The Monashees is one of a couple places accessible in 2 hours from the Okanagan for some serious mountain hiking (another is Coquihalla Summits). There is no confusing these with hills anymore – this is full on bears, bugs and back-country. To summit any of the peaks requires a multi-day well-planned carry-all-your-stuff back-country camping experience (unless you’re a crazy person). Good weather is also key or the experience could be unpleasant and/or dangerous.
Mount Fosthall is a principal hike and a worthy goal for any experienced hiker. The trailhead for the Monashees is an hour and a half or so east of Vernon with clear signage from the turnoff near Cherryville. The trail starts out unremarkable through forest and eventually passes Spectrum Lake, where it is possible to camp if a short excursion is the plan.
After Spectrum there is some serious elevation gain until little and big Peters Lake where there is sort of a bowl between peaks. Both campgrounds are extremely basic – essentially just tent pads. It is a different world up in the alpine. It is absolutely freezing at night in the middle of summer and the bugs are insane (bring spray). Stopping here would be possible for a day trip but it is also manageable to drop gear and continue on to Fosthall.
After the lakes comes the real worthwhile portion of the journey. Rising up from the forest and toward Cariboo pass is where amazing views across the ridges begin. There isn’t much trail after the pass as it is rocky and barren all the way to the summit. Route-finding is not much of an issue and finding the summit is straight-forward. Expect patches of snow until August.
When we left for the home stretch, the clouds rolled in obscuring any good views from the peak. Such is the risk out in this wilderness. On the return journey from Peter’s Lake the next day if it isn’t all out of your system, a couple hour detour can take you up Slate Mountain for a different perspective of the area.