The trip was originally going to be trail maintenance near Harrison hut but due to complications we switched to Brew. I’ve never been to Harrison and was looking forward to being with acquainted with a new hut, but visiting old friend Brew whom I met last year on a previous trip still got me excited.
Started with a wake up at 5:30 and passenger pickup at 6:30. I meant to pick them up at 6:15 but the price of gas at my local station was too good to pass up.
The smoke was thick and dank, you could not see across the burrard inlet from kits. On the highway you could barely see anvil island and scarcely see mighty Tantalus.
We met up with Vincent Hanlon at the beginning of the Chance Creek FSR, it was my first time driving up and I didn’t want to make a wrong turn and miss the group. My Rav4, Brutus, fared very well on the FSR, one uphill section gave us trouble, but with more speed and momentum on the second attempt we were golden. The same couldn’t be said for the mini that had to pullover ahead of us to be picked up by their friends. We parked before the R200 turn off and the waterbars. On second thought having seen those water bars I think my 2wd rav would have been capable enough to tackle those obstacles. We opted to walk those km’s and play it safe.
Cassandra and Tom’s vehicle came up quickly after us with the chainsaw and other forestry tools.
The hike up was filled with blueberry and black huckleberry picking. We made pretty good time. I reminisced about my trip the previous year to Brew where we picked tons of blueberries to put into pancakes.
A non VOC group ahead of us stopped at the lake to swim around in doughnut floaties and paddleboarded around. Might have to do that another time…
Arriving at the hut before the chainsaw crew, we set up tents around the area near the hut. There ended up being quite a few other parties up concurrently. My tent site had a fresh fire ring set up with ash quite hot to the touch, evidence that our firewood is wasted wantonly. It did not look like they poured water or anything to quench the fire out. Dubious fire safety practices.
Once we heard the chainsaw going we brought down our packs and began the haul. On this trip Cassandra and Tom graciously taught me how to use the chainsaw, familiar with other power tool implements I took to it very quickly cutting up a few moist rounds to be carried up. The Chainsaw was finicky and troublesome, at first, but with some tweaking we got it going. We did not forget either the gas or the chain lube! It drew a lot of attention from non Voc’ers in the area. The wood was so moist and partly rot it made even the smaller pieces a burden to carry up. The haulers worked so hard one of the frame packs broke. We really ought to post photos of haulers in the hut to show just how laborious this is.
Dinner was around 6 for me. Pasta and meat sauce was my dinner for the evening, accompanied with some Bolete harvested by Ross Campbell and Vincent. Ahh the creamy salty umami flavour of the mushroom. It got me excited for ironchef Brew. But alas it is likely the least covid friendly of the annual trips. Cassandra and Tom didn’t show up till after sunset, I thought they wouldn’t even coming up for dinner and would just sleep beside the chainsaw only to start bright and early the next morning (haha).
Toasting the night with a bit of Alberta pure premium provided by my car mate Rowan, we sang some Stan Rogers. The stars were slightly visible from our position with the smoke obfuscating them.
Night was colder than I thought it would be; with the wind blowing for much of the night, it brought the deep smoke from the south. I wore all my layers in my 0 degree bag. I awoke at 6:00 hoping for a sunrise where the sky was red and orange with a tinge of smoke wreathing around the mountains and playing in the valley below.
Peering out the tent
Miasma of smoke
I went back to sleep
Breakfast was my last three maple oatmeal packets. I need to buy more. No coffee, No tea. My throat was dry from all the smoke. My hand started swelling quite badly from a bug bite I got the day before. It looked as if it was one of those latex gloves filled with water. It still is a little swollen as I write… Yet wood needed to be hauled up. Vincent and I made the first trip down to pick up the remaining pieces from the first tree site. The others soon joined us and started on dead tree site 2. Due to my work scheduling me for a Sunday evening shift, I needed to pack up my camp quickly after that trip back up. My car group and I left the hut at 11:35, and got to the trail head at 1:50ish. I dilly dallied a bit as I stopped at a plethora of berry bushes to acquire the tastiest of morsels. I did not want my gluttony to go unchecked and left a few tasties for the crew who would be descending down later…
We were cruising quite quickly back down the FSR in my Rav, a pickup truck actually pulled over to let me pass him. This shocked me as this was my first time ever driving down a FSR. I must have picked up Birgit’s style of driving gravel roads, just whip down em, Tokyo drift style.
Drive back was uneventful, no stops. Lion’s gate sucked, as per usual. Got to kits around 4:15 and dropped off my passengers. My work was packed with guests and they asked me to start early. Despite the smell of backcountry hard work still on me and thick dirt caked onto my boots and pant legs, I donned my earpiece and nametag and got out there with a smile plastered on my weary face.
Excited to do more work hikes. Sad I missed out on one a week earlier to Burton. If it involves reno’s or constructing, you know I am in…