Mount Wheeler is the middle mountain in a the north-south series (Opax, Wheeler, Mara) dividing the grasslands from the Tranquille River Valley. There are two main routes up and over the mountain, from Pruden Pass on the south side and from Lac du Bois on the northeast. We have run, biked, hiked, scrambled, and snowshoed on Wheeler, but for this last outing, we chose to snowshoe up the mountain from Lac du Bois. The route can be a bit hard to follow, but with some careful navigation, a double track to the top and back is available.
- Park at Lac du Bois and follow the track around the east side, heading south.
- Follow this double track into the park. Pass by the first lake and just past an aspen grove, look for a turn uphill to your right (at N50 47.031 W120 46.990).
- Follow this track up the hill and around the large pond. Do not take a right fork just pas the pond (this track heads down to Hanging Valley). Continue along this track as it turns south.
- About 1km after the pond, a track angles uphill to the left. Do not take this track. It dead-ends on a steep sidehill. Continue along as the track bears southwest. This track had been heavily driven on with snowmobiles, firm enough to walk on. Another intersection is reached at N50 47.159 W120 28.462. The route to the left goes to the top of the mountain. That route is a bit steeper and the upper section of the track is more grown in. It had seen no snowmobiles so we enjoyed the quiet climb in soft snow.
- The track on the right goes around the west side of the mountain at a lower altitude (65 vertical metres lower) but is a more gradual route, though longer. The lower route continues over the mountain and down to Pruden Pass.
- The upper track emerges at a pond and there are a number of places to stop for lunch and to take in the view. This is not really the top of the mountain. The highest point is in the forest to the east, but has no views.
- Pick a spot on either track for lunch and then follow your own tracks back, about 10.5km of snowshoeing.
At the top we spotted a snag with a woodpecker hole high above us. We watched it, hoping to spot an owl and then we saw a head pop up. The photo shows it was a flying squirrel, woken from its daytime slumber. We had lunch and enjoyed the wide open views south past Mara Mountain to Tranquille, Kamloops Lake, and the Greenstone Mountain.
We enjoyed the 11 km route to the top of Wheeler Mountain and back and would happily do it again each winter.