and then that mess. Well, a great place to study the lifespan of different materials...
After walking arround Cohen Lake and beeing back at '... Lake' we once more had to cool our selfs off before climbing in the boat and rising back to Nuk Tessli.
4 days that I will defenitly keep in mind for a long time, the Canada I haven't been dared hoping for anymore...