September 2013 with Bettina, Bill N, Nellie, Daphne, Carole N, Ron.
Cerise Creek is the next valley over from Joffre Lakes but much less travelled, being used more by climbers and backcountry skiers than ordinary hikers like us. The trail used to be accessed by a road that begins just east of the Joffre Lakes trailhead, but in recent years a newer and more direct access route has been established. Unfortunately, it’s not until you’re about 100 metres along the trail that you actually find a sign that tells you you’re on the Cerise Creek trail. And we met at least one couple who had followed out of date directions and had a not very pleasant hike.
Calling this hike Cerise Creek is really a bit of a misnomer; the access is along Cerise Creek, but it’s when the trail begins to climb above the creek that you get into the good stuff. And away from the wasps – the summer of 2013 was a bad one for wasps (well maybe a good one for the wasps but not for everyone else) and there were at least three nests along the trail. Two of them at least were well flagged.
The first fairly short part of the trail is through mature forest to a junction with the old logging road, which you then follow for a bit through old clearcuts until it ends and you’re back in the woods again. Our destination was the Keith Flavelle Hut, which is only a four kilometre hike – except that most of the 420 metre elevation gain occurs in the last kilometre.
This sign appears to have been put up by the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz.
At this junction, the trail to the left continues down low for a while to the creek leading to the Anniversary Glacier, the trail to the right starts to climb seriously to the hut, Daphne appears to be trying to encourage the camera to move a little faster, and Carole looks like she’s not too sure about the whole thing.
The hut is named for Keith Flavelle, a local climber (and heir of the Purdy’s Chocolates family) who died in a 1986 climbing accident on Mount Logan. It’s very pleasant and wasn’t busy even on a Labour Day weekend, but most of us chose to camp in the meadows just in front alongside a couple of small tarns. The hut is well equipped inside and out, with a designated “pee tree” for some of us, a conventional outhouse for others (and other uses), and a slop pit that you could probably catch an elephant in.
The view is good from the hut but even better from the meadow. The photo below of the Anniversary Glacier was taken through the door of my tent at 7am.
Bettina managed to pick a tent site on the edge of the tarn, in a setting that could be used for a tent ad in Backpacker magazine. Sorry I didn’t get a magazine-worthy photo of it.
As I mentioned, this area is mainly used by climbers and once you’re at the hut there aren’t many options for hikers. But we followed a trail up the open ridge directly south of the hut and campsite and up the slopes below Mount Matier.
We got to a high platform which is known as Motel 6 by the climbers who camp there and which is pretty well the last flat and horizontal surface on the mountain. We scrambled a bit further up to the top of a knob but that was about as far as one could go without having to use hands. But we had a wonderful closeup view of the glacier and some climbers working their way up it, and down below the glacier to the outwash and the sharp pincers of the lateral moraines which contained the outwash.
After coming back down to the tents, most of us headed down on the north side to the edge of the moraine. The moraine is very steep and narrow, not to mention rocky, gravelly and slippery, but we managed to carefully scramble up it where we found Ron sitting at the crest. Bettina and I had driven by to pick him up the day before, but once he had his pack all loaded he’d decided that he wasn’t up to carrying all that weight and that he’d stay home. But he managed to repack a little lighter and came up by himself the next day.
A couple of people went down the other side of the moraine and wandered around the outwash and the tarn, but some of us just hung around and looked down at the people on the outwash and up at the nacreous clouds (thanks Bettina for the cloud i.d.).
The hike out on Monday was mostly uneventful but I wish I’d seen the king gentians that apparently were growing very near the trailhead. I suppose I’ll have to go back and look for them some other time.