Monday, August 8, 2011


Happy Hikers
My sister and her husband Pete share in an Alpine chalet in the Alpine Village on the top of Mount Washington on Vancouver Island. They rent it out to people from all over the world who come to BC for ski vacations, but it is rarely rented during the warmer months, so when we come to visit her in the summer it is usually available for our use. She has always told us about the amount of snow the village receives in the winter, but of course we only see it in the summer.

This year was an exceptional year for snow, we were told, and the chalet next door was heavily damaged by the weight of the snow, and there was even a patch of snow on the road leading into the chalet. I was not expecting the amount still in the woods however.

After the excitement of the wedding, and the cleanup afterwards, Linda had a nice hike planned the next day. There is a very nicely maintained provincial park just down the road from the village, and on another visit, we had explored some of the extensive trail system in the park, so we knew what to expect. . . . .

Not at all. . . We had no sooner gotten into the mountain forests, and we ran into snow - lots of snow. There were places where the trails were still under six to eight feet of snow, and some places there was so much snow that you had to be careful not to loose the trail completely. You had to look for ends of the boardwalks, or clear sections of the trails. Other hikers often had strayed off the established trails so you could not always depend on following the footprints.

The snow of course was old, often dirty, and rapidly melting in the lovely August summer heat; there was just so much deposited over the winter that it would be a while before all the ground was exposed.

The melting snow also made for a much more challenging hike. It was wet and slippery, and the run-off from the melting snow had often carved out large caves under the snow that threatened to collapse if walked over. You could see footprint shaped holes where other hikers had fallen through.
A Snow Cave

The unexpected snow made the hike more interesting and certainly more challenging. The nine km distance seemed longer with the care that had to be taken navigating over the snow. My hiking stick (a new piece of hickory picked up in Branson Missouri) proved to be an essential tool to keep from slipping and sliding off the deep piles of snow, and my knees were complaining by the end of the hike.

Six feet of snow still in August . . . One more interesting adventure on our trip.

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