Saturday 13 April 2024

The First Trip To The Ozalenka Alpine

        Today, the Ozalenka Alpine is a highly regarded and popular hiking destination in the Robson Valley, but back in 1989, it was unknown.  I was along on that first group hike up to the Ozalenka and below is how the hike went for me.  I probably have some photos from that first hike hiding away somewhere, but the photos you see here are from later treks to the Ozalenka.

On Sunday, September 3rd there was a group hike planned up into the newly named Ozalenka Alpine.  Ozalenka supposedly meant “grizzly bear” in some indigenous language.  Very few local people had ever been up into the Ozalenka.  The area had been “discovered” by Glen Stanley, a local hiking and climbing enthusiast, and his descriptions of the place, peaked the curiosity of some of us other local hikers.  Glen volunteered to lead an expedition for us interested trekkers, up to the Ozalenka, and set the date for the hike.

         I was very eager to see the Ozalenka and so got up at 6:00 the morning of the hike, because I had planned to bike to the gathering point, so my wife could have use of the car during the day, but then I discovered that my neighbor Kjell was also going on the hike, so I was able to wait around at his house until 7:30 and go along with him. 

    There were twelve of us that met up at the trail head to do the hike.  Lanky, mountain goat, Glen led us into the bush along one of the tributaries of the Dore River.  Almost immediately after starting off we encountered, and had to ford a wide creek.  Everyone else had brought some runners along to wear fording the creek, but I was unaware of crossing a major creek, and was wearing my good leather hikers, so I took off my boots, hung them around my neck, and crossed the creek bare-footed.  The water was shockingly cold, almost stinging my bare feet.  

    It took hours to make the slow, unrelenting, climb up to the alpine following a steep creek.  We had to cross the creek multiple times, balancing on logs.  Once we got above the tree line, an extensive alpine area opened up to us.  It cradled three small lakes.   After some initial explorations roaming through the lush rolling flowered alpine, some of us seeking a new vista, climbed to the top of a very long narrow ridge that overlooked the next valley. Spectacular!   

    We saw a few caribou and heard wolves.  It was a wonderful and enchanting experience.

    My feet began to hurt even before starting back down the trail, and as I descended, the pain got intensified.  I always found that going downhill was more painful than climbing, because my long toes always jammed up against the toe of the boot.

    It was already dark by the time I got back down to that first big creek, and I discovered that while we had gone, the creek’s flow and it’s depth had increased a lot, due to all of the alpine snow melt that had occurred during the day.  I was totally exhausted, and upon entering the creek’s frigid water and crossing, I slipped on one of the underwater rocks, falling, and drenching myself.

        Once I had struggled to the bank of the creek, I just lay there for a while exhausted, until I could work up enough energy to get back on my feet and walk to the trucks.  I didn’t get home until 9:00.


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