There’s a lot of great alpine hiking and mountaineering access in the Pass, that stretch of highway between Tofino and the rest of the Island. 50-40, Mount Arrowsmith, Nahmint — there are tons of good ones. My friend Nathalie and I met up at Marion Main to access Jack’s Peak.
Like most hikes in the area, the route starts with a long ascent on a deactivated logging road. In about two hours, we reached the hydro dam. From there, it’s a bushwhack, flagged periodically with pink tape. That, plus the use of a GPS, made the trail easy to find. The route is steep, and thick with brush, but it only takes half an hour or so. Despite all the brush, the forest was beautiful, and we even found a rare yew tree. I’ve seen yellow cedar over on the 50-40 hike, and I’m sure the Jack’s Peak area has it too.
The brush opens up onto mossy rocks, and a lookout over the lake. We didn’t actually continue up to Jack’s Peak that day, though. The lake was our goal, and we figured we’d decide how much more to do once we got there. What happened when we got there was awesome bright sunshine, and a really unusual warm breeze coming from across the lake. Instead of heading into the shadows to summit Jack’s Peak, we hung out on the moss in the sun for a leisurely hour, watching ravens and eagles, and planning a true ascent for next time. There’s a 12-hour loop you can do, heading up from the lake lookout to Jack’s Peaks, and on along Blak Ridge. But that day, we were happy to just soak up the sun. Gaia, Nathalie’s dog, seemed content too. She burrowed into a comfy spot and went to sleep. Nath puts a harness on her for longer hikes, in case of an injury, which has happened before. The harness has grips, which makes it easy for Nath to heft Gaia on top of her pack and carry her out if necessary. It chills Gaia out a little bit too, because when the harness goes on, Gaia knows she could be in for a long day of hiking, and she paces herself.
We stopped halfway down, and had a great view of Pogo and Triple Peak. Nath’s boyfriend and another friend of ours were hiking Triple Peak on the same day. Checking out the summit with binoculars, we were actually able to see them on top of Triple Peak. Just lucky timing. We spent a while trying to zoom in and take a photo for them, magnified through the binoculars, but it didn’t really work. We finished the hike in tank tops, January feeling like June. Conditions were perfect that day. We said goodbye and took opposite turns on Highway 4; Nathalie back to Tofino, and me, home.