Category Archives: Snowshoe

Mt Kelly, 17 Apr 2016

Phil A. on Mt Kelly:
“Lured by blue skies and warm temperatures, we set out to conquer Mount Kelly and the ridge to Nordheim Peak in Manning Park. We attacked from Allison Pass (N49° 06.924′ W120° 51.805′). The road had snow from the get go. After getting off track due to some fallen trees we had to bushwhack back on course. At the end of the road, the trail through the woods to the peak of Mount Kelly was slightly difficult to follow due to inconsistent flagging. Once at the peak, the trees thinned out and we easily navigated along the snow-covered ridge (which progressively slushed up in the spring sun). We then walked almost to Nordheim Peak to luxuriate in the sunshine before heading back.

Total elevation gain: 1400 m.
Snowline: Dependent on the side of the mountain, but the road was covered from the road/trail up. Snowshoes necessary.
Distance: 18 km.
Total Time: 7.5 hrs including lunch, breaks, and faffing.”

Mt Seymour, 20 Feb 2016

Chris N. on Mt Seymour:
“The weather was exactly as predicted but the snow conditions were better than I had anticipated. We arrived at the Mt Seymour parking area about 10 am and parked across from the tubing area. The temperature was about freezing and we were treated to about 1/2 hour of light ice pellets before the precipitation stopped. There’s about 1 m of snow at the parking area but over 2 m less than 1 km up the trail. The snow below Brockton Point was heavy and sticky but much nicer past this point. Snowshoes would be advised beyond Brockton Point to prevent postholing. Avalanche conditions were listed as moderate below treeline and considerable at treeline. It was quite foggy at Pump Peak with visibility dipping to about 50 m at times and very flat light. After a lunch stop, we continued on to Second Peak following some ski tracks to the base of the gulley (no snowshoers had ventured further than the first peak that day). The ice pellets rolled underfoot and slowed our accent. The sun peeked out on our descent and provided some really nice lighting.”

Deroche Mountain, 31 Jan 2016

Colleen C. on Deroche Mountain:
“Four snowshoers
Eight cookies
Fifty-four waterbars
Two lakes
Wait, how many waterbars?!

Yes, that’s right FIFTY-FOUR waterbars on this hike! I’ve never seen so many or some so deep on a relatively short stretch of logging road – and as a born and raised BCer, I’ve seen a lot of waterbars in my life.

I’d been warned about these so-called “monster waterbars” but brushed it off as an exaggeration by folks who perhaps didn’t have much experience about how BC deactivates its logging roads. Well, crow eaten. And let me tell you that’s tough for a crow admiring vegetarian.

That said, I perversely found it great fun, both climbing through them and counting them on the way back. We didn’t make the summit so I’ll be re-visiting this area soon. If anyone happens to go before I can get back, let me know your waterbar count (in my astoundedness maybe I miscounted one or two). Though I’d recommend waiting for a bit more snow or a rather a lot less.

The snow conditions may have made some more tricky than usual, but for this I defined a “waterbar” as a distinct, steep down & up all along the length of the Hanson Creek road. Some were natural creek washouts,
rather than dug out by a mad excavator operator futilely but energetically trying to dig a tunnel to China, but not many.

Rainbow Lake, 3 Jan 2016

Jaime A. at Rainbow Lake:
“Eight of us woke up early and braved the frozen fog morning to head out to Rainbow Lake. The trailhead is found along a residential back road in Whistler just off Alta Rd, very accessible. The icy wind at the trailhead had us and our hands frozen in seconds, but we left it behind as soon as we ducked into the trees. Thanks to the full week of perfect, blue-bird days the trail was hard packed and manageable with boots or micro-spikes up until around 5.5 km, where the trail split into a fork, the left side headed to Madely and the right to Rainbow. The trail thinned out after that and the accidental post-holing increased.

The meadows before the lake were stunning with hoar frost that was bigger and more dramatic than any of us had ever seen. It was also the first bit of sun that we had encountered the entire way so it felt great on our frozen faces. We had a very quick lunch on the sunny lake and had to leave the sun behind to try and make it back to the cars before dark, which we did.

It took us 6.5 hours to do the 16 km snowshoe. Impressive for a group of 8 but it was too cold to stop for breaks! The trail markers were few and far between along here, mostly buried under the snow, but we had a packed trail to guide us. Route-finding here would be straight-forward, but trickier in fresh pow. The lack of sun along this trail puts it onto an overcast hiking list for me but it was a great snowshoe with lots of exploring potential beyond and around Rainbow Lake.”

Mt Sproatt, 20 Dec 2015

Colleen C. on Mt Sproatt:
“An intrepid crew of five joined me in an exploratory trip up Mt Sproatt. All of them not merely undeterred by my warnings of cloudy weather, deep snow and tough trailbreaking, but full on embracing it!

Knowing the challenging day ahead, we were well prepared with colourful toques, thermoses of tea, layers galore, headlamps with fresh batteries, GPS, maps, compasses, walkie talkies, avy gear and cookies. Due to the heavy snow conditions and limited daylight hours, we didn’t make the summit but we gave it a good shot and enjoyed a full day in winter paradise. Given the slow slog that is breaking trail uphill, it was about 5 hours up and less than an hour down.

