Athelney Pass Coast Range British Columbia
This article was originally posted back in August of 2008. Since my main summer photography trip for 2014 will be an extended visit to several very remote and seldom visited areas in British Columbia, I felt it appropriate to bring this one back to light. To date, this trip to the Athelney Pass Coast Range British Columbia was one of my favorite and most exciting in recent years. Despite an abundance of National Parks and Wilderness Areas in the Pacific Northwest, it is getting harder every year to find a place to visit and photograph that is relatively unknown and has a truly remote wilderness feel to it. The Athelney Pass/Salal Creek area fits the bill in all aspects, even though it has no wilderness park or protected area designation.
Begin original 2008 post:
Mount Ethelweard and Icemaker Mountain #18242 Purchase
For the last six days, I’ve been working on editing all the new images from my recent trip to Athelney Pass in British Columbia’s Coast Range. This trip was one of the best and most productive amongst a string of excellent photo trips in 2008. So it’s worth adding a few words and pics about it. I was vaguely aware of this area until early last month while researching nearby Coast Mountain routes and trails on the web. It only took seeing a couple of photos on Google to convince me to make a trip there.
Salal Creek Coast Mountains British Columbia #17884
Researching Athelney Pass in a couple of guidebooks revealed that it wasn’t too far away. Just a 4-5 hour drive north of Bellingham. I felt four-six days would provide ample time for exploration and photography. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) there is no formal trail leading into this rugged wilderness. Meaning that the hike to Athelney Pass is only a modest 8-10 or so miles in length and 2200 feet elevation gain. However, it felt like it was about twice that much.
Athelney Pass Mountains British Columbia #19083 Purchase
Derelict mining cabin and equipment at Athelney Pass #17979 Purchase
There are several sections requiring route-finding in the forest. Along with a couple of torturous sections of bashing through thick nearly impenetrable slide alder. The rest of the route is “easy” hiking in open country along the river bank and steep loose glacial moraines. If your definition of easy is hiking for miles on unstable ankle-breaking rocks the size of baseballs and bowling balls! All of this plus a lengthy logging road access meant that I had the whole area mostly to myself. I only saw one other person in six days and that was from a distance. The only other downside to this trip was encountering discarded items from past mining exploration. There is a derelict cabin rusting equipment, plus discarded barrels of fuel higher up the ridge. (By 2014 all this may have been cleaned up since my 2008 visit)
Athelney Pass British Columbia #18127 Purchase
As an added bit of excitement, I came across a very large Grizzly Bear on the road as I was driving out after the hike. I’ll never doubt the speed at which these animals can run. I was driving a gravel road when it burst out of the brush in front of my vehicle. It took off down the road at an accelerating speed before disappearing into the brush again.
So if you are looking for a new place to go hiking away from the crowds with a true feeling of raw wilderness, and don’t mind putting in the extra effort this area might be for you.
Icemaker Mountain British Columbia #18270 Purchase
Mount Ethelweard British Columbia #18545 Purchase
Salal Divide British Columbia #18545 Purchase