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Mt Cheam and next-door Lady Peak are amazing hikes and the views from the summits are so amazing that I keep wanting to return and enjoy it all again. After hiking slightly lower Mt Archibald earlier this year but being in the cloud at the summit, I was even more insistent about completing another hike of Cheam where one can drink in the beauty of creation. Originally Nick was quite interested in joining me on Cheam but after the drive to Archibald he really felt he could not stomach another dual pass over the logging road to the parking area. So, he unfortunately was not available. As I had hiked the trail many times, I felt I could go it alone, as even mid-week I expected that a few others would be on the trail, unlike the week-end when it would be too crowded.
So come Sunday, I checked the weather and felt that Tuesday as originally planned would be too iffy but Monday would be a great day for hiking, I changed plans to do the hike on Monday. On the morning of, it was a lovely start to the day and I quickly loaded up the truck and started out for the trailhead. The drive itself was not without some issues. All was fine to the gas station but as I pulled out, I noticed that my speedometer had decided to not work! I stopped and restarted the truck which fixed it for a short time, after a few tries of that and not seeing any other issues I opted to ignore it and continue on my way.
The speedometer stayed off throughout the drive and I expected it to remain so on the logging road but once I got on the rough road the speedometer started working again and remained functioning for the rest of the drive there and home! I guess it just wanted to feel the road. The Chipmunk spur was as rough as before and no easier on one’s body but I continued along and eventually arrived at the parking lot. There were a few trucks already parked so I knew the trail would have a few on it. I chatted with another hiker who had arrived a bit before me. It was his first time here so I gave him a few tips about the trail.
I started up the trail which follows the closed continuation of the logging road and made good time along it to the lower bowl. The colours of the plants and grasses were lovely and I took some time to enjoy the sights and take photos while I gathered my breath. Then it was on to spoon lake and the first steep section of the trail. I continued to make good time up the slope and through the small patch of trees after which I took a short rest before traversing the alpine meadow across the flank of Lady Peak. All this while I had the trail to myself, so nice. I continued along the easy section and the up another steep bit to where the Lady and Cheam trails part. There I stopped for a longer rest before continuing to Cheam. It was on to the col between the two summits where a small pond had a tiny amount of water. Many do camp at this spot as it is a broad area between the two summits and offers many camping areas.
Next was the series of switch-backs on the final rise to the summit. Here I met a group of 4 descending they having enjoyed the summit view. As I neared the final leg to the upper ridge, I met the guy I talked to in the lot coming down. We conversed further, he told that he was a fire fighter and was looking to do more outdoors activities and thought hiking some local summits would be fun. After a few minutes we parted ways and then I was onto the ridge and finally the summit. Today I had it to myself. After a few minutes rest I decided it was time to face the chasers, or the lack thereof it being a Monday afternoon. I set up my radio gear and put out my first CQ. I had an immediate reply and very quickly had completed several and felt good as my goal had been achieved. Over the next hour I continued making contacts while snatching brief bites of lunch between them, eventually completing 27 by the time I felt I needed to start back down. That was a surprise! I thought I would have a tough time getting enough never mind setting a new high for 2m contacts. All this time I shared the summit with only a small chipmunk who kept hoping I would share my lunch whereas on a week-end one would be jostling for position at the summit. It really was a lovely view to the west along the Fraser Valley with some clouds forming and dissipating just below me. I could have stayed longer but the wind was picking up and I felt it was time to head down.
At the bottom of the high ridge is a park bench fixed to the rock and a young couple had been sitting on it enjoying the view. As I approached, they got up and started for the summit I had just left. They had quite enjoyed the view so far. A short way further down I came across another chap around my age taking a breather. I encouraged him that he was actually almost there as he wasn’t sure he would make it. Then came a group of four. I continued down the switch backs, across the col and down past the fork to Lady Peak. Then across her flank where I met two more with dogs. They were planning on summiting but I cautioned them that it was getting late and as they had already said they had lost their way on this very easy to follow trail I really couldn’t see them following it on the way out in the dark.
After a short rest just before the stand of trees before the steep section, I continued on to the truck getting down in around 90 minutes. A good time though my 2.75 hour ascent was a bit slow. The final challenge was the drive back along the Chipmunk spur and then the highway. After a short stop in Sardis for some caffeine, the rest of the drive went without incident. I felt that the day was a great success and I am sure I will be back again and maybe even hike the Lady Peak summit again.