East Tricouni Meadows
– August 2015 with Sabina, Inge, Xinxin, Ian C, Katy, Jeremy G, Bill S, Sandy & Frank D.
This was kind of a makeup hike; I planned to lead it last year but had to cancel out at the last-minute due to an emergency. And since my original plan was to be in Jasper and start hiking the Skyline this day, and had to cancel it, this hike was also somewhat of a consolation prize. But it was worth it.
The west side of Tricouni, an open basin with several lakes, is better known but has a reputation for being wet and muddy (the Clubtread trail description recommends the east side because “it’s not a mud bath”). The east side isn’t as expansive but has a good trail with one splendid lake and is actually easier to get to from Highway 99. Chance Creek Forest Service Road takes you 6.7 km, followed by two further steeper and rockier kilometres to where we parked at a road that really does need four-wheel drive. We got up that part easily in Ian’s SUV; Jeremy’s Impreza had a bit rougher time of it, but having the weight of five hikers in the car probably didn’t help. A couple of the junctions from there are a bit misleading – the tendency is to want to take the newer roads but that isn’t always the case. Anyway, once we figured out what the correct road is, we hiked three kilometres up this road until it petered out and became overgrown and blocked with a couple of large logs. We saw no sign of a cairn that was supposed to be marking the trailhead but the trail was obvious, and from there it was a moderately easy two kilometre hike to Tricouni Lake with only a short crossing of the edge of a boulder field to slow anyone down.
And lots of blueberries – there were none anywhere on the road but as soon as we hit the trail they were abundant.
Tricouni Lake is in a rocky amphitheatre on the southeast side of Tricouni Peak. You can travel above or around the lake but need good scrambling skills; we were content to hang around the lake and enjoy the views. There are some very good subalpine meadows along the trail leading to the lake, though this hot summer they were much drier than usual.
Last year’s hike was in September and I was told that it would be better to do it a month earlier for the flowers; this year even earlier would have been better. This year the alpine wildflower show was “blink and you miss it”; here there was a fair bit of moisture-loving pink monkeyflower and fringed grass-of-Parnassus, at least where there were wet areas. And one really nice Tolmie’s saxifrage.
There was lots of fireweed too. On the road up, someone had set up this collection of beehives.
Two American Dippers were in the creek flowing out of the lake; other birds of note were several Black Swifts flying high over the road, a couple of Band-tailed Pigeons we flushed on the hike back down, and a rufous morph Ruffed Grouse on the lower road on the drive back.
Heavy smoke from forest fires in the Squamish and Pemberton areas obscured the views for most of the morning, but our hike took us above it, and around lunchtime a breeze came through and cleared most of it away. We had good views across the valley toward Black Tusk, the Barrier and the Garibaldi Lake area (the lake itself beyond view in a depression). Among the ten of us and five or six other people we ran into, we imagined the hordes of long weekend hikers who would have been in the Garibaldi Lake area and gave thanks that we weren’t among them.