I asked everyone for a memorable moment from the day:

Colleen: Take nearly two metres of pristine fresh powdery snow. Add one snowshoer who’s determined to move through it by any means possible. Result, invention of new sport, snow swimming!

Estafan: The highlight of the day was when my foot decided to go down a hole in the snow above a small creek. I thought it fell into the creek but it didn’t. I’ve got to hand it to Fred the Energizer Bunny for pulling me out of that rabbit hole with such ease!

Darcy: The trees were draped in snow like a village of ghosts. It was challenging but rewarding to climb up steep slopes of snow, wading through waist deep whiteness.

Stephen: The best part was listening to skiers on Whistler Blackcomb narrate their super-exciting day on the slopes over the walkie talkie. My attempt to spice things up with a turkey joke didn’t get any response though. Tough crowd.

Chris: My favourite part on steep snowshoe trips is always coming down. And there were some great drop-offs on this trip to ski over. I probably broke my snowshoe foot plate on one of those descents. You can get replacement bindings at MEC but they don’t stock them – you have to order them. Hopefully, I will get my replacement in time for my holidays!

I didn’t get a quote from Fred, but I know the rest of us won’t forget pushing his car halfway up a looong hill!

Thanks everyone for contributing to a fun trip. Special thanks to drivers Fred and Chris.”

Elfin Lakes, 17 Apr 2015

Audrey at Elfin Lakes:
“I did a last minute callout on a Thursday when the weather forecast announced 4 days of amazing sunshine – indeed, the sun was out the whole time! I also found out about the shelter at Elfin Lakes and thought a weekday outside the summer seemed just perfect to enjoy such a popular spot. Elfin Lakes can be done in a day, but you would miss the best part: the sunset from the deck of the shelter, and the lovely chat with very nice people around your evening dinner 🙂

Stan and I started going up at about 1.30 pm Friday and reached Red Heather after 1h 30m, with snow from halfway. It took us 3 more hours on an amazing ridge with 360° views, to get to Elfin Lakes (which were of course, frozen!) Snowshoes were definitely required from Red Heather to Elfin Lakes because of the new, deep layer of snow that had fallen the week before. We saw many people the next day going up without them, but it was way easier and faster with them!

This was an amazing hike, with great views, a really slow way up (600 m in 11 km) and the shelter has everything you need: bunkbeds, stoves and even electricity (+ an outside pit toilet). Wow! It’s really worth the scramble in the snow! The landscape up there is gorgeous, especially with all the snow.

On Saturday, we took some time to explore the trails going further (unlike the winter trail to Elfin Lakes, which is very well marked and easy to find, trails going further are unmarked), but going further would require to spend one more day up there (especially with all the snow). It took us 3h 30m to go back and we ended the trip with a visit to Howe Sound Brewery in Squamish, yum!

What a fantastic trip, and also my first callout, thanks again for all the help through Facebook!”

Elfin Lakes 17-18 April

Brew Hut, 21 Feb 2015

Tu-Loan at Brew Hut:
“Another great trip into the backcountry with some good Wanderungers! An easy hike in, a great night to camp on the snow (with a hut for socializing, especially if there’s a bachelor party on the go!), and plenty of options for side trips were the highlights of this trip. If you haven’t seen the pictures yet, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76047188@N06/sets/72157648661841903

The information that most of you are looking for though is the directions to the trailhead! We almost didn’t do this trip! When we arrived at the trailhead as per the VOC directions, we were disheartened by the prospect of bushwhacking through an ugly mess of shrubs and pricklies. Fortunately, we bumped into a group of hikers who led us to the right trailhead, not too far from the original winter trailhead. At 8.6 km from the highway on the Roe FSR, take the right branch OR park there if one does not have a high clearance vehicle (this trip can be done with a 2wd, unless there is snow on the road). About 1 km from the junction (stay straight on the road and don’t mind the branches), you will see flagging tape on your right that will lead you through a clearcut. Markers on stumps are visible from the road. The trail is well marked (thank you VOC!), taking you through forest and a boulder field before it opens into some sweet territory. The hike to the cabin is about 4kms and not a whole lot of elevation to contend with.

Thank you Matt and Gary M for a great weekend. I’m looking forward to going back!”

Mt Brew Hut, Feb 21-22

Meager Creek, 10 May 2014

Tu Loan at the Meager Creek hot springs:
“With no news regarding the road conditions, we were uncertain as to how far we could get on the FSR (road after Pemberton Meadows) before hitting snow. A 4wd[1] vehicle was necessary to get up a steep hill at the 23 km marker. Clearance wasn’t too much of an issue, as you just have to avoid the larger size rocks on the road. (Beware that they are building a new road, so make sure you take the steep road going up on the left. If you see big machinery, don’t take that road!). We made it all the way to around 27 km before we were met with some snow (750 m elevation). We parked the cars and the 6 of us headed off to the hot springs with great anticipation!

