Cream Lake – Strathcona Provincial Park

Distance: 10km (one way)
Elevation Gain: 900m
Time: 5-7 hours (one way)
Date: August, 2016
Specific Gear:  Bug Spray, Crampons/ Ice Axe

Trailhead Directions
Take HWY 28 from Campbell River towards Gold River.  When you reach Buttle lake do not cross the bridge and instead follow the road going south along the East side of the lake for 40km.  After you cross the Thelwood Creek bridge at the far end of the lake, turn left onto Jim Mitchell Lake Road.  Follow this dirt road for 7km to the trailhead.  The road is relatively well maintained, however the gravel is quite large, four wheel drive is recommended.

Trip Report
The first portion of this trail consist of consistent switch backs through forest leading up to Bedwell Lake, it is very well maintained and easy to follow. The trail to the Bedwell Lake Campground is 6km with 500m of elevation gain.
Bedwell Lake is a beautiful subalpine like with numerous tent platforms privately positioned amongst the trees.  I imagine arriving early to this location would secure a good spot.  You can choose to set up camp here and carry on with a lighter load or you can continue on to Cream Lake to choose a backcountry spot at the lake. If your destination is Cream Lake I recommend keeping the heavy pack on your back and carrying on to Cream Lake.  It’s completely worth the effort.
On this particular trip I arrived at Bedwell Lake quite late and it was becoming dark, I had no choice but to setup camp here. Arriving so late in the day, I managed only to find a clear spot along a path for the night. Outside of the provided tent platforms it was a bit difficult to find a decent tent spot.

From Bedwell Lake to Cream Lake the trail is still very obvious, though it is more of a track than a well maintained trail.  From Bedwell Lake to Cream lake there is another 400m of elevation gain and 4km of hiking. It can be completed in 2-3 hours even with a heavy backpack.
I was lucky enough to arrive at Cream Lake on a hot sunny August day. There was only one other campsite when I arrived. I setup camp right by the lake and took pleasure and having a very cold dip before having lunch.

2016-08-01-Cream Lake-5

The lake sits at the base of Mt. Septimus, and at this time of year the only remaining snow was the Septimus Glacier on the North face.  On this trip a pair of crampons came in handy to be able to easily scramble up to the shoulder of Mount Septimus in the late afternoon. I can estimate it must have taken only 30-40 minutes to scramble up to the shoulder of the mountain.
The views from the top were absolutely stunning.  On a clear day there are views of Nine Peaks, Big Interior and Love Lake.

2016-08-01-Cream Lake

On this trip I had one misfortune, and this was Mosquitoes. I’ve been living on this island for nearly a decade and this is the first time I have encountered a problem.  This mosquitoes were just as dense in the trees as they were at the highest point in the Alpine. The only way I could really fend them off was to put on all my gortex, including pulling up the hood.  I could hear them bouncing off my jacket. I also lost count at over 3oo hundred bites when I got home.    If it’s the summer time, throw a bottle of repellent in your pack.

 

2016-08-01-Cream Lake-7

View of Cream Lake from Septimus.strath_bedwell_fee_area

Ref: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/strath/strath_bedwell_fee_area.pdf?v=1490585169992

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