Sunshine Coast Trail – Day 8 Golden Stanley Hut

The hike from Walt Hill Hut (km 122) to Golden Stanley Hut (km 145) was always going to be a long day.

Thanks to my food drop plan it was made even longer by a 6.8 km detour out to Dixon Road.  Our plan for the day was to see how we felt and hike as long as possible.

We knew we could camp at Lois Lake Main and we even knew what this site looked like because we stayed there in 2016.

Lois Lake Main is set right on Lois Lake.  It’s accessible by logging road so it attracts a bit more of the party camper, but it’s still beautiful and they have a great rope swing.

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We went to bed at 8 PM to try and catch up on sleep.  When we are backpacking I turn into a kid again and go to bed at the same time.  This usually means sleeping close to 10 hours although I’m usually up twice (once for myself and once with the kids) because no one likes to pee alone!

I woke up at 640 AM and the kids were not far behind.  We got an early start to hiking at 755 AM which wasn’t a bad thing considering the ground we had to cover.

The Walt Hill Hut (km 122) is at 1000 m elevation so you have to descend significantly over 13 km to reach the point where the trail meets Dixon Road and sea level.

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Although this section of trail was called Suicide Pass we didn’t find it difficult.  I actually tried a bit of trail running with the pack.  That may be a bit generous to call it trail running but on downhill sections I just let my momentum carry me instead of fighting the weight of the pack.  I found this was easier on my knees and it will be something I will explore more on future hikes.

I commented in my notes that the trail down from Walt Hill was one of the easiest downhills anywhere with gentle switchbacks and no hard rock pounding.

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We found the woods very pretty in this section.  You reach this table which seems really out of place.  We learned later that this was a tribute to a long time volunteer for the trail that was fantastic at bush whacking.

The kids had fun posing here for some ridiculous pictures drinking tea!

Below is another example of how the trail skirts a logging area.

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When I was planning our food drops I originally considered meeting the Sunshine Coast Shuttle at the point where the trail meets Dixon Road (km 134.7).  This is a good meeting place and it’s cost effective because access is easy for them.

I decided against it because I wasn’t 100% confident that we would arrive there on that day at that specific time.  It turned out my original thoughts had us arriving there at 1 PM but we got to Dixon Road at 1047 AM.  That’s not so bad but we would have been idle for 2 hours waiting on a dusty logging road.

Instead we took everything out of our packs that wasn’t food (sleeping bags, clothes etc.) and stashed it in the bushes in garbage bags so we didn’t carry it for 7 km.  I wrote a little note on it in case it was found – please don’t steal our stuff ;).

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The ‘hike’ down Dixon Road was easy.  It started as gravel but turned to pavement within about 1 km and we found the most amazing blackberries along the way.  They were huge and full of juicy goodness.  We now have a term for a really good blackberry….Dixon Road blackberry…yum!

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Dixon Road meets Highway 101 at the Langbay Store.  I wanted to do our food drop here but they wouldn’t do it.  I ended up finding another place just down the road.  We had fun entertaining the business owner with our stories from the trail.

Thanks to Elaine for being part of our experience.  We loved your ducks and animals!

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When you hike for days on end you crave ‘real food’.  I say real food but what I mean is food that’s not dehydrated.  We each had a calzone that we heated up in the microwave (not bad).

I asked the kids if they would prefer to have a Drumstick or go for quantity with a full container of ice cream.  I think the decision was pretty easy.  We grabbed 3 spoons and ate the whole thing.

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The 3.5 km detour to our food drop only took 45 minutes.  I grabbed some cell service and confirmed my plan that we were ditching all of our hot clothes.  We paid a bit more to take our box of food and fill it with clothes.  I didn’t weigh the box but I’m guessing between us that we shed a good 7-8 lbs.

After the food drop and eating we retraced our steps down Dixon Road to the trail head.  By 1320 PM (2 hour & 20 minute detour) we were back on the trail.   I thought that was pretty efficient use of time because we walked 6.8 km, packed our food again, socialized at the food drop and ate.

