It was an early start on Saturday morning as Terry, Ian, and myself left metro Vancouver heading to the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area to hike to Flatiron Peak. Opposite the Zopkios Rest Area on Highway 5, is the start of the Needle Peak trail that leads to both Needle Peak, and our destination peak.
The trail starts in the forest on the east side of Highway 5 and over the next few kilometres ascends steeply. The forest was cool and damp with lots of understory growth and towering fir, spruce, and western red cedar trees.
After a few kilometres the trees started thinning out and glimpses of the mountains on the opposite side of the valley are visible, including this “shark fin” shaped mountain named Zupjok Peak.
Looking back up the trail and our destination is visible on the left side.
Shortly afterwards and around the 3 kilometre mark, the trail divides with the north fork heading to Needle Peak and the south fork heading to our destination, Flatiron Peak. Here is a view of the approach to Needle Peak near the junction.
The trail descends slightly and briefly enters forest as it makes it’s way across a saddle towards Flatiron. Ascending out of the trees, a full view of Needle Peak is visible with this small bleached snag in the foreground.
Just below Flatiron Peak, is this small unnamed tarn.
As we were enjoying the tarn and looking at the route to the peak, a helicopter made several low passes over us before heading out of view. We would soon understand the reason for the helicopter. The trail from the tarn to the peak is a bit technical, though nothing more than some steep pitches and boulder stepping. Nearing the top, we were surprised to see a bride and groom along with a few others on the peak, explaining the presence of the helicopter.
After the ceremony the newly married couple headed over towards where we had setup for lunch and photos. What followed was a bit of a laugh with some good nature ribbing about the paparazzi, namely Ian and Terry, busy photographing them alongside the official photographer!
Flatiron Peak is not officially named but rather is the given name. It consists of granite slabs, heather, and the occasional stubby tree in a wide, mostly flat top. The views were impressive of the surrounding peaks, including the nearby Needle Peak (right) and the top of Yak Peak (left).
A Comcast shell, weather shielding for radio equipment, is also present on the peak.
On the northern side was a large sheet of snow and ice with sun cups dimpling the surface. You can spot the shark fin shape of Zupjok Peak in the distance along with numerous others in this south west view.
I like these two views of Needle Peak, each with a different foreground material. The first with sun cupped snow and red algae, and the second with a distinctive ridge through the granite. The second photo also shows the distinctive bald face Yak Peak across the valley.
As we descended down to the tarn, we choose a different route, more to the east that led to the back side of the tarn. The view from there was impressive with Needle Peak on the right, Yak Peak across the valley on the left side, and the tarn reflecting the clouds. The red splash of colour beside the lake is a tent.
Upon reaching the lake, I asked Ian to pose on the this diamond shaped rock to provide some perspective on Needle Peak. While I took two compositions, one vertical and this horizonal one, this one has the arrow shaped clouds on the left pointing inwards towards the peak and Ian.
As we headed back to the car, and prior to heading into the forest, we had one last view of Needle Peak with this spruce tree indicating the harsh growing conditions here.
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