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Bivouac or Bivy - Clayoquot Hiking Terms

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Bivouac or Bivy - Clayoquot Hiking Terms


Bivouac or Bivy: a primitive campsite or simple, flat area where camping is possible.  Often used to refer to a very primitive campsite comprised of natural materials found on site such as leaves and branches.  Often used interchangeably with the word camp, however, bivouac implies a shorter, quicker and much more basic camp setup.  For example, at the Taylor Meadows campground in Garibaldi Park, camping is the appropriately used term to describe sleeping there at night.  If instead you plan to sleep on the summit of Black Tusk, bivouacking would be more accurately used.  In the warm summer months around Whistler you will find people bivouacking under the stars with just a sleeping bag.  The wonderful, wooden tent platforms at Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park are ideal for this.

Bivouac Along the West Coast Trail

The image above is along the hostile West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.  The bivouac below is along the serene and tranquil Russet Lake in the summer.

Bivouac at Russet Lake

Russet Lake is a fantastic alpine lake that lays at the base of the Fissile.  The Fissile is the strikingly bronze coloured mountain so visible from Whistler Village.  From the Village look into the distance at the Peak to Peak hanging between Whistler and Blackcomb and you will see the Fissile.  Its pyramid shape in the distance perfectly separates the two mountains.

Aerial Video of the Fissile

There are several ways to get to hike Russet Lake.  The Singing Pass Trail from the base of Whistler Mountain near the Whistler Gondola.  The Musical Bumps Trail that begins near the top of the Whistler Gondola.  The High Note Trail that begins at the top of the Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain.  There is an increasingly popular route that begins from Blackcomb Mountain.  And finally, a very infrequently hiked route from Cheakamus Lake that runs along Singing Creek.

Blackcomb in Garibaldi Provincial Park

Blackcomb Mountain has come alive with beautiful hiking trails in recent years.  With the 2008 addition of the Peak to Peak Gondola which connects Blackcomb to Whistler, the demand for mountain trails is higher than ever.  A dozen years ago, you would just have had some rough hiking trails to follow, and not many hikers to follow them.  Now you have mapboards, trail signs, viewpoint seating areas and six popular, named trails to hike.

Bivouac - Flank Trail in Whistler

The image above is bivouacking along the Flank Trail in Whistler.  The image below is and aerial video of Bivouac Island in Callaghan Lake, Whistler.

Bivouac - Callaghan Lake Provincial Park

Callaghan Lake Provincial Park is a relatively untouched wilderness of rugged mountainous terrain.  The valley walls were formed by relatively recent glaciation.  Evidence of this can be seen in the considerable glacial till and slide materials visible across the lake.  Around the lake you will see talus slopes, flat rock benches, cirques, hanging valleys, tarns, waterfalls and upland plateaus with bogs.  The wildlife that reside in the area include bobcats, cougars, coyotes, minks, wolverines, wolves, bears, deer, mountain goats and occasionally moose and grizzly bears.

Glossary of Hiking Terms


Highpointing: the sport of hiking to as many high points(mountain peaks) as possible in a given area.  For example, highpointing the Highpointing - Clayoquot Hiking Termslower 48 states in the United states.  This was first achieved in 1936 by A.H. Marshall.  In 1966 Vin Hoeman highpointed all 50 states.  It is estimated that over 250 people have highpointed all of the US states.  Highpointing is similar peakbagging, however peakbagging is the sport of climbing several peaks in a given area above a certain elevation.  For example, a highpointer may climb the summit of Wedge Mountain, the highest peak in the Garibaldi Ranges, then move to another mountain range.  Whereas a peakbagger may summit Wedge Mountain, then Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, Mount Garibaldi and many more high summits in the region.

Panorama Ridge Aerial Video

Hoary Marmot: the cute, invariably pudgy, twenty plus pound ground squirrels that have evolved to live quite happily in the hostile alpine areas of much of the world. In the northwest of North America, marmots have a distinct grey in their hair, a hoary colour, so have been named hoary marmots. They manage to survive quite happily in the alpine, largely by hibernating for 8 months of the year and largely for having a surprisingly varied array of food in such an inhospitable environment. Hoary Marmot - Clayoquot Hiking TermsThey live off of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, and roots and flowers. And live quite well it seems, as they always look chubby, which has one great drawback. They are sought after by bears and wolves. They have a wonderful defense system though. They are constantly on watch and whistle loudly at the first sign of danger, alerting the colony. The prevalence of these "whistlers" as they came to be locally called, in the early days of London Mountain resulted in it's name being changed to Whistler Mountain in the 60's. Hiking on Whistler, Blackcomb or Wedgemount Lake in the summer will almost guarantee an encounter with a chubby, jolly little whistler marmot.

Krummholz: low-stunted trees found in the alpine.  From the German “twisted wood”.  Continuous exposure to hostile, alpine weather causes trees to form in bizarre and stunted ways.  Many types of trees have formed into bizarre krummholz trees including spruce, mountain pine, balsam fir, subalpine fir, limber pine and lodgepole pine.  The lodgepole pine is commonly found in the alpine regions around Whistler.

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