My sister Phyllis and her man Rod flew in from Medicine Hat. Their departure from Medicine Hat was delayed because the aircraft fuel truck driver locked his keys in the cab, so they couldn’t move the fuel truck, which was blocking the plane. Eventually they moved the plane. Josi had flown into YVR from Germany a couple of days previous, and Eagle Bluff was on her to-do list, so we had to do it. I wanted to take my GPS because it was lonely in the basement, but in the end I forgot it. Carla claimed to know the way, having done it a few times. She assured us that we wouldn’t need snowshoes or skis because the trail will be well packed down. We issued Phyllis and Rod with our “loaner” boots. At the last minute Josi’s friend Doug bailed, citing an old hockey injury.
We arrived at the Cypress ski area around 9:00 and found various signs saying things like “pay parking”, but we cunningly avoided paying for parking, as did most of the skiers up there. It had rained on us a bit on the drive up, but here it was just foggy and cloudy. We trudged up to the lift area and I got in the ticket purchase lineup where a very nice lady with an interesting accent informed me that we had to go back to where we had parked to get our free back-country trail passes. So we did that.
The trail goes up Black Mountain and is pretty steep. It was also very icy. Crampons would not have been unreasonable. Eventually after several rests we arrived at some signs saying something about “loop”. Now you don’t want signs that say “loop” because they are for people who don’t have any particular objective; they just want some exercise. Carla told us “this way”, and soon we found ourselves atop Black Mountain, apparently, though the visibility was still opaque. In the distance we could hear shouting and loud scraping noises coming from skiers and such who had bought lift passes. We decided that “elevenses” time had arrived; that’s the lunch you have at 11:00. A very large raven dropped in and spent a long time trying to persuade us to feed it.
Eventually we got going again, following the extremely well marked trail, but this time going down, which was a new experience for us on the icy trail. I soon found that walking beside the trail was the key to survival. I was distressed that we were going down because I sensed that it would be uphill on the way back, but Carla said “that’s OK”. We trudged along for rather a long time, about an hour, and I was just saying to myself “no view, boring ups and downs, we should turn back”, when we passed a sign saying “loop”, and we realized we were back where we had been an hour ago. The crew decided that we were defeated and there was nothing left to do but go home.
The trail down to the car was not without incident. Carla fell on an icy bit and did what I thought was a fairly graceful bum slide, but it turned out that she had damaged her knee a bit. Rod crashed into one of the trail markers, but was OK. I went hip-deep into a tree well, but that’s pretty well routine.
Back at the cafeteria, Carla needed coffee for the drive home but Phyllis accidentally dumped most of it in Josi’s lap. We reviewed the trip, and Doug got full marks for bailing, which was obviously the thing to do. We saw no eagles, though there were some pretty graceful birds flying over the parking lot. As we left the parking,, the weather started to clear a bit, and when we got home we checked on the map where we had been and where we wanted to be.
Conclusion: Black Mountain is evil. Don’t go there.