After scrambling up Elk Mountain, three of us decided to continue on to Mount Thurston, the actual high point on the ridge. We were in a wee bit of a hurry since the rest of our group was heading back down Elk shortly, and we didn't want to keep them waiting in the parking lot too long. The beta I had indicated that Thurston was about a one hour hike from Elk. That meant 2 hours round trip - a bit too long for our tastes, so we aimed to cut that time down a bit.
The trail from Elk Mountain to Thurston is a diminishing one! We started out on a clear trail that descended about 50 meters before angling back up to the bump between Elk and Thurston. This bump offers the best views of the three high points (ironically it's the only unnamed one!) and sported a huge rock cairn. My curiosity was roused by a brown package visible in the cairn. When I removed it, I noticed a name - 'Augustus John Valaitis' on the package. Upon further inspection I am convinced that what I was holding was the ashes of a person named 'Augustus'! I carefully re-buried the package.
It took us about 20 minutes to get to the summit of the middle bump. The sun was hot and the bugs annoying as we hurried down the trail to Mount Thurston. This trail was much smaller than the one we'd been on to Elk and the middle bump. An obvious testament to the fact that far less hordes bother with the summit of Thurston than Elk or even the middle bump. We managed to squeeze our way up to the beautiful hanging meadow just before Thurston - this meadow and the slope above it had much better views than the summit.
[Grinding our way up to the middle bump between Elk and Thurston.]
[Looking back at Elk Mountain from near the middle bump. Chilliwack in the background.]
After regaining height from the meadow we took a sharp turn to climber's right at the top and came to a small clearing with a survey marker in the rock at its center. Assuming we were on the peak, we snapped some photos and headed back to Elk. It took us another 20 minutes from the middle bump to Thurston - moving at a quick pace.
[Looking up the valley between the Border Peaks and Mount Slesse.]
[Ashes to ashes.]
[Hiking from the middle bump to Thurston Mountain. There was a few beautiful meadows on this stretch.]
[Finally we get some views to the north.]
[The only indication that we're on a summit.]
The trip back to Elk was uneventful, if a little tiring. We had to regain and lose height over the middle bump and back up to Elk in very warm temperatures. I ran all the way down from the summit of Elk and made it back to the parking lot 5 minutes after the main group arrived! My time from Elk to the parking lot was around 45 minutes. I can see why people do this hike after work - it's not a long one! I would recommend the traverse to Thurston from Elk if you have the legs and the time. It adds about 300 meters of vertical and 1.5-2.5 hours to your day but the views and the flowers along the way are worth the effort.
[The view from just off the summit, looking back at the middle bump and Elk Mountain.]
[Zooming in on the mountain ranges to the north, across the Fraser Valley.]
[Another view up the valley.]
[Mount Baker with wild flowers - never get tired of this scenery!]
[Looking at the Cheam Range. From left to right, Cheam, Lady, Knight, Baby Munday, Steward, The Still, Welch and Foley Peak.]
[Another shot of Baker with the ridge and the Chilliwack River.]
[Josh and Serge coming back up to Elk Mountain. On the right is the middle bump and the high point in the back ground is Thurston Mountain. It's further than it looks!]
[One last view back as we descend Elk Mountain.]