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Overnight Family Trek to the Sydney Vallance (Fryatt Valley) Hut

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A Bit of Bush Near The Headwall.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

After a very dreary forecast over Mother's Day my Mom and I were planning on a family trek of some sort before she headed out east for the summer. Eventually we settled on an overnight trip up to the Fryatt Valley Hut. I had actually never been up to the Fryatt Valley before but heard very good things about the hut from many other folks. Given short time constraints we could only go for an overnight trip but hauled in a great feast to make good use of the hut. The approach to the hut is fairly long (over 20km one way with around 1000m of elevation gain) but there are two ways to shorten the day: the first ~11 km to the Lower Fryatt Campground can be biked or a canoe can be used to cross the Athabasca River cutting off about 7km. Not having a boat, and my Mom not having a bike meant we would walk in.


The first 7km or so of the trail doesn't have that much variety but was a nice temperature so made for a good stroll. Before too long we made it to the lower Fryatt Valley campground and met up with two folks who had just come down from the Brussel's Campground and said that the rest of the way up to the hut was wet but in good shape. After the first campground, it becomes obvious that the even if you were allowed to keep biking the trail wouldn't be good for it with bushy patches, a few downed trees, and several creek crossings. After ascending into the Fryatt Valley a stout bridge brings you over to the north side of the creek and onwards to the Brussle's Campground.


Leaving the trail on the side of the Geraldine Lakes Road.


Around 7 km down the trail is where you would want to cross with a canoe.


Another few centuries and there might be hoodoos here.


Looking across the valley to summit nearby Mount Kerkeslin.


My Mom negotiating one of many small stream crossings.


Stopping off for a snack at the Brussles Campground.


Time to leave the bush on the trail and head towards Fryatt Lake.


After the campground, the trail briefly breaks out of the bush heading over a talus field before descending down to the turquoise waters of Fryatt Lake. The lake itself was one of the highlights of the trip and is certainly worth seeing. The trail gets a little bit rougher around the lake but is still nicely traversed. After the lake, the trail started to rise up towards the Headwall Campground which is fairly bushy but still a decent place to stop for a late lunch. Ascending the headwall itself was both wet and slippery but didn't take too long to sort out. There was a brief section of downed bush that was bypassed (follow orange flagging). After the headwall itself, a quick 5 minute walk leads to the front door of the (very comfortable) hut. Right when we got to the hut a blast of flurries started blowing shortly turning a nice summery day into a chilly wintery stroll.


Interesting rock on the outliers of Mount Fryatt.


Fryatt Lake has a lovely color.


A few roots to contend with beside the lake.


Really neat color between the moss and evergreens.


Almost at the Headwall Campground with the waterfall in sight.


Views from the Headwall Campground.


The headwall itself still has a trail but is steep in places.


Above the headwall back to nice flat walking for a couple minutes before reaching the hut.


Quite a frosty place for a dip no doubt!


The Sydney Vallance Hut in a brief window of winter.


After unpacking and getting a few things ready for dinner we took advantage of a brief break in the flurries to check out the area around the hut. The Upper Fryatt Valley is surely a special place and worth spending a few days to check out the sights (and from reading the register many folks do just that a few entries even describe a cave close to the hut!). The views looking up towards the very striking Brussels Peak might be another highlight of the trip for me.


Brussles Peak is a very striking sight.


Zoomed in towards Brussles Peak and Mount Christe.


We were really wishing for more time at this point to explore the upper valley.


Looking up towards the Karpathos/Kleodora col.


Overnight the winds picked up but thankfully we didn't wake up to a foot of snow! After leisuerly making breakfast (of fairly decadent chocolate pancakes) it was time to pack up our things and start to head back down towards the road. The way down was a fair bit easier, especially the headwall and we made good time down to the Brussels Camp where a group of lads had been camping the previous night. The rest of the way down to the road was steady plodding but with just enough views to keep travel pleasent. That being said when getting to the side of the Athabasca 7km from the road we were both wishing that we had stashed a canoe!


The hut looked a little bit warmer the next morning.


Back down at Fryatt Lake.


Quite the pair of cairns above the lake.


Back down at the canoe-crossing, 7km to go!


Looking up at Mount Hardity across the valley from near the trailhead.


The car at last.


A long way for a two day trip but a very rewarding time!

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