Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cathedral Mountain

We had been watching the weather closely as the weekend approached. Our goal was to bag Cathedral Mountain (5,698 feet). However, we needed a good weather day to accomplish this outing. The weather reports were consistent with rain approaching late afternoon evening. Saturday was the ideal weather day but we had a family party to attend and Wendy could only join us on Sunday. A decision was made to go for it on Sunday with a very early start! Wendy sent a text Saturday night - she was still on Vancouver Island so she was out. That left the 3 of us for the journey.
4:20 AM (early start!) we parked the truck at the End of the Line in Lynn Headwaters. Helen and Sam (dog) waved Neil, Dave and I off. We had a 10km bike ride into the start of the Paton trail. The climb up the Paton trail was quite magical in the dark with our headlamps on. The air temperature was really warm and humid - at 5:00 AM it felt like Hawaii!  As we found out later in the day, conditions that make one susceptible to dehydration and cramping!
Daylight was now with us at the top of the Paton trail. The sunrise was a beautiful red sky - red sky in the morning baggers take warning!  We were fortunate that Dave had been to Cathedral three times before.  His Cathedral trail knowledge was indispensable so Thanks Dave!  
Heading up the rock of Coliseum Mountain.
Between Coliseum and Burwell Mountain we found a Helium Birthday Balloon - they really do get to high places.
The rock is magnificent and such a nice terrain to travel over.
Coming down the back of Burwell, that's where we are heading.
The back of Burwell Mtn, we traversed down these massive rock ledges.
After a lot of bush whacking on the col, the trail heads up a few false summits.
An amazing view from the top of Cathedral Mtn. Looking west across to the Grouse range and beyond to the Pacific Ocean.  At this moment the thunder in the skies started to roar. We made a very hasty retreat down.
Amazing moss carpet!
After making our way down through the boulders and the vegetation we stopped to reflect where we  had just been. The skies were still full of thunder, it was very warm and humid. We were running short of fluid so had to stop at a mountain tarn to refill our water. We treated the water with chlorine tablets but unfortunately we forgot the UV light. Dave and Neil kindly gave me any city water they had left and they filled up from the tarn - I'm overly cautious having once had Giardia!
The clouds were rolling in down below.
Back to Burwell...we felt like we had made it. However, we had at least 3 hours down.
The clouds were rolling in down below, we were descending and about to meet the weather below. We met the rain and mist half way down the trail. It was so misty that we put our head lamps on. It was a warm rain so we didn't feel cold.
Once off the trail we recovered our bikes that we had stashed in the woods 13 hours previously. We were keen to get on the bikes and get riding the 10km back to the truck. Dave had locked our bikes together with his bike lock....but he could not get the key to unlock the bikes. Nothing like a bit of adversity to face at the end of a long day! Without being able to unlock the bikes we would be running the 10 km back to the truck. Darkness was setting in and the rain was becoming quite heavy. We all had a turn at trying the bike lock with no success. Just as I was saying we had to make a decision and leave the bikes and make our way out by foot, the key unlocked the bike lock...we all did a happy dance and jumped on the bikes to head back to the truck. By this time, it was pitch black and raining hard. Biking was tough going as the rain drove straight into our eyes. We stuck together and at one point stopped to regroup when the Seymour Park warden came up behind us with his big truck and flashing lights which we thought we were being pulled over. Normally there are no vehicles on this road.
 However, we made it and only 15 mins behind the ETA!  Helen was there to meet us where she had dropped us off 15.5 hours earlier. It was a quick load up of the bikes and into the vehicles to warm up.  A great journey but a long day trip! Almost 16 hours - start early, take head lamps. This was also the final peak for Neil in the Bagger Challenge. Congratulations Neil on completing all 59 peaks in the Challenge!! Only one more for Dave and myself which we hope to bag soon - weather permitting of course.


  1. A great team effort! Congratulations to all: Toughest Girl I Know, Trail Demigod Dave, and Dr. Vet the Dodgy Bagger. You are all stars!

  2. We missed you out there! We saw many of the little cairns you built to guide the way. I was a bit stiff in the yoga class tonight ;-)

  3. Congratulations to you guys! I know exactly the feeling of reaching the finish line doing some bike marathon.

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