Hiking up Mosquito Mountain
By Flavien Mabit
Mosquito Lake and Mosquito mountain famously take their name not from the well-known animal that turns a picnic with friends into an ordeal, but from the lesser-known Mosquito Bomber plane. Developed and built essentially during WWII, but also used after the war, the de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Bomber had a fuselage made using Balsa and Sitka Spruce. A lot of the logging camps set up during the war effort supplied the military industry. Nearby "Aero Camp", in Gillatt Arm, just out of Moresby Camp, also derives its name from plane building.
While Mount Moresby, the tallest point on Haida Gwaii at 1148m high, is a massive, roundish-looking rock, Mosquito Mountain, just west of Mount Moresby is a mountain with a series of rugged peaks, each called Mosquito, followed by a number: M1, M2 etc. Its highest peak sits at 1015m, and not as high when compared to other mountains on the mainland.
A hike up Mosquito mountain is tough but rewarding. The trailhead to this fantastic hike is hard to find, and harder even to get to: you first need to cross Mosquito lake.
There are a few places where one can put to the water to explore the lake. The lake itself is very scenic and there is a campsite on its eastern shore. On the east shore is also where the Mount Moresby Adventure Camp (MMAC) is located. The MMAC is a camp with two very beautiful buildings, made on the Haida longhouse model, that was essentially built to host week-long immersion sessions for youth of the area and beyond. While at camp the youth do a lot of outdoor activities and learn about nature, local aboriginal culture and sustainable living.
Mt Moresby Adventure Camp Society site
The outing to Mosquito Mountain that I did a few years ago was actually organized by some of the MMAC leaders, for their final week-end of the camp season. The idea was mainly to flag and clear the trailhead, and those who felt like it could go on and attempt the climb. We all set out in the morning, young and old, parents and children, outsiders and leaders, in kayaks and onboard canoes to cross the lake.
Just paddling on the lake is wonderful in itself
It is quite a long paddle, about an hour or so, to get to the western edge of the lake. There is a small valley between the mountains on the extreme south western side of the lake where roaring streams tumble from the mountainsides finish their fall, and meander to the shores of the lake.
The small creeks have brought down enough sediments to make the approach in shallow waters fairly easy. There is no real beach but a bit of gravel area, and then a flat grassy meadow, where deer like to graze.
Arriving in a kayak
When we had put our canoes and kayaks safely up on the shore, someone stumbled across a fawn in tall grass.
She almost stepped on it really. Fawns seem to do that: their defence technique, when threatened, is to play dead. The spots on their backs is also meant to make them blend in the landscape a little more.
Everybody stopped to look at it and take pictures. We saw another one of those tiny fawns at the edge of the forest. They wer the only the two we saw - who knows how many were maybe still hiding in the tall grass?
The forest is quite dense. There are also two main creeks in this valley, with the main valley actually splitting in two with one creek on the far right and one going straight on the left. To get to the trailhead one should follow the creek on the left hand side. There should be flagging tape on some trees, but no real trail, just a general route going towards the back of the valley. The best, as you follow that creek, is to stay on its left bank (which is, if you have your back to the flow, on your left hand side).
The trail does not actually start at the very back of that left valley but instead will climb up the side of a massive outcrop. The trailhead itself is heavily marked with flagging tape.
A summit through the clouds
From the valley floor, if you are fortunate enough to find the trailhead, it is a very steep climb up, until you hit the alpine, and where things start to become interesting.
Once in the alpine, the terrain flattens into some glacial-looking upper valleys (with lots of snow and ice when we got there in June).
On this particular day, we went right to follow a ridgeline that brought us to a flat summit. From there, we had views of the West Coast and Peel Inlet.
It is possible, apparently to go down towards the West Coast. There are some old hiking routes leading down there, for the experienced hiker only.
Looking down towards the West Coast
Going back down towards Mosquito Lake is done via the same route.
Mosquito Mountain is one of the easier alpine areas to reach and explore on the islands. Once in the alpine and its open terrain, it looks like it is possible to explore the whole area for days: There are many peaks. There are some glacial lakes and a potential route to the West Coast...
A huge playground!