Eagle Mountain Pass – July 2019

Shannon and I attempted this hike in the past, just over two years ago actually. However it was early October with a foot of snow on the ground at the summit and the fog was so thick that we couldn’t even tell that we were standing on the edge of a cliff.  So in my mind it was an unsuccessful hike as we were heading there for the scenery. This time we were hoping for unlimited 365 degree views.  The weather in Vernon was perfect so we figured it was a good day to go.  As we drove east the clouds started rolling in but we were still hopeful.  Back in 2009, I was spending a good amount of time drifting around Australia and bumped into a fellow named John Nayler.  At the time John was living on a catamaran sailing around the Whitsunday Islands.  John owning his own ECentral digital marketing business has a tremendous amount of flexibility in his work and just happened to be in town and decided to join us.  John is an avid hiker in all parts of the world and was super keen on this new adventure tied in with a 10 year reunion.

Blast from the past: Whithaven Beach, 2009

After the 100+kms of driving and 14km of forestry roads we were now ready to tie our boot laces, load up the girls in our “new to us” MEC child carrier and hit the trails.

Hi John
Lidija keen on exploring.

We started off hiking, and Shannon was missing her bug spray; the mosquitos were bad. The weather was also starting to turn and it was getting chilly. The adults were warm because we were hiking uphill at a pretty good pace. Bexley was cool on Shannon’s front but Lidija was in the backpack freezing. We made a pit stop and put on her pants and MEC bundle up jacket. Good thing Shannon threw this in as it was +30 when we left home but figured it could be a bit breezy at the top.

We stopped several times to soak in the amazing wildflowers in full bloom. so so beautiful with a never ending array of colors and the distant peaks were nothing to dismiss either.

Looking east

Up and up we went, stopping along the way to say a quick hello to the descending adventurers. The hike is 3.5km long with a 890m elevation gain taking you to a maximum height of 2360m at the summit. You start in the trees and climb up into the alpine and finish with a rocky face at the foot of a freshly restored fire lookout. The trail is very well marked with a couple of creek crossings and only one major fork in the path that is signed in your desired direction. We finally made it to the summit shelter just before it started to spit and sleet on us.

Hoary Marmot
Shannon & Bexley in the Alpine
Restored 1922 Fire Lookout

We ducked into the lookout for a bit of lunch and let the girls walk around and stretch their legs. The lookout itself, as small as it is, comes stocked with 2 pairs of bunk beds with mattresses and pillows, a table and a wood burning stove. The best feature lies out back with a staircase that takes you to unobstructed roof top views of the entire area. With rocky terrain, snow capped mountains, tarns, forests and steep cliff drops on nearly all sides you just can’t say no to this place. T-Rex even decided to make an appearance on the roof hut as well, silly Dino.

We did have a few moments when the sun peaked through the clouds but we could always see the threat of rain falling somewhere off in the horizon. The views are amazing! One of the quickest ways to get into the alpine from the Okanagan Valley and the glacial peaks and lakes will not leave you disappointed. For sure worth the elevation gain to get here. We had happy girls, met some other fellow hikers, shared stories and remembered the good old days with John. It took us 2.5 hours to climb to the top with stops here and there for the odd snack and chat, 1.5 hours for the return. Shannon and I even convinced John to join us for a BBQ dinner back at our place before making his long trip back home the following day. Can’t wait for you to return again John for more adventures!

Here is a little drone footage as well from one of the guys we met on the hike up.

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