On Saturday, March 22, the VOC crew departed for Phelix Hut from Vancouver for a skiing overnight hut trip.
The group departed Vancouver and went on the highway around 8 am. As the car heads north and approaches Pemberton area, the sky started to clear up from rainy conditions all the way from Vancouver till the coffee break at Squamish. As we arrived at the parking lot it was fair weather sunny sky– a great escape to “somewhere nice”!
The group started skinning after parking at 12:15 pm. The first part was gentle uphill slopes which traverse and meander in the mountains. After the first switchbacks as we approached the logging roads with shallow, low lying plant branch covers around the trail the slope became more mellow with up and downs as well as minor dips. The plants were rather well spaced that left out a good amount of space for the trail. The snow cover also became less icy but softer with gradual elevation gains. The group took a lunch break at a viewing point which we were more exposed to the scenery of the surrounding mountains.
Throughout the trails we were able to hear bird calls as well as the creeks underneath the snow cover. These early spring signals add to the dynamics of the icy and snow mountain environments. This also means that the snow might be thin at times and I water body below the snow ended up being exposed on the hiking trail, which reminds us to be cautious of the unstable grounds near flowing water. We soon entered the trailed named “Pacific Creek Trail” that led us to the lake in front of Phelix Hut. The forest covered trails are steeper with switchback terrains and some parts made skinning up more challenging as skis glide downward. The forest canopy was denser and trails are less spacious. Techniques like kick-turns and side steps came handy in such terrains. This part took the majority of the time to complete and around time of the sunset we made it to the open lake area around 7:00 pm and unloaded at the hut.
The hut has a large capacity and had about 3-4 groups including us. So I was told to mention some interesting phenomenon that took place when people were cooking—it seems like curry was a popular choice among our group that the intense scent of both Thai curry and Indian curry spices spread around the hut space which later resulted in continuous coughing sounds in the hut. But the dishes themselves were great!
The next day we decided to skin up to the local Cabin Hill. Considering the steepness of the slopes, we were traversing and gradually making it to the top. The snow cover was thick and powdery which made skiing down very fun. As we approached the top, the excitement also built up as I saw the limitless end to the sky with no other mountain barriers. At the top, the far mountain ranges are exposed and it was such a fascinating perspective.
Around 12:30 at noon, after a lunch break in the hut after skiing down the hill we were ready to depart. The first part downhill was in dense forest layer and decent skiing skills were required to deal with the narrow paths and sharp turns. In the forests, we heard a loud noise from a distant mountain, it was an avalanche. From far away, we could still see the big mass of snow rolling down with powder being splashed. It was a quite breathe-taking event! But we were told that there was a low possibility for avalanche hazard on our trail.
After about 6 hours we made it back to the parking lot at the end of the trail. It was still daylight around 7 pm– sweet long summer days to come! We started heading back to Vancouver and that was the end for the fun trip with spectacular weather and view. Thanks for an amazing trip everyone and looking forward to more sun!