Most people here in the Pacific Northwest are in agreement about one important thing: our autumn weather has been fantastic! Instead of endless clouds and rain, we’ve had sun! October was especially amazing and I took full advantage of it. I was able to check off four amazing hikes that had been on my list for a few years.
Frosty Mountain, Manning Provincial Park, BC
Date: October 12 Distance: 13 miles Elevation gain: 5,393′
Manning Provincial Park sits at about 4,000 feet above sea level and is located two hours east of Vancouver, BC. The southern park boundary runs along the U.S.-Canada border. The park protects the northern end of the Cascade Mountain Range. Frosty Mountain is the highest peak in Manning Provincial Park at 7,875 feet high.
This was my second time on the Frosty Mountain Trail. My first visit was late June of the summer before. I’d made it to the Larch Meadows but there was still too much snow to go any further. This time my husband and I expected there to be snow and for it to be cold so we packed crampons and gaiters, as well as extra layers of clothing.
We started our hike around 9:00 a.m. under slightly cloudy skies. We settled into our pace over the first couple miles as we made our way up long switchbacks. We rounded over a section of mountain and were able to enjoy a bit less of a burn on our calves. The trail became covered in snow and ice not long after passing through 6,000 feet. We reached the Frosty Creek Campground, four miles in, and took a short break to strap on our crampons.
The next half-mile was steep but worth the effort to reach the plateau where all the larch are. The alpine larch is a coniferous tree but they turn yellow and shed their needles every fall. They’re only found at higher elevations (on this trail they’re above 6,700 feet) and prefer rocky soil and colder weather. Even though the larches are small and skinny they can live for over 2000 years! I always make an effort to visit the larches in the fall to see the beautiful change of colour. We made our way alongside the meadow on the plateau and followed the larches up to the shoulder of Frosty Mountain.
At about 6 miles we reached the tree line. We then had a very steep climb through boulders and scree to reach the eastern end of the ridge line. From there we traversed the ridge and climbed up onto the 7,837-foot summit. The clouds were just barely above our heads, obstructing some of the peaks around us. It was also very windy and cold on the summit so we didn’t stay long. Thankfully the sun popped back out as we made our way back along the ridge, warming us up enough to take some photos.
We had a late lunch break amongst the larches and made our way back down the trail. We got back to the car around 4:00 p.m. with the light already shifting for sunset. All in, it took us about seven hours to hike the 13 mile trail. It was a challenging high-elevation hike especially with snow covering large sections of the trail. Dan and I both agreed it was worth the effort to stand nearly 8,000 feet high!