Century Sam is both the name of a character & the name of a lake in Strathcona Park, named after the character. The Comox District Mountaineering Club recently had their annual hike to this spectacular location, in a steep-sided bowl below the Comox Glacier.
Access to the trailhead is via a private logging road which is best accessed with the Mountaineering Club. The trail follows Comox Creek past a huge rockslide north of the creek, with just the faintest edge of the Comox Glacier visible high above the peaks ahead to the west.
After two hours & 400m elevation gain, the arrival at Century Sam Lake was extremely welcome, in the over 30 degree heat of the day.
The lake is an exquisite turquoise – more typical of mainland glacier-fed lakes, unusual on Vancouver Island. A stone cairn commemorates Sid Williams: ‘Century Sam’.
“Honouring Sid Williams of Courtenay, who played the role of ‘Century Sam’, the old prospector, during our 1958 British Columbia Centennial celebrations.
Sid was an actor and comedian, a tireless volunteer who enriched the community.
In 1984, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his lifetime of irrepressible humour and his service to others.
Sid was also a keen hiker and skier who loved these mountains.
Remembered by family and friends. 1992.”
The Sid Williams Theatre in downtown Courtenay is also named for him – another fitting tribute.
A rock outcrop on the north side of the lake is an enticing lunch spot with views down to the lake & cairn and Comox Creek valley beyond.
To the west, the steep bluffs shade deep snow directly below the Comox Glacier. The deepest snow remains all year, gradually melting from underneath & forming snow caves. Some years there is so much snow that even the lake remains covered, never melting. The snow levels this past winter were quite low & caves were visible from the lunch rock above.
The entrance to the large snow cave was actively melting in the hot sun. Inside , the cool air was refreshing.
The scale of the caves seemed huge when contrasted with photographers outside.
The meltwater from below branched in multiple directions over the rocks, eroding several cave entrances from below.
This waterfall spills directly from the Comox Glacier above the ridge. Beautiful flowers including these pink monkeyflowers flourish in the streams as the snow melts.
The CDMC trip report & more photos are here.