Stein Valley 2012
A Victoria Day weekend hike to the rainshadow of the Coast Mountains. The struggles in the 1980s and 90s to protect the Stein from logging are legendary among the environmentalist movement in BC and will not be recounted here, but we owe a debt of gratitude to those who helped to save the valley.
Access is from the West Side Forest Service Road, which runs down from Lillooet but is more easily accessed by the Lytton reaction ferry across the Fraser River just north of Lytton. This ferry is powered by the current of the river, and usually shuts down every spring when spring runoff raises the water level. We were lucky and it didn’t happen until a couple of weeks after we went.
The Stein is a good low elevation trip for early season dry interior hiking. Lots of good spring flowers and birds. Ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine are the dominant species but there are a few wonderful patches of microclimate western red-cedar in shadier sites such as Teaspoon Creek.
The trailhead is at 220 metres and the high point of our hike about 400. Several campsites are easily accessible in a half day hike from the trailhead. Bengul and Murat drove up and hiked the eight kilometres in to the Teepee campsite on Friday. Murat sent me a post using his SPOT personal locator beacon to show me that they’d arrived – I got an email which brought up a Google Maps link showing them smack dab where we planned on camping. The other six of us drove up from Vancouver and hiked in on Saturday morning. We found our way to the campsite and met up with the early birds.
Yes, a May long weekend is busy there. The main area of the campsite near the trail and the river were occupied, but we found more space a bit further back beyond a small rise, and away from the scout group. We didn’t have any benches or tables there but we made good use of the local Flintstone Furniture (aka rocks). And it was close to the biffy.
On Sunday we hiked five kilometres further up the valley to the Suspension Bridge camp (the bridge was built in 2001 to replace a long-running cable car – not all trail guides have managed to take note of that yet) where the trail crosses from the south side to the north side of the river. We had lunch by the river at the base of the cable car and contemplated a rather large rock in the middle of the river that appeared to be right in the path of the cable car and must have made more than one passenger uneasy in its day.
Below the crossing, the river runs high and fast, but the middle canyon above the crossing is more placid. Most of us continued about another kilometre to the Riverside campsite before returning, but Daphne kept going another three kilometres or so to the Snake Bluffs. Unfortunately she was the only person without a camera so she’ll have to remember it for herself and the rest of us will have to go back and try it again someday.
It was dry and sunny there for most of the weekend, unlike the wet weather back home in Vancouver. But we got to experience a strange darkness around 4pm on Sunday when a partial solar eclipse came over.