Mountain air, sweet sweet mountain air. How I could spend the weekend simply breathing up there.
Nine was the number that set up the mountain this day. Boots on the trail at 9:30, slip slop, the ground was moist. Rivulets weaved a course in and out of the trail, carving channels to the base of the mountain. The sound of water calms the chaos of the technologically suffocated soul… The rain cleared the path for us, only a few hardy mountain bikers, and northvan locals were present with us on the mountain. The solitude and space the rain provides in the mountains supersedes the discomfort and dampness that comes with it. There is a different face to the forest seen during and after the rains. A vibrancy, not seen
when the summer hordes trample through. You can feel it in the leaves, smell it in the air, hear it in the silence. Life.
I was asked how many creeks we would cross on the way up. I said zero. That was a lie. Semantically I was correct. However there proved to be 22 or so rivulets we would cross through. As per usual on a Fromme hike, the summit always feels closer than it is. Past the Grouse Mountain Highway crossings, ascending up the trail, the summit feels at your fingertips. Yet it is always just a little further than that, until you stumble upon it, nearly haphazardly. A rocky outcropping furnished with a pond. There was no view this day. I didn’t mind I knew there wouldn’t be anything. The silhouettes of trees against a backdrop of fog and cloud is just as much of treat to me as sweeping views across the valley with the heads of peaks jutting out, prominent, calling my name.
The impetus for the trip was to test out a 20 year old stove my dad gave to me. I didn’t bring it. Two other members did bring their stoves, Melissa Bernstein, and Kaylie Robinson made a coffee and instant noodle. I had let them down by leaving mine at home. I anticipated my group would not have wanted to wait 30 or so minutes at the summit to faff with a stove. I was
half right. After 10-15 minutes the cold was getting to some of the crew and they were rearing to go. Coffee still needed to be drunk. With my belay parka and insulated gloves I could have stayed up there for the rest of the day. For sure its bulky, but I just love the warmth for those cool down periods. On the way
down we took a few more photos and meandered at a slower pace taking in the forest scenes. Auburn leaves dotted the forest floor, sprawling branches loomed above us in the canopy. Truly beautiful. After 11 a few more hikers and mountain bikers were on the trail to take advantage of the weather window. Back at the trailhead our group split in two, one car to go back home immediately, another for treats. Kaylie and my car went to grab a coffee at a local shop. With all the talk of cinnamon buns on the Bowen island trip the previous day, I suggested we go to Grounds for a bun. It was most definitely a year plus since my last bun, boy did I delight in its gooey sweetness. Supposedly 600 calories, just what I need post hike. Post Grounds around 5 we went to Spanish Banks and took Kaylie’s dog Buddy out for exercise, poor buddy lost the ball in the ocean after being distracted by another dog’s stick. Damp and tired, we were all ready for a hot shower and warm meal. I’m more ready for another trip.
Lessons leading my first VOC trip:
1:Getting out emails to everyone and organizing rides takes more effort than you think.
2: You will always be more behind schedule than you think you will be…
3: Once on trail its actually not that hard, you can lead the charge or sit at the back of the group. No biggie. The logistics is the actual work.
The more I hike in softshell and water resistant insulation pieces, the less I find a need to don my hardshell. The air permeability of the softshell demolishes the breathability of the hardshell membranes. Of course I still bring my hardshell for SHTF; however while actively hiking unless pouring, the humble softshell, proved itself once again as a superior tool for the task at hand.
Pocket:, I like pockets. I wish manufacturers stopped trying to go the ultralight route and would place more pockets. Particularly napoleon styled pockets at the chest where pack straps don’t interfere with them. Handwarmer pockets prove useless while wearing a pack hipbelt.
Gloves: I took the lesson learned on Seymour last weekend and brought gloves this weekend. Insulated waterproof gloves. Boy were they nice to have. I find that I’ll be bringing them on all hikes past September. They are certainly overkill but they will warm your hands up fast and get you back into ship shape quick.
Socks: good call johnny bringing extra post hike socks, but it would have been a better call to bring post hike change of shoes too. (editing note from Kaylie: this is where crocs in the car come in very handy)