Sunday, December 2nd 2016, twenty-five eager beavers from the VOC woke up dark and early to snowshoe to the Red Heather hut in Garibaldi Park. Drivers got their passengers picked up in the windy darkness and zipped up the Sea to Sky. Around 7:15, we had a quick rendezvous at the first Timmies in Squamish, where we went over all the important details, like how to get your parents car up an icy logging road without chains. We formed a convoy of our six vehicles and headed out towards the Elfin Lakes trail. We made it up to the first parking lot and then walked up to the trailhead, which would lead us up to the Red Heather hut. After figuring out which snowshoe goes on which foot, we clacked our way to the real snow where the real fun began. Seriously, twenty-five pairs of snowshoes walking on icy gravel is pretty loud.
The trail was nicely maintained, which made for some relaxed snowshoeing. Snow shrouded trees framed the first few kilometres of the hike up, and some scenic lookout points along the way provided a good preview of the stunning views that were to be had above the main treeline. Along the way, we encountered whiskey jacks and quickly discovered that you could lure them onto your palm with anything from bread chunks, to raw animal magnetism, to bits of tissue paper (I tried all three). I’m not sure if the epic photos that resulted quite outweigh the violation of the leave-no-trace principles, but humans have done worse by nature.
Before we knew it, our group was at the Red Heather hut, warming up around the stove, and feasting away off the smorgasbord of potluck snacks. The spread was delicious, including everything from cookies to bread, to sweet, sweet pickles. With our bellies full, and our bodies warmed up, we headed put our snowshoes back on divided up into groups based on how adventurous we were feeling. Yours truly chose to be in the chill group, so I can only speak to our modest accomplishments, which included: snowshoeing, making killer snow angels, watching people backcountry ski, chilling in the snow, joking/chatting, and taking sick pics. The sun shone bright and the chill mountain air was still. After regrouping with everyone at the hut at 2:30, we headed back down to the parking lot, arriving comfortably before dark, just as planned.
With the main block of fun behind us, some people headed straight back to the city, while those with more time and stomach space to spare went to find a place to eat. Given the egregious wait time at the Mag’s 99, we followed a lead from Zack to try out the Howe Sound Brewhouse. With so many Squamishites decked out in camo and flannel, the dining area looked simultaneously empty and full. With two groups ahead of us on the restaurant waitlist, it didn’t look good. At the last possible second, as one car group was about to bail, a table opened up. After indulging in some wicked pizzas, burgers, and brews (for those who weren’t driving) and more lively conversation, we parted ways to head back down the Sea to Sky. Speaking as someone whose deepest fear is getting stuck in traffic on Taylor Way and Marine, it was reassuring to not hit traffic on the returning drive.
Everyone made it back in one piece (to my knowledge), with plenty of memories, new connections, and awesome pics to throw all over social media (guilty as charged). All in all, probably more type 1 than type 2 fun, but, with classes finished and final exams upon us, that was okay. Speaking as someone who hadn’t snowshoed before, it was an amazing introduction!
Thanks to everyone who came on the trip, and a big shout out to Zack for taking care of a good chunk of the initial organizing and setting the good vibes. Also, big ups to the other organizers of the trip, Joe, Matt, and Ainsley, who did a stellar job making sure everyone knew what they were doing, were staying safe, and were having a good time!