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Day 3: Camp 2 (Tchaikazan Valley Camp) to Camp 3 (Spectrum Pass Camp)

We awoke early to another clear, though very cold morning - these high elevations don't make for much warmth at any time of the year. I was out of the tent by 6:00, followed shortly after by Andre. We made quick work of packing our gear and enjoyed a leisurly breakfast as the sun began to rise over the tall mountains while the others slowly began to get up.

On the Tchaikazan River Floodplain. L-R: Thorsten, Alf, Andre, Trudel, Cody, John, Heidi
At 8:20 the crew slung on their weighty packs and began the second days journey.

As morning progressed and we moved up the valley, the skies became more and more overcast. We travelled over fields of grass, through open forest and after a few hours found ourselves on the riverbed once again.

A sandy beach next to a narrow bend in the fast moving river made a nice spot for a rest, snack, stretch and to have a look at the maps.

Mid-morning break along the river. Andre, Heidi, Alf and John stand by the river surveying the map and mountains, Thorsten looks over his shoulder to have a look, while Cody and Reimar stretch out cramped muscles.
A Grizzly Encounter!!

Around 10:00 am the trail led us for a distance right along the riverbed. The group was somewhat spread out, with Andre in the lead, followed by myself, then one by one the rest of the crew. All of a sudden, Andre stopped dead in his tracks facing the shallow, braided river. I almost bumped into him, the others came to a stand-still behind us, stopping still right away at the sight of a giant Grizzly bear on a gravel bar perhaps only 20 yards away. Hunched before her was a small cub - the size of a teen-age black bear!! All sense of time vanished as she seized us up, looking from one of us to the next. Ample time to get a photo with the camera handy on my left side, all I could think about was the bear spray canister handy on my right. Grizzly mom lifted her enormous front paw, leaned forwards toward us, then turned and bolted into the forest on the opposite riverbank, cub in tow.

Flowers and meadows below the overcast skies
The excitement over, we continued on. About an hour later I heard voices, and sure enough, as we stepped from the forest into a clearing we came upon two large tents and bright red outfitters hut. Three fellows were based there, and we spent an hour socializing, taking photos and making use of the "facility" behind the cabin!
The outfitters cabin at the base of Spectrum Pass
From the cabin the trail climbs up into Spectrum Pass. It's a pretty gentle, easy climb that took us less than two hours. The views become increasingly more impressive, with the wide Tchzikazan Valley spreading out below and a wall of Chilcotin Mountains looming above.
Rising above the Tchaikazan Valley into Spectrum Pass
The Tchzikazan River Valley from Spectrum Pass
At about 7,500 feet we crested around a corner and faced the actual pass. Lying before us was a vast, barren landscape, hills rising gently on our right, a tall mountain rising at left and centered between a sharp, wedge-shaped peak watched our approach (below).
Spectrum Pass
Camp 2 - Spectrum Pass Camp

Climbing gradually along the open meadows of the pass, marmots whistling our presence all around, we came upon a wide, flat and most importantly - wind-sheltered - spot that suited us perfectly as a camp. We planned to stay here two nights and day-hike the next day.

Fortunately we had a great water source, an icy creek flowed through a gorge below our plateau. Nothing like a fresh bath in glacial water at over 7,500 feet!!

Can you spot Thorsten curled up for a snooze??
Our tiny tents stand below the castle-like formation of Spectrum Peak
Afternoon Hiking

At 5:00, Heidi and I set out for a hike to the top of the hill above our camp, anxious to see the views of the surrounding landscape. The slope, though rocky, was very soft, making the going a little more difficult. But what a luxury to have no weight on our backs - only a camera lay tucked in my pocket. Fourty-five minutes later we reached the top and were indeed rewarded with astonishing views of the rugged landscape.

Meanwhile, Andre finished washing at the creek and coming back to camp to find Heidi and me gone, set out for a jaunt up to the towers of Spectrum Peak. He was eventually joined by Cody, and they, like Heidi and I, marvelled at the surrounding scapes.

This view shows the "other" side of Spectrum Pass by which we would descend to the Yohetta Valley in two days. Note the wedge-shaped peak at top left - on Day 4 we found ourselves sitting on top of it!
Gathering at camp once again, we settled in for an icy cold evening. The temperature plummeted below freezing after sunset, and having no wood for a fire we were left to sip hot tea bundled in every ounce of clothing we'd carried.
Day 4: Day Hike in Spectrum Pass

An inch-thick layer of frost on the tents and frozen water bottles greeted me as I rose at 6:00 am. Fourty-five minutes later the sun crested over the far eastern ridge, coaxing everyone out of their tents and into the fresh alpine air. The sun soon melted the frost and our water and we began making preparations for a day-hike.

Sunrise in Spectrum Pass
John had the desire to climb the wedge-shaped peak looming at the head of the pass, and most of the rest of us decided it would make a great potential destination.

The "older" crew departed about 9:30, just as a cold mist rolled in. At 10:00, Andre and I followed, eventually managing to catch up with the others near the top of the main ridge below the final climb to the peak. Andre and I hiked past a small tarn at the base of a steep snowfield up which crossed a set of very large tracks. We circled around the tiny pond and found that sure enough, they were Grizzly Bear tracks.

Check out the size of these tracks next to Andre's size-12 feet!!
We hiked the rocky Mars-like terrain to a wide saddle below the peak. At over 8,500 feet we were able to slightly notice our lungs having to work a little harder than back home at sea level. Food and rest now foremost on our minds, we settled on the rough ground in a spot out of the way of the cold wind for some lunch.

After a good rest, we made our way to the base of the most gently sloping part of the peak, almost stumbling over a group of about eight or so perfectly camouflaged ptarmigan (clucking like chickens). We made the final ascent, clambering over large, ancient boulders and about 3/4 of the way up came to a little "window" in the slope affording me my first glimpse of the massive and uniquely coloured Chilco Lake - a lake I'd ogled at in photos for over a decade.

A final scramble up the steep incline of rock and the peak was ours - at 9,000 feet!

The Views from the Top
Chilco Lake lies far below, the rugged Coast Mtn's at left and the gentler Chilcotin Mtn's at right. Dorothy Lake lies below the angled peak of Mt. Goddard in the Yohetta Valley at right. The next evening we would be camped on its distant shores.
John took this group photo overlooking Chilco Lake. L-R: Thorsten, Heidi, Trudel, Andre, Alf, Reimar.
Looking down at Spectrum Pass and the Tchaikazan Valley. Our camp is marked by the triangle. The "Low Peak" is the peak Heidi and I climbed the previous day, Spectrum Peak where Andre and Cody hiked to.
After a good two hours on the tiny peak, the time came for us to leave the grand views and return to camp. It had taken us about three hours from camp to peak, and we wanted to arrive back well before sunset to allow some time for dinner preparations before the great freeze set in.
A camouflaged marmot outside his hole. The photo doesn't show it, but he was huge - a good 2 1/2 feet long.