Mount Cokely: The Kids Ontop

In Activity, Family, Island Mountain Ramblers, Mountaineering, Nanaimo Regional District by ExploringtonLeave a Comment

Dear Hemingway and Octavia,

Time tends to run away from me when I’m not looking. Mired in the day to day conflicts that arise between parents and kids, it feels like we’re standing still; Like we’ll never get out of this stage –whatever it is– and onto the next. But, every so o16ften, I’m reminded how much you’ve each grown, and that time is racing forward.

Scrambling up from the saddle to the ridge — photo by John Young

Approximately 10 km and 850 m elevation gain over 6.5 hours

On August 16, we joined a group led by John Young, a trip up the Saddle Route to Mount Cokely and down Rosseau Ridge. A week earlier, we were hiking the Judges Route on Mount Arrowsmith, and I learned that the alpine flowers were making a great show in the saddle. I was excited to take you both up to see them. I knew the route would be challenging for us, but I was confident we could manage the route’s hazards. I recced the route last summer in preparation for the day I’d bring you two.

Only the stiff breeze made the hot air tolerable and kept us from overheating until after lunch. Our group moved at the ideal pace for our family. I was grateful because you two always need extra time for drinks and snacks, no matter the pace.

fighting to get up first

Beginning the hike, I had four areas of concern. The first proved no problem for you two, the handline up the rock slab. I brought Hemingway’s harness and a 30 m rope, expecting I might need to belay you up, but you both clamoured up the rock and rope without issue. It was only me trying to prevent you from piling overtop of each other that slowed us up. It was really entertaining to watch Octavia throw her tiny body over the log midway up the slope.

The saddle in bloom

The meadow leading to the saddle was the highlight of the day for me. You both took your time to explore the flowers and bugs, taking photos and sniffing. The second area of concern was the scramble from the saddle to the upper ridge. At the saddle, the group had a short break, and while we all enjoyed some food and a drink, I set up the rope into a kiwi-coil incase Hemingway wanted the assistance up the scramble. Good luck! I had to keep calling for you to hold up! My concern that you would freeze crumbled away to a worse fear; you have no sense of danger! While I shouldered Octavia up to the final step and helped her up, Hemingway scampered up the rock and waited on the windy ridge.

up to the ridge, photo by Hemingway

On our way to the third obstacle, the short scramble up the summit block to the tower, I was the one scampering. Where the route edges between some shrubs and bluff’s edge, I rushed forward to keep an arm between Tavi and oblivion. At first, she looked at me like I was getting in her way, but then she looked over the edge. Eyes bulging, she twittered without slowing in her step, “Woah! Look at that. It’s so far down”.

lunch at the tower

We caught up to Hemingway as we started the bushy scramble to the summit. But after the saddle, this proved no issue. We ate our lunch in the warm wind, had some playtime on the towers’ base, and then started home. Coming down proved no more challenging than up.

descending from the summit block

The final step on the ridge was the third obstacle of concern. As the others scrambled up the step, we took shelter in the shade created by the scraggly limbs of a gnarled alpine evergreen. When our turn came, I gave Hemingway a boost to get him started, and while he waited at the top with John, he climbed up right behind Tavi. She moved cautiously and listened as I pointed where to grab and what to step on. In a few minutes, everyone was moving along to the final obstacle.

My last area of concern was the gully descending the ridge. Aside from one gravelly downsloping moment of anxiety where I instructed Hemingway — repeatedly– “be in control of your body,” the route was easier to manage than I anticipated. Tucked deep in the gully and hugging the cliff as it rose beside us, we were safe. But, we were also sheltered from any breeze, and the heat was stifling. Amid our descent, around hour five, Hemingway finally broke. A moment of tears and whining to go home was short-lived when I pointed out that we were on our way back to the car and that everyone was hot and tired. He looked around at the other members of our party and must have found a reflection on their weary, sweaty faces. After a few minutes to sit and drink, and a handful or two of mountain blueberries, we were on our way again.

lets gooooo!

When we do these hikes, I can see in both of you, your growth and skill development, and the blossoming determination. Many adults won’t participate in a six and half hour hike, but you two keep coming with me. Looking back on the day, it’s incredible what you both accomplished. But more importantly, our adventures create moments of significance that are easily compared to those that came before, and I realize that time is flying.

I love you two.

View the full album on Google Photos

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Matthew is an adventure blogger and photographer. He documents his adventures on His stories create a vivid backdrop that give his photographs cotext. He finds his adventures with the Island Mountain Ramblers, and whenever possible, his family joins his adventures.

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