Posted on behalf of Steve Ludwig and TAP Hiking Guide Exam participants
ACMG Hiking Guide exam completed a 4 day backpacking trip in the Quartz Lake area from June 15th to 18th. Weather conditions were still early spring-like with looming cornices and evidence of previous wide-spread avalanche activity and rockfall. The lake was mostly frozen but thawing rapidly. The snow depth above elevation 2000m was up to a metre. Warmer daytime temperatures and a lack of overnight freeze made travel on snow challenging and slow (postholing was the name of the game).
Day 1: Quartz Creek FSR is in good condition for driving, with a few bigger rutted sections, so not recommended for low clearance vehicles. The trail to Quartz Lake was in good condition. There is an area of tree debris 1.8km from the trailhead that requires a reroute to a section of the trail that is partly flooded. Snow began around 1800m elevation and became deep quickly. Travel was slow through the snow and our group camped at the north end of Quartz Lake.
Day 2: Moved to camp in the meadow above Quartz Lake via the east side of the lake. The terrain was dynamic as we traveled through boulder fields, snow slopes and small forested sections. We took a high route through the trees along the edge of the lake, dropping lower through the scree field and avalanche debris up a ramp to the meadow at GR 801967 (WGS84). The stream through the meadow was open. After setting up camp we climbed to a plateau above the camp location in the afternoon.
Day 3: The group reached a high point of 2450m at GR 789 970 (WGS84) via pass at GR 792 966 (WGS84). The final section to the summit ridge is exposed with rockfall hazard, strong movement skills required. Group descended in the afternoon to camp at the north end of Quartz Lake via the east side of the lake, finding a lower, easier travel route that stayed closer to the lakeshore.
Day 4: Hiked out the Quartz Lake trail. Group cleared some fallen trees along the trail that were small enough to cut with a handsaw, and marked the trail better through the deadfall area.
The weather cycled from sunny to cloudy with a small trace of rain over the four days. The wind remained calm, and primarily from the SW.
Spring wildflowers, such as Calypso Orchids, are up along the Quartz Creek trail. There is evidence of bear activity along the Quartz Lake trail, including scat and fresh bear claw marks on trees. Group saw possible coyote tracks in the snow along upper Quartz Lake trail.
Hiking Guide Exam Candidates: Diana Diaconu, Cindy Flegel, Mark Mitchell, and Clark Lyster
Course Instructor: Stephen Ludwig