Today we had a great hike in the snow but no views. With a polar vortex swooping in over BC, temperatures were forecast to ‘plummet’ along with some snowfall. Understand that Islanders think anything between 5˚C and -10˚C is frigid, so forecasted temperatures of -5 were frightening! But I still have some eastern blood in me (ask me in a couple of years) so I got excited and decided it was time to go Up Island to the Mt Washington area to do some snowshoeing. The mountains there are beautiful and the views stunning, as long as there is visibility. Today the views were forbidden!
Entertaining the thought of a winter hike made us dig up gear that we had not used since our winter hiking in the Adirondacks days: larger backpack, big down coats, gaiter, snowshoes etc. We knew that the temps would be between 0˚ and -7˚C but we erred on the side of caution, since it was a brand new area for us. So the car looked pretty full!
Our friends at Valhalla Sports (our replacement of MEC) recommended the Forbidden Plateau area because it’s less busy than Mt. Washington nordic area and there are no fees! The ‘gotcha’ is a steep climb up an abandoned ski hill! We were amazed that there was NO sign anywhere of a previous ski hill operation – no posts, buildings, garbage, towers. Nothing. Nada I did some research tonight and found out the hill closed about 20 years ago but the clean up was a cooperative effort between volunteers, contractors and government and was only completed a couple years ago. They did a fantastic job.
Without a lot of recent new snow, the trail was well-hardened and we didn’t wear the snowshoes, but we did carry them in case.
We had a map with us, but the trail was so well used that we did not really need a map either. Snow depths were around 8 feet as you can see with this ‘buried’ sign.
We appreciated the various shapes and patterns around trees and on slopes. There was no wind, temp was about -4˚ and it was so quiet and peaceful.
We had a great walk through the meadow after the climb. The trail leads to the summit of Mt. Becher at 1341 m but we did not go all the way up. There was a steep section still to come and since there were no views decided not to risk injury to knees etc. We will save it for another sunny day, either in the winter or in the summer.
So we enjoyed lunch in the woods, just like we used to to in the Adirondacks. Hot soup in the thermos, hot chocolate and keeping warm in our down coats!
We didn’t get the forecasted snow on the mountain but the clouds were low, creating flat light but also moody and peaceful scenes, even if the visibility was not that far.
So it felt great to hike out in the snow again. I missed the cobalt blue skies that always make me smile in the winter, but that can come on another day and another hike.
We added a stop on the way home at Nymph Falls. It’s a section of the Puntledge (great name!) River that spills over many different rock ledges, creating an extended section of falls and rapids. It was just 200 m from the parking lot and we always enjoy seeing waterfalls!