Day 2 Shadow Lake Campground to Ball Pass Junction Campground, 5.5 km, 143 m Elevation Gain, 64 m Elevation Loss, 5 hrs 45 min. Excursion to Ball Pass, 5.8 km, 310 m Elevation Gain and Loss, 2 hrs 2 min.
This was a great follow up day to our challenging first day. The hiking for the day would be broken into two parts. Part 1 would be a relatively flat hike to Balls Pass Junction Campground. Part 2 would be a day hike from the campground up to Ball Pass which provides one of the most stunning viewpoints in the area (my opinion).
We did have a very nice sleep in. If there is one thing Siobhan can do well it is sleeping. I did not have the coffee on boil until 8:40 am. During breakfast we chatted with two middle aged fathers on a weekend escape from their families. They had lightweight camping chairs and they were more than happy to let Siobhan try them out. Siobhan really enjoyed the comfort of the chairs, wonder what she got for Christmas? We were packed up and ready to go at a very relaxed time of 10:15 am.
“Siobhan: Did I make a big show of the comfy chair, absolutely. Do I now have one? Also yes.”
The first part of the hike was retracing our steps back to Shadow Lake which took about 20 minutes. Shadow Lake was glorious in the daylight and we spent a few minutes enjoying the view. We know that there are Parks Canada Red Chairs at Shadow Lake but we never saw them. I think they are located at the end of the trail that runs along the north shore. The north shore trail dead ends so we never did explore it.
Once we left Shadow Lake it was an easy mostly flat hike to Ball Pass Junction Campground. The trail initially followed Haiduk Creek then with 2 km to go, the trail followed the creek draining Ball Pass all the way to the campground.
“Siobhan: We ran into a group of dayhikers and from Shadow Lake lodge and were joking about my fancy new air mattress and how I would rent it to them for a small fee. One of them offered me a lens cap as a joke but it turned out to be mine that I’d lost in the rocks in the shallows of Shadow Lake the night before!”
We first arrived at the food storage and eating area. We stopped for a quick look before heading to the tent sites. Another lovely bridge took us over the small creek draining Ball Pass and led us to where the tent pads were located. We chose the tent site furthest back from the trail. One downside is that we had to walk right passed a couple of tent sites whenever we wanted to move from our tent.
We ate some snacks and lazily got the tent set up. It was not even noon yet and we had the rest of the day to go explore. I put the beer into the creek to cool off for after our hike to Ball Pass and we headed over to the creek to eat our lunch.
“Siobhan: It was wonderful to have an easy day in our itinerary AND we still had amazing views and a great time.”
We headed off for Ball Pass at 1 pm. The trail is a bit steep right out of camp rising 100 m in just over half a kilometre. After that little wake up call to the legs the trail flattened out rising just 80 m over the next 1.3 km to the base of the cliff where the fun would really start. We passed a lone hiker heading down. We made some small talk with him for a few minutes. I noticed that he had American thru hiking badges on his backpack. It was a little enlightening that after asking him what his itinerary was he simply had no idea. He was headed to K-Country but did not know any the campsites he was planning on staying at. It was pretty obvious that he had no permits. We wished him well and we both headed off. It only took 30 minutes to arrive at the base of the cliff leading to the Pass. I remember when I arrived here with Mikah on our GDT Section C hike in 2020 the sight of the cliff we had to surmount took my breath away. This time I knew that there was a steep but well graded path up the cliff but it was still an impressive sight.
“Siobhan: I also noticed that when the dayhiker passed he had a Pacific Crest Trail tattoo on his calf. Maybe he was so used to non-permit hiking…but please remember to get your permits so everyone has a place to sleep and to Leave No Trace (that means no wild camping where it is not permitted).”
While daunting to look at there is a well designed trail up through the rubble. Shortly after heading up we stepped aside to allow a group to come down. They were a fun group of hikers laughing the entire way. They were staying at Shadow Lake Lodge and had hiked Ball Pass as a day trip. We arrived at the top in just 17 minutes climbing 120 m of elevation over just 400 m of distance. The view from the top did not disappoint.
After a few minutes we headed over Ball Pass to check out the west side. The pass is quite long with a large plateau in the middle. Ball Pass leads to Hawk Valley on the west but the valley snakes around on its way down to Hwy 93 and the Floe Lake Trailhead and does not provide the views that you get from east side.
At 5 pm we started getting ready for dinner and for tomorrow’s hike. Today’s meal was rehydrated spinach rotini it may have been kale rotini but it was homemade and it was great. During dinner we shared the table with the group of young people. There was about 6 or 7 of them and I would guess they were late 20’s early 30’s. They did not feel the need to socialize, as despite a couple of attempts by us they did not engage in any conversation with us. The behaviour was a little unusual in the backcountry but they were a large group. We would run into the again on tomorrow and even on the trail they were not interested in chatting.
“Siobhan: This was my first notable experience meeting people who didn’t want to chat while backpacking. On the Juan de Fuca, Mikah and I actually made friends since we stayed at the same campsites as other groups. These groups were always 4 people or smaller.”
After dinner we went and checked out the biffy before going for a little walk. The biffy was not as good as at Shadow Lake CG but it was not too bad. We wandered around the area working off our dinner getting a decent view back down the valley. Two other groups had arrived and now all the campsites where full. At about 7:30 pm we headed to bed. I read an article in my Scientific American on returning mountain lions to the Los Angeles area then watched the new Jumungi movie with The Rock. After making one last run to the biffy we turned in for the night at 9:30 pm.