Iron Braden

A guide up Mount Braden in the Sooke Foothills and some ranting.

Feb. 21, 2011 was the first day in 2011 that I did not exercise. Here is the reason why:

Yes, after trying out my new mountaineering boots, it would appear that I bought them a size and a half too small! Wowza. So MEC took them back and gave me the right size!!! Isn’t that great!? I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. They had even been worn outside, on a hike!!! So, thanks MEC.. :)

Anyways – so, I decided to take my first rest day of 2011 (Monday, Feb. 21st). Actually, I’ve taken my first rest week of 2011. I couldn’t really do much with big blisters on my feet (read: no running or training for the 10K!! ack!). I even went into work and wore sandals at my desk and got all kinds of looks from my co-workers. I tried climbing at the climbing gym on Tues. with my shoes pulled down and not touching my heels. This worked for the most part but didn’t really allow any good climbing.

At any rate, I was kinda stupid and pushed my blisters to the limit. Last weekend, I summited Braden twice – once with Sasha (this would be when the blisters happened) and once with Silas (this would be when the blisters became serious). Then, just this past weekend (even though I wasn’t really fully healed), I did Mount Quimper with Silas and then went back to Mount Braden with Josh. So, the weekend before that, I hiked Braden twice in one day!

Annnnywayzzzz…. I actually wanted to make this post a trip report for Mount Braden, not a personal blog. Just thought I would wrap it all up in a personal note. I hope this all makes sense…

So here we go: A Trip Report from Mount Braden, one of best little mountains for alpine training this side of Sooke.

UPDATE!!! The GPS tracklog is now here!

First off, I want to thank Mr. Sasha Kubicek for the idea of even hiking this hill as an alpine trainer. The route takes you along a long approach on a fire road and then cuts left into the woods and up the mountain proper. You finish the last third of the route in an alpine-like setting: no trees, steep ground, and rocks. This last weekend it snowed in Victoria and Sooke and Braden was covered in the frozen stuff. It looked very alpine-like up there (see pics below). CooL!

The route starts off here. Use Google or whatever newfangled tecno-gadget you like to get there. Park at the mailboxes and put your boots on. Got ’em on? Good! Now, for probably the most tricky part of the entire route up the hill: AVIOD THE CRAZY DOGS! The guy that lives (?) / works (?) just to the South on the highway has two very unfriendly dogs (*Feb. 2011). The best way to avoid them is to cross the highway and walk South the 200 meters or so and then re-cross the highway and enter the trail system here. This can be sketchy. Don’t get run over or eaten by a dog. You can stay on the same side of the highway as the dogs but you might die. Just say’n. The trail is plainly visible in the Google Maps photo (*Feb. 2011). Enter the woods.

Another trail system links up with the one you’ll be on, but it’s just a merging fork, presumably coming from Dog Guy’s property. You are now on Crown land. Head up over a little rise in the trail and back down the other side and you’ll come after about 5 mins. of walking to a river that has recently had a log bridge installed with a hand line. Sasha was telling me that they used to just throw rocks in the river in order to cross it. I wish I could remember the name of this river, but I can’t…

The log bridge. Not too bad actually..

Right after the log bridge a short little path leads up a rise to the old fire road that you will be using for the approach to the mountain. You can’t miss it. Follow the trail after the bridge for aprox. 50 meters, it cuts up a bank, turn right and follow the old road. Remember this spot on the way down (if you’re coming down the same way) as I have walked past it and close to Dog Guy’s property twice now! Easy to miss when you are having so much fun.

You’ll now be on the road that you will stay on for over 30 mins. (depending on how fast you walk). The road basically just follows the river you crossed earlier. A few roads connect with this one. Don’t leave it, I think the others may lead to nearby Sugarloaf Mountain.

After walking for over 30 mins., keep your eye out for a small (and not obvious) flagged trail cutting up into the woods to your left. I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of this junction. Anyways as of Feb. 2011, there’s a large orange flag hanging from a tree at the junction, another flag just a ways up in the woods and another one tied to a log on the actual route just a few meters in. Heck, try reading this site if you really want but trust me folks – just walk about 30-40 mins. and look for the flagged route. It’s not too hard.

Once your on the flagged route, it is pretty easy to find your way. The route has been steped on quite a bit and is now well worn into a trail for about 80% of the way. Hike for about 10-15 mins. and reach your first viewpoint/rest stop.

Sash enjoying the view at the first stop.

View from the first rest stop.

Yes, this is actually ice! We found it in the woods on the way up! Crrrazzzy!

Keep following the flags and eventually (after less than 30 mins.) they will give way to rock cairns. This is where the route starts to feel quite alpine-like as it moves you out onto low angle rock and moss. The views only get better from here!

Keep connecting the dots between rock cairns and flaging, you’re almost there! The route has a fair bit of openess to it then drops briefly back into a wooded section and then it’s open rock/moss ridge all the way to the top! The views are great!

Sasha on top.

Summit ridge. Snow in Feb.

I could see Oak Bay in the direction Sasha’s looking here.

Mount Baker. (photo: Sasha)

Head back down the same way you came or search the internet for another route down. I only really know this one.

I went back the same day (and caught the sunset) with Silas and returned the next weekend with Josh. I’m posting some pics from those outings too.

Silas on top of Braden. Iron Braden!

The final ridge up to the top. Funski!

Yours truly on top. Saturday Feb. 20th, 2011.

Think about life… Killer sunset.

There was this crazy echo on top. You can’t hear it in the video, but it’s there. Go see for yourself!

And here are some photos taken in similar spots along the route just 7 days later! Life on the Wet Coast… The weather can change!

Two thirds of the way up in the snow and more gently falling. So surreal!

Up on top last weekend. Much cooler this time around!

A very different view (read: not a lot to see but fog!) from the last time I stood in this spot.

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