The 3-km trek to the trailhead was uneventful except for the putting on and taking off of snowshoes. We thought that we could do without them, but the snow was soft and we sunk quite deep…deeper for shorter legged people like me! We would encounter a patch of snow, then a long stretch of gravel, before coming upon a long stretch of snow again. We surmised that after a few weeks, one would be able to drive straight to the trailhead. We were at the trailhead in 45 minutes.

According to our fearless leader, the trek to the hot springs was a mere 10 km[2] (!), 6 km of which were to be in the forest and the last 4 on a logging road. What we didn’t realize was how rugged the terrain would be and how the soft snow would hinder our speed. Time was also lost with the taking off and putting on of snowshoes. Our poor snowshoes sure took a beating! With spring conditions, exposed logs and rocks/boulders could not be avoided. The most challenging part of the trek was post holing through the snow in the clear cut sections. We were post holing because we dropped our snowshoes by the small boulder section of the trail, thinking that we no longer needed them. Wrong idea! Poor Bryan found himself chest deep in snow at one point. The best part of the trail was the amazing trail markings by the VOC. Thank you to those who were part of this project. It is very hard to get lost as orange markers were frequently placed and easy to spot.

After 7 hours, we arrived at the hot springs, tired but elated! This was my first visit and a long time waiting[3]! Because of the landslide from 2010, these springs can no longer be accessed by car. The campground had an eerie feeling of abandonment. We were just excited to have the whole place to ourselves! The main pool was well maintained and Fred fiddled with the hot and cold water pipes. Someone thoughtfully left a pond net for us to scoop out the algae. We don’t know when it was last visited, but the pool was mostly clear of algae. Kit noticed that the pool was heart shaped! What better way to end the evening than with an après dinner soak in the hot springs? It was just what our sore and tired bodies needed! Candles were lit for ambiance, and we had a lovely evening of adventure story telling… because that’s what a bunch of Wanderungers talk about on trips!

The trek back was a bit quicker and we were back at the car in 6 hours, with plenty of rest breaks. Again, the clear cut sections proved to be most challenging. BOO for clear cut! The only other heads up is mosquitoes! They made their presence on the trail and at the campsite. I figure they will be in full force after a few weeks. I came home with 10 bites!

Thank you Fred T. for organizing this trip! If not for the snow, the trip would definitely have made the 5 hour timeline. I am hoping to go back in the fall and avoid the mosquitoes. By then, I hope the trail will be well-trodden!

[1] We took with us an Infiniti QX4 (Goldi, her first backcountry adventure) and a Subaru Legacy.
[2] In a straight line.
[3] Personally, 19 years! I know, I know, what was I waiting for?!”

Meager Creek, May 10-11

Rainbow Lake, 13 Apr 2014

Eugene Y. at Rainbow Lake:
“The winter trail to the Rainbow Lake is a scenic snowshoe route that gradually ascends through an old-growth forest to a sub-alpine country within the Whistler watershed.

Apparently, the route is somewhat underrated by snowshoers, as we haven’t met any other people on the trail besides a lone hiker coming back from Mount Sproatt. Thanks to the watershed regulation, the area is free from snowmobiles, although we did encounter a couple of vehicles passing by the lake.

Practically the whole trail is still covered by deep snow, except for the first 300 m where it gets a bit icy. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, except for a portion between the 2 km and 3 km marks.

Shortly before the 6 km mark, the trail enters an open area that offered a panoramic view to the surrounding peaks. The suspension bridge after the 6 km mark is removed for the winter, so that we had to cross the creek over a snow bridge about 100 m upstream. Finally, after a short but relatively steep ascent, we arrived to the picturesque Rainbow Lake area, which was still under several metres of snow.

Overall, we found this to be an excellent snowshoe route, on par with the one to the Elfin Lakes but more secluded and with a much easier access to the trailhead.”

Elfin Lakes, 23 Mar 2014

Eugene Y. at Elfin Lakes:
“The upper portion of the road (the last kilometre or so) was a bit icy in the morning, although it seemed to be passable for SUVs with winter tires. However it was just too slippery for our Nissan Sentra and Mazda Protege, so we had to use chains. This proved to be tricky, as one of the chains got loose and wrapped around the driving axle(?) on the way down. The parking lot was almost full when we got there around 11:45 am.

The trail was well packed, so some people just walked in their boots and didn’t use neither snowshoes nor microspikes.

It was partially cloudy – a perfect day for photographers, however the sunscreen and sunglasses were really essential.

We walked at a leisurely pace for about 2.5 hours, while enjoying the views and taking pictures. Ellie found a perfect spot for lunch about facing Mt. Garibaldi and Diamond Head. As people were getting tired and the lakes were still about 3 km away, we decided to cut the hike short. On the way back we had plenty of opportunities to socialize with fellow hikers from other clubs.

It was a really beautiful day to be on the trail. Thanks to everyone in the group for staying together as a team and contributing to the success of the trip. Special thanks to those of you who were helping with chains, it was such dirty work!”

At the high point, with Mamquam Mountain