Share post:

I have been wanting to return to Marble Meadows for some time. The only time I had visited previously was during the Golden Hinde Traverse when we came out through the meadows and down the long winding trail to Buttle Lake. I remember coming down thinking, I would not want to come up this way, well here I am. The trail features 120+ switchbacks and 1300 meters elevation gain in just over 6km. In addition, the trail is accessible via boat in access only, so you must cross Buttle Lake to even begin the climb. Despite this, it’s a popular trail and well cut.

Day 1: The Climb to Marble Meadows

I left early from Victoria at just after 6am. Parking lot was full on arrival on this Saturday morning. As I loaded my kayak for the journey across, four other parties were preparing to cross. Paddling across by kayak was a leisurely trip, and I so enjoyed looking down into the crystal-clear waters of Buttle Lake. Upon arrival at the outlet of Phillips Creek, I was greeted by thousands of tiny little toads along the shoreline. I could see clouds of what looked like additional eggs in the water as well. Little buggers were everywhere I had to be really careful not to step on them while getting ashore.

With the kayak stowed and pack reloaded, I started the long climb up. It just keeps going. I took a long break at the water source halfway up. My pace slowed in the afternoon as the day started to catch up with me. I achieved the ridge in about 4 hours.

Not as busy as I thought it might be in the lakes district. Couple parties here and there, lots of space to spread out. Plenty of crystal-clear water in the lakes, thankfully.

I stopped at Marble Rock Lake to set camp under a small patch of trees on the shore of the lake. Great spot with lots of afternoon sun. Took a jump in the lake, air dried, then made camp.

I weighed options about moving the camp forward. I had originally planned for at least Wheaton hut, or up on the Phillips ridge trail to get closer to McBride and the limestone cap. My guess is Wheaton is where all the parties are, so was happy with my quiet spot with good sun, water, and swimming.

Two long day trips ahead with hopes for submitting Mount McBride and exploring the limestone cap in some detail.

Day totals 9.6km | 1382 elevation | 5h39min

Day 2: Mount McBride Summit

I decided to head for Mount McBride on day two as the weather was looking favorable. It was a long day of trekking through a variety of interesting terrain. The meadow that starts at the trail junction and follows the path that goes up to Phillips ridge was really beautiful. Into the fields of limestone that were remarkably coloured and particularly jagged. Up into the ridge, with more shields of limestone mixed amongst a diverse array of rock.

The trail up McBride is on the west side of the mountain. There is a fairly steep section as the trail turns upwards from the waterfall. There was a good amount of snow in the gully, so I went up the right side. This takes you higher up on the ridge. I returned on the left side which picks up lower, but this resulted in some significant downclimbing as I got stopped out and could not cross the steep snowfield.

Outstanding views from the top. It’s a near vertical drop in some places and there were some steep chutes. So many mountains in view. I don’t stay too long and made my way back along the ridge.

I returned just in time to enjoy the afternoon sun and a jump in the lake.

Day totals 17.9km | 1310 elevation | 9h51min

Day 3: Journey to the Limestone Cap

Woke up to light rain, which delayed my start. Certainly, I was glad that I did McBride the previous day. Starting down the trail with intention to visit the Limestone Cap, the rain kicked up again affording me an excuse for a leisurely second cup of coffee in the Wheaton Hut.

I made the left at the trail junction where I had gone right the previous day for Mount McBride. I started to recognize some of the terrain in this section from our traverse from the Elk River. We spent our last night in this area by a large tarn. There are far fewer cairns along this route, perhaps less traveled. Some interesting and challenging terrain in this area as you approach the cap.

I marvel at the Limestone Cap; I find it quite interesting both from viewing afar and while on top of it. Today I opted for the former as the weather was still a bit dicey and it was later than I had hoped when I approached the dip just before climbing up to the cap.

I decided to climb up onto the ridge and summit Morrison Spire instead. It was a little challenging finding the route up, but once on the ridge it was an easy approach. After the summit I continued along the ridge meeting the McBride trail down and back to the junction.

Opting for a new camp as I had gained noisy neighbors the previous night. I set up at Limestone Lake closer to the trail heading down for the next day.

Day totals 15.36km | 919 elevation | 6h48min

Day 4: Decent

On the final morning, I woke early and began the long walk down to Buttle Lake. I could taste a warm breakfast in Campbell River and had eyed up the Ideal Cafe on a previous trip. It turned out to be wonderful and a well-earned cap on a great trip.

Trip Video

Nootka Island Trail Maintenance Trip
Kayaking the Nuchatlitz Islands

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.