Friday evening we were tossing around thought of doing a day hike the following day. We were trying to find something sub-alpine or even alpine to do, bonus if there was a lake around too. Our skies in town were quite smokey from the wildfires burning around so we were looking to get away from it. Not to mention that day time highs were in the upper 30’s so into higher and cooler elevations and somewhere we hadn’t been before was a priority.
A friend of ours had recommended so we decided to check it out. We were a bit hesitant as there is no lake, elevation gain is 890 metres and we would have 35+ pounds on our backs with the girls tagging along. We agreed the views would be worth it so after the girls went to bed we got organized and packed up to leave in the early morning.
Alarms rang at 6 o’clock and we scrambled to get out of the house by 7. Come 7:30 am the tires were turning. The drive took us north east along the shores of Mara Lake and past Sicamous. Onward through Malakwa, further than the last spike at Craigellachie, then Some hot pools at Crazy Creek. 21 kms west of Revelstoke hosts the turn off onto the gravel and up Wap Lake Forest Service Road (FSR). By 10:00 we reached the trail head after 16.6 kms of unsigned driving. With a short snack along with sunscreen and bug spray we were then on our way around 10:30.
The first part of the hike is through a clear cut with some astonishing valley views if you stop to look back. After about 10 mins of steep up you enter the old forest before you keep going up followed but more up and then some up again. The trail was fairly well used and in good shape, however there was a couple down trees and one section that involved a rope to assist in the rock scramble to push further. After about an hour or so we ended up coming to a meadow and the trail levelled out for around 15 minutes.
This slight change of trail was a perfect chance for the girls to run loose and give us a break with the weight for a bit. We were now teetering on the edge of the tree line so the views were starting to surface. As we passed through the clearing we found a flat rock that had us looking back over the Mable Lake valley to where we could enjoy lunch with some amazing views.
At this point we were about 2 hours in and 500 metres of elevation gain; just a little over half way. We were all refueled and feeling great to push on. The trail now looses a bit of distinction. There is a few rock carins that show some indication but basically you just climb up. We had a couple rocks section, some snow patches and an dazzling display of colourful wildflowers through the low growing shrubs. Once you cross into the alpine the vegetation is highly sensitive. With the unmarked paths we did our best not to destroy any of mothers natures rarely seen beauty.
As we meandered to the summit we noticed that there was no fire lookout as we had read in others posts, but as you would expect we were only at the false summit. Looking further in the distance we could finally see the green roof ahead of us. Unfortunately you have to dip down into a valley before you make the final climb to the hut. The building is a vary basic square shelter with 360 degree windows looking out over all the mountains in the area. North you can see Three Valley Gap Lake, east is Mount Begbie and its surrounding peaks. South East is the magnificent Blanket Glacier and south west is Mable Lake. We even spotted a couple forest fires that have been burning near Mable Lake and Malakwa.
After an hour or so on the top in 21 degree temperatures, we have enjoyed our second lunch and signed the log book. Getting a bit further into the afternoon we decided that we should work our way down. This direction made for much faster travel so our pace was much more efficient. We took a slight detour by choice to the north to eliminate a steeper section over a bolder field. Once passing back through the meadow we new that our views were now limited. Down we go, over some trees and descent the rocky section with the rope. Back to the clear cut where out truck appears back into view. After a quick change of clothes and rehydration we were on the move. The parking lot temperature read 31 degrees and was rising as we worked our way down the FSR. Eventually as we popped out at the tarmac where we could see that across the lake was a plumb of smoke in the hillside that was nearly unnoticeable. We decided to dial *5555 and call in the wildfire. We knew that it would not be a big concern as there was some much larger section being burnt that pose more of a threat to the public, but it is a good idea to put it on their radar.
This hike consisted of a 840m elevation gain over the 4.5km one way trip so bring your walking sticks if needed for you knees. There was no obvious sources to water along the path and over half the hike was in the open sun shine. Once on the summit there was a cool breeze so be sure to dress and be prepared for the elements. But if you really want to know more about Joss Mountain the best thing you can do is get outside and hike it for yourself!