Spencer Peak

May 29, 2020


Tamihi Creek / Chilliwack Lake Road, BC

Spencer Peak is rather just a partially-forested bump on the long and undulating ridge between Mt. McGuire and the Border Peaks with only 50 m of topographical prominence, but the name is official hence it’s on my bag list. I had done both of the Border Peaks and Mt. McGuire and I figured this peak could offer some nice views of the surrounding giants. The summit area looked open enough on Google satellite images so I reserved it for a sunny day. The access is via Tamihi Creek logging roads and the approach is the same as for Canadian Border Peak. This road had been on-and-off in the past decade. Several trip reports of that area popped out on some of the Facebook groups in the past several weeks and for the sake of the access I knew I had to do Spencer Peak soon.

The weather forecast for this weekend had been very shitty but Friday looked decent enough to get out. Unfortunately I had to work from mid-morning to mid-afternoon but after some math work Alex and I figured it’s doable to hike up Spencer Peak for sunset. We quickly found two more volunteers to join – Vlad and Wendy and the four of us gathered at my home in White Rock at 3:30 pm. The traffic through Langley had been pretty ridiculous especially considering this stupid pandemic thing going on. It seemed like everyone’s going out on a sunny Friday afternoon though the weekend weather would be shit. It took me more than an hour and half to drive past Chilliwack and then the Tamihi Creek FSR was also a slow show due to a dumped trailer on road, potholes and deep water bars. The condition of this road was worse than three years ago. It didn’t impose much problem to my stock Tacoma but in any smaller vehicle with less clearance I’m sure we would have to turn around. The last two water bars before the driveable end was particularly deep but I somehow managed to clear them without scratching the bottom.

Spencer Peak from Tamihi Creek FSR. GPX DL

We finally parked after 2 hours leaving home but thankfully we had planned enough contingency to complete this hike before sunset. After two switchbacks or so the road/trail had become increasingly overgrown with alders to push through, and running water on the ground. This was again, not something I was expecting as three years ago we were passed by dirtbikers much higher up on the road. Right now the road was already decently tough to walk on. It was also Wendy’s first time bushwhacking so she got some good experience in this trip. The snowline was also much higher than I thought. Two days ago I was in Hemlock Valley about 50 km to the north and here, the snowline was at least 200 vertical meters higher, meaning more bushwhacking on the road. Eventually the brushes gave way to continuous snow and we had a cruise sail to the base of Spencer Peak.

Taco high up in Tamihi Creek valley

Canadian Border Peak, American Border Peak and Mt. Larabee

Starting the hike in late afternoon

The initial bits were pretty good.

The road soon became bushy

Vlad posing for Instagram!

Alex and Vlad hiking up one of the open stretches

Wendy hiking up this same open stretch

Vlad bushwhacking

Wendy got to taste her first bushwhack experience

Finally hitting continuous snow

It seemed like a gorgeous evening ahead of us

Wendy plodding up with American Border Peak behind

Tomyhoi Peak just across the US/Canada border

Me posing in front of the evening sun

Me in front of Tomyhoi Peak

Marching up on the deactivated Tamihi FSR.

Wendy tried to scramble up this pile of loose scree

After a bit of resting we resumed the plod. Tomyhoi Peak behind

Another photo of Wendy with Tomyhoi Peak

Vlad and I on the road.

Vlad and I discussing A.B.P.

Alex and Wendy hiking this flat stretch towards the end of this road.

The original plan was to follow the road to the south side of the summit “bump” but upon seeing a stretch of cut-block filled with snow we decided to ascend steeply onto the west ridge taking advantage of the open terrain and views. Once gaining the ridge we traversed the broad, forested ridge over several false summits to the highest point, but the better view appeared to be farther down the ridge so we kept traversing for another 200 m or so and settled for dinner and sunset. The sunset wasn’t as spectacular as expected because the sun was behind Mt. McGuire.

Wendy ascending the cut-block.

Yet another photo of Wendy in front of Tomyhoi Peak

A closer look at Tomyhoi Peak

Me near the end of this cut-block.

Me traversing the flat ridge towards the true summit

Vlad on the ridge

Alex with Slesse Mtn. and the Border Peaks behind

A closer look at Slesse Mountain

Welch Peak et al. on Cheam Range

Mt. Baker, Colfax and Lincoln with “Damfino Peak” poking to their left

Cheam Peak and Lady Peak in the distance

Me taking in the views in front of Border Peak and Mt. Larabee

Me taking in the views with the Cheam Range on the horizon

This is me in front of Mt. McGuire

Our dinner spot with Tomyhoi Peak behind

Our group shot on Spencer Peak

Once the show’s over we reluctantly slogged back up to the true summit and across the west ridge and then down the cut block to the road. I unfortunately fell into a hole with running water underneath but it was only a bit over waist deep so I crawled out. The rest of the hike-out was a bit of a slow show and required caution bushwhacking in dark. We all put sun hat and sunglasses back on in order to protect our faces and eyes from being stabbed by the alders.

Hiking back down the cutblock. I went for a glissade here which was fun

I soon fell into a hole… Photo by Alex R.

It’s getting dark in no time…

Bushwhacking in dark wasn’t so fun…

The drive-out also required some extra care negotiating a few deep water bars and one slanted wash-out. I think I managed to scrape the bottom of my truck only once, so wasn’t too bad. I think this road’s slowly falling apart so come while it’s still in. However, with Mt. McGuire, Spencer Peak and Canadian Border Peak all bagged (and American Border Peak done from the US side) I don’t need to return here anymore. I was pretty tired but with good friends it wasn’t that hard to stay awake. I eventually got back home after 1 am, and didn’t fall asleep until after 2 am.