Friday, September 30, 2011

Mount Cheam BC - Legend and Sin

 Chilliwack* is encircled with a necklace of mountains but none capture the attention and imagination of residents more than Mount Cheam (pronounced locally as "She-am").  This is a landmark that the eye seeks out perhaps because of its pyramid shape or the way light and shadow move across her face. Morning sunlight comes from behind her as the day begins.  I have gazed at her thousands of times each time finding a new expression.  This week, with the Hermann Hiking Group, I went to her summit for only the second time in my life - a great privilege. 

Dog Face (Lady Peak) explained

The previous day an onslaught of rain and wind had blasted the eastern Fraser Valley but when I awoke except for a veil of clouds lightly concealing Cheam from view the skies are remarkably clear.

We muster at stops in Agassiz, Popkum and Sardis with a group of 20 being assigned to the 4x4 vehicles necessary to climb up to the staging area located off the Chilliwack Lake Road; more specifically 27 km from the Vedder bridge.  I am grateful to be placed in Sid's truck both because of his experience driving these rough decommissioned gravel roads and his company.  Along the route Shelley in the back tells us there are 82 dips to cross before we get there and that number 53 is a real bad one.  I start a count and in between the lunging about I reminiscence about the many legends that surround Cheam.

The folklore about Mount Cheam is both beautiful and haunting.  It is the stuff of life and death, transformation and love.  As explained in an earlier post, Mount Cheam, is the wife of Mount Baker and she returned to this place in order to look after both the First Nation people and the Fraser River salmon, fish once essential to their way of life.  Behind her keeping her company is "Lady Peak" but to locals this was always "Dog Face", Mount Cheam's canine companion.

Number 53 lives up to its reputation as the truck grinds over its edge.  We stop a few times to take in the view.  The green hues of the alpine meadows intensify and then recede as light breaks through the clouds. We are almost a mile high.  Magic.

Mount Cheam and Lady Peak,  BC
It is 17.5 km from Chilliwack Lake Road bumping along a gravel road to the top staging area.  Thankfully an outhouse washroom has been built and is properly equipped that is long way to bang about in a truck.

The rain and wind of a day earlier has made the skies crystal clear and a wonderful blue.

I am on the hunt for beauty as we begin our trek.  Beauty it turns out is all around us.

Hermann Hikers and Lady Peak, BC
We pass Spoon Lake which has an interesting impact shape I once thought was the result of a meteor and wrote about it in a post called Cheam and the Great Ice Giant. There is some speculation that Spoon Lake is a kettle lake formed back in the days of the glaciers when a large ball of ice and debris came slamming down from a great height and then melted away leaving the lake.  I look at the embankment it carved away and still think meteor.  Have a look.

Spoon Lake, Cheam Ridge, BC

Back to the hike, the clouds continue to make a quite a show for us on Dog Face and I do my best to capture something awesome in the quickly moving light.

Cloud Play on Lady Peak, BC
I take one more picture of Mount Baker across an alpine meadow and wouldn't you know it my camera runs out of power.  A terrible sin - so sorry.
Mount Baker from Cheam Ridge, BC
The views at the top were captured on another hiker's camera and I will try to get some of these fantastic pictures up soon.  Meanwhile check out the Hermann Hikers Group site.

Living in Chilliwack* comes with the advantage of a having large natural landscape in your backyard.

Imagine living here....

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

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