In the far northern reaches of the Cascade Mountains lies a group of alpine peaks rising from the forested mountains that dominate this part of the range. The highest of these is 7437-ft Stoyoma Mountain, a prominence generally considered to be the "last big mountain in the North Cascades." At risk of overusing the term, the peak is like an island in the sky, without much nearby to block the expansive 360-degree summit views. With nothing but rolling bumps to the east and north, an array of peaks in the Cascade Range far to the south and most notably the glaciated giants flanking the west side of the Fraser Canyon, the perspective is unique and for me a big part of the appeal. For those based in Vancouver, Stoyoma is unfortunately also an objective where the time spent driving there and back greatly exceeds that spent hiking. All I can say to that is at least this was before gas prices hit the Stratosphere!
Turning off Hwy 8 at Petit Creek west of Merritt, I proceeded up the Spius Creek FSR for what seemed like an eternity before reaching the fork that leads up to Cabin Lake. All smooth gravel to this point and against my better judgement I decided to turn up this very rough fork trying to get as close as possible to the trailhead. Sure enough, the tire pressure light flicked on shortly before I parked the truck. Gave it a bit of time to see how bad the leak was but couldn't make out which tire was affected and figured it wasn't anything that needed immediate attention. So off I go for Stoyama, following a path of sorts, then losing it on a short descent through trees to reach a wide basin below the peak's east facing slopes. Then up, over heather, scree and finally a bit of talus to reach a prominent saddle in the north-south running ridge. Turned right here and finished with an easy hike to the summit proper, no more than two hours from where I parked. Great views as mentioned, with the ring of connecting ridges and peaks to the immediate west almost looking like a crater. Neat to see.
I still had time to burn but didn't fancy the long trek out to tag Stoyoma's Widow, so decided to go back and check on the truck instead and if all was well proceed to Cabin Lake and perhaps see if I could locate the wreckage of a Douglas A-26C that went down in the area back in '74. Back to the truck in no time, where the tires still looked okay. Phew! Okay, onwards on foot to Cabin Lake, smartly deciding not to push my luck any further. Pretty little lake with some picnic benches and such, and just one other vehicle parked. Wasn't obvious which way the wreckage was and with a long drive still ahead of me I decided to call it a day and head back. Alas, my luck finally ran out not five minutes down that rough ass road now with a hissing and rapidly deflating tire. To make matters worse, try as I might I simply could not loosen the lug nuts as the shitty OEM lug wrench was stripped. Fuck! With no alternatives, I limped back down to the main FSR and figured I'd drive slowly for as long as possible in hopes of running into someone that could help. Fortunately, it wasn't long before the jeep which was parked at the lake came up behind me, the driver of which being prepared for BC backroads graciously helped me remove and replace the flat. Pleasant fellow, we'd bump into each other again randomly at the Camelshoof Peak trailhead some nine months later. But anyway, can't thank you enough for saving my ass! Till we meet again friend...