The Jack Augerpoint Traverse – I’ve been thinking about it – dreaming about it – for years. And so, as you can imagine, I had pretty high expectations.
The trek exceeded those expectations by miles and miles.
The trek was the toughest I have done: a combination of steep elevation gain and descent, heavy packs, route finding and heat.
Pat and I (and I could not have asked for a finer hiking companion) started off at the Buttle Lake Trailhead (giving us an additional 1,000 metres elevation gain for the trip but we both preferred up steep and down not as steep). Surprise number one: blowdown and lots of it.
And so we spent the first hour or so ducking under or clambering over monster trees. That done, we went up and up (and before I forget, a huge shout-out to Grace, Pat’s wife – for offering to drop us off and pick us up at trailheads) and some of the up was on some slippery scree that was steep. Did I mention steep?
After 1200 metres we hit the top of that particular plateau with to-die-for views over Buttle Lake and the surrounding mountains. And what a plateau! Tarns everywhere. We set up our tents and because it was only 4 p.m. we explored the ridges surrounding us. Then dinner and watching the sunset.
The next morning we were on our way at 8 a.m. This was going to be a big day all the way to Ruth Masters Lake. I do want to mention, however, that Pat said – oh, today we have a 200 metre elevation difference.
Well, I thought – piece of cake. Only 200 metres. It wasn’t until we had descended about 500 or so metres into a valley and were heading up again that I questioned him. Well, he explained – that’s the elevation difference. It’s not the amount we’ll be going up.
Yeah – another 1200 metre day – give or take. Already my spine was bruised from the weight of the pack. But – oh well. How could I possibly complain when we had the best weather I’ve ever seen with clear skies that allowed us 360-views constantly. Truly amazing. Not one cloud in the sky – not even a puffy white one.
The scenery was rugged and so was the trail. We mostly navigated well but did resort to Pat’s GPS now and then where things got tricky.
The track to Ruth Masters proved interesting with steep slopes to navigate and one almost knife-edge ridge. We had lunch that day on top of a numbered peak – again – views (well, that’s why there are photos here – because the views beggar description). And finally, the famous Ruth Masters Lake. Wow! Even more beautiful than I had imagined.
Getting down to it was a whole other adventure. Pat only fell once ! Yay! The fact that I did not is a miracle.
And then, there we were – camped on the shores of the prettiest lake I’ve ever seen. And that’s where we met Meleesa and her son, Cale and dog, Molly – also hiking through. Cale only 10 years old with a 30-pound pack and enjoying every minute of it. And there they were, doing the whole thing without a GPS. Not only gutsy but two of the most charming people I have ever met. Molly was also very cool.
We told them we were planning our third night at the tarns above Circlet Lake – they thought that was a fine idea and so we were pretty sure we would meet again.
Again, Pat and I had plenty of time after setting up to explore the ridges around the lake – and again, a beautiful night for sleeping.
The next morning, a family of Ptarmigans! And then we were off on our biggest day: nine hours of mostly up as well as some very steep down to get to the ridge and bumps leading up to the top of Albert Edward. Huge elevation gain and tons of heat.
Did I mention mosquitoes?
Lots and lots of them.
Halfway up we stopped for water and electrolytes – it was that kind of day. And we had the option of following the track around the side of Albert Edward or going over the top. Through a boulder field. Pat left it up to me to make the choice.
I looked at the damn thing. “Let’s do the fucking mountain!” I said.
And we did. And it took considerable focus.
And then there we were on top and it was beautiful. We had our late lunch and finally started down and down and down. And there were Meleesa an Cale jumping in one of the tarns, cooling down in the water. Molly too of course.
No exploring that evening. We were kind of done.
The next morning I shared the rest of my food with Meleesa and Cale who had run low enough that they’d given their breakfast to Molly. I didn’t have much – cheese and chocolate – but hey – it was food, right?
And then we hiked the long slog back out to Mount Washington.
I’m going to give my poor aching back a bit of a break now.