Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bagger Challenge - Hats off to HAT!

A beautiful view of Howe Sound from the top! Heading up in the snow! At the top of HAT in our HATS! Making our way down in the dark! Friday night it was a bit of a scramble to figure out what peak (peaks) we were going to try for this weekend. Neil had been away in Alberta for the week so it was a bit of a last minute plan. We departed Maple Ridge with the intent of climbing Brunswick, Harvey and Hat. We had a quick stop at Starbucks for a coffee to go and headed for Lions Bay. The directions in the 103 Hikes book to the trail head were unfortunately before the construction on the highway to Whistler (for the upcoming Olympics!) Good thing they have put a few U-turn routes in so we could double back to find the exit. We were just parking the car at the trail head when Ean Jackson called and said...come join us, we are a few minutes up the road at Porteau Cove heading in the same direction but just a different route. We decided to join them and caught up with them shortly after we set off. Ean, Sybille and their children Eric and Johanna and Wendy Montgomery were going to stay the night at the shelter at the end of Brunswick Lake. Ah...this would be a great place for climbing some peaks Saturday and Sunday. They were all packing heavy packs so the climb to the shelter was at an easy pace for Neil and I (we were travelling light). After some considerable climbing we found ourselves in a bit of snow. We had heard some local mountains received snow this past week but Neil had checked with the CBC and hmm...we thought we would be OK. Once we made it to the shelter where the others were planning to stay the night it was obvious that we would not be doing too many peaks today. I felt a bit chilled and my feet and hands were cold from getting wet over a few creek crossings. Out came my jacket but that's all I have for extra warmth. Ean and family arrive at the shelter and Ean, Eric, Neil, Wendy and myself make the decision to carry on up to climb HAT. Within a few minutes we were in snow shin deep. Should have worn the full leg tights! My feet and hands were frozen as we climbed - comments from the others indicated we were all feeling the same numbness. My mind starts to think very practical at this moment. It is after 3pm as we start climbing. Neil and I have no over night gear, limited food and water and no head lamps to get us back to our car in the dark. The snow is getting deeper as we reach a peak. We see a cairn and make a wise decision to not carry on to the higher peak due to very cold temps and the snow. Interesting moment...Ean was at this exact spot 1 week ago and he could not find the trail in the snow. Common sense prevailed and we took the HAT photos and retraced our foot prints out. Some went down quite quickly but Wendy and I found ourselves slipping and sliding and personally I just went down on my butt for several steep down hill sections. It was lethal up there...I was so pleased to reach the shelter and we were greeted with chicken noodle soup that Sybille had cooked up on the camp stove. It was just what we needed to warm us up and provide us with a bit of salt. Neil and I were now starting to feel a bit nervous about our return trip to the car. Would we get out by dark? We had no lights and no warm clothing. Wendy was the hero of the day and gave us spare lights she had packed and a very tasty turkey sandwich! Once we headed off from the shelter at 4:50pm we were able to run for a great deal of the trail. It started to get really dark in the woods when we came across quite a rough downhill section on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I was a bit slow through this section but picked it up once we hit the gravel road a few km's from the finish. Back to the car just after 7PM. I call Marilyn and Ron who we are meeting for dinner in Port Moody to apologize for our tardiness (I said we would be down before dark!)They were starting to become concerned about not hearing from us and were wondering about next steps. Many lessons learned today!! 1. Always carry a headlamp 2.Carry some warm clothes when going so high. 3. Tell someone of your route! (although we changed the plan at the last minute!) - Just be prepared! A big thank-you to Ean for making the decision to turn around! Thank-you to Sybille for the chicken noodle soup and to Wendy for the headlamps and the turkey sandwich! Thanks to Marilyn and Ron for being so patient with us for arriving late for our dinner plans. We showered up at Marilyn and Ron's and went our for dinner at a new restaurant in Newport village - great food = great company - home in bed by 1pm! Oh this Bagger Challenge...lots of stories to tell!

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