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On the hike to Lois Lake Main we encountered some of our only mud on the entire trail.  It seemed so out of place but we stepped around it cautiously and only encountered one soaker.

I think it felt a bit more awkward because I’d just loaded my pack again with food.

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The Lois Lake Dam is shown below.  When you hike the SCT you feel like you are not that far from civilization which in my opinion makes it a great hike if you are practicing your skills.

For example, if you get the food wrong you can get a cab in Powell River at km 50 and restock.  You can also hike out at km 134.7 and go to the Langbay Store.  This doesn’t mean you can just wing it but it’s nice to have a fail safe.

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We made it to Lois Lake Main at 1440 PM.  The hiking between Dixon Road and Lois Lake Main was moderate.

It was hot this day and we were thinking about where we would swim.  We didn’t want to swim too early because we figured we wouldn’t feel like hiking again.  We still had some hiking to do.  We decided to hike to the point where the trail leaves Lois Lake and then jump in.

This didn’t end up working out well.  We stopped at a picnic site a little further down and access to the water was not good so we kept going.  Finally we found a little area where we could bush whack a bit to get to the water.  I ended up jumping in but the kids decided not to swim.

In summary, swim at Lois Lake Main ;).  There’s even a dock to jump into the water.

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The hiking along this section of trail was nice despite being close to the logging road access it’s not abused with inconsiderate campers.

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There were more ferns and I almost lost track of the kids.  Okay, not really.  I think we could smell each other by this point in the hike.

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Hut, hut!  We reached the Golden Stanley Hut at 1630 PM to the peaceful sound of the rushing creek.  I took a picture of the picnic table made by our new favourite people who make this trail possible.

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The hut is right in the middle of a stand of trees.  It’s really a marvel to me how they got the building materials into this section of the trail.  Can a helicopter drop stuff that efficiently!?

The setting for this hut is ideal.  There is a rushing creek about 100 feet downhill that creates a beautiful continuous sound.  When the conditions are right you also get a bit of a view through the trees.

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This is the nicest water source on the trail in my opinion.  There were a lot of great ones but there is something about a rushing creek.  The water is located a short walk south from the hut.  Careful on the rocks as they are slippery….a soaker happened here.

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We were the only ones at this hut again and it was entirely relaxing so I kicked my feet up on this cool foot stool.

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What’s better than a view of an outhouse!?  Not just any outhouse though.  The SCT is experimenting with composting outhouses and I for one give this initiative 2 thumbs up.  The use of wood shavings cuts the smell dramatically.  There is also a funny note on the inside of this one; nice job guys!

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This picture give you a good idea of the setting.  I personally think they should throw some siding on the hut to preserve it for longer but functionally it’s perfect!

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In the evening we played cards with a twist.  The winner was awarded peanut M&M’s.  It made things more interesting as we debated why some M&M’s were smaller than others and how someone may have been shortchanged in their victory!

At this point in the trip I was not worried about our food supplies.  I reviewed things every night and I knew we had more than enough so snacks were for eating.  Normally I ration everything because there is a direct correlation to my pack weight.

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One of the great things about the trail is sharing your experience in the log book.  I wish that I took a picture of every note I recorded.

We often sat in the hut for an hour reading about other people’s experiences.  I find it remarkable that some people run/walk the trail in 5 days.  That’s impressive!  We even heard of a woman who set the record for the trail at some crazy time of 30 hours.  If anyone knows the actual time, please share.

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My daughter wrote the above note and it almost made me cry.  “Thanks to the PRPAWS for the great huts and amazing trail! The trail is marked so well, keep up the great work PRPAWS volunteers, you are all awesome people.”

By this point in the trip I was becoming quite reflective.  I was feeling very grateful for the opportunity to do this trip with my children.  There was no complaining at all, despite 30 C conditions and a nearly 30 km hike.

I was feeling quite proud of everyone.

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