The Squarehead

August 3, 2021


Vancouver Island, BC

The Squarehead is officially-named but is rather just a pimple attached to Mt. Joan. It does not even boast over 100 m prominence although it does look like a peak from the lower north ridge of Mt. Joan. An unofficially-maintained trail traverses up and over this summit to link up Mt. Joan with Mt. Curran. Earlier in the day Alex, Vlad and I had hiked to the summit of Mt. Joan and upon returning we still had time, so decided to make a quick grab of this peak to boost our numbers. I was not too keen but it’s an easy number boost, so why not.

Mt. Joan and The Squarehead hiking route. GPX DL

None of us knew much about the quality of the trail that connects Mt. Joan with The Squarehead so in my mind I was expecting bushwhacking and route-finding. The reality surprised all of us as the trail was very well-defined and easy to follow. In short time we had plodded to the top only to realize the true summit was one bump farther to the north. There’s even a register on this little pimple which also surprised us. By this point I had done fair amount of trips on the island and I can safely say that the hiking/mountaineering culture there is very different than in South Coast regions.

The Squarehead in the foreground from partway down Mt. Joan
Vlad scrambling up The Squarehead with Mt. Joan behind
Vlad topping out on his scrambling variation route
Alex marching up towards the true summit
Summit Panorama from The Squarehead. Click to view large size.
Nine Peaks, Big Interior Mountain and Mt. Rosseau/Mt. Septimus massif
Me on the summit of The Squarehead
Another photo of me on the summit

We all ran out of water at this point so we immediately started the descent. Alex set a blistering pace rushing down the trail and got us down to that creek in no time. We took a long break there recollecting our strength, both mentally and physically, before committing to the long ass plod down the trail and the logging road. My feet had developed numerous blisters from hiking in this hot weather in the past few days.

Time to head down
This lovely stream was the only water source on this entire hike
The uppermost logging road section was quite bushy and overgrown
The gigantic dry creek that required some detouring
Much lower down now after a few kilometers of numbing slog
We could see the parking lot across some massive logging clear-cuts

Earlier in this trip we had somehow booked a ferry ticket for the 6:15 pm ride and we estimated to have about 3 extras to kill. While driving back towards Nanaimo we spontaneously decided to dumpster-dive. The first target was Little Mountain near Parksville and that’s entirely a drive-up, so why not. The second objective was Cottle Hill in the vicinity of Nanaimo. I called that one as I saw a road to the top but the road was gated (not to our surprise), so we just walked to the top despite the massive blisters on my feet.