Ark: a new Brew Trail during the Flood

This trip was so miserable there aren’t any photos. Well, maybe someone took a photo or two, but I’m pretty sure they’re no good because there would have been water on the lens, and if not—well, with all the clouds there wasn’t anything to take pictures of anyway.

On Friday I was reading CBC, which said, “This weekend it will feel like we are at the end of a fire hose aimed directly at the South Coast”. This was the weekend Ross chose to coerce a few old farts and a few new farts into clearing alder on a prospective new winter trail to Brew, which follows about 4.5 km of a very overgrown road from near the Brandywine Meadows 2wd parking lot to the hut. The old trail is basically inaccessible now that the Roe Creek bridge is gone, so desperate measures were called for.

We had a flat tire as soon as we arrived in Squamish. A cop told me that the right rear tire was low, and in fact it had a screw in it. With a refill of air from the gas station we limped to Canadian Tire. I had a strong sense of deja vu as I talked to Canadian Tire, OK Tire, and CalTire trying to book an immediate tire repair, and they were all booked up for most of the week. For a crazy moment, I flirted with disaster and thought of crawling back to unlucky car garage from the Elaho summer ski trip—but then sense prevailed. We put on the spare, gambled we’d get no more flats, and drove to the trailhead.

It was pouring rain. Pouring. At the trailhead, Tristan, Bella, Anya, and I geared up unhappily. I put on my 4 mm / 3 mm wetsuit. The “trail”, a messy gash a few meters wide along the roadbed, was a river. The trickles we had walked through in June, during the first workhike, were now more than knee deep. Eventually we caught up to the workhikers, who were taking a break under a tarp.

Broken chainsaws are a the soul of VOC workhikes–90% of the time they are wet, abused, inanimate heaps of metal, and 10% of the time they reluctantly earn their keep. We had the new VOC gas chainsaw on this trip, and Peter and Krista brought their excellent electric chainsaw. Progress happens during the 10%, not the 90%, so once the electric chainsaw’s batteries were exhausted (1 hr each, 2 batteries), we spent a lot of time lopping and hand-sawing and feeling that it was all a bit futile. Meanwhile, everyone was soaked to the bone. Most people we had thought would come on the trip wisely hadn’t, most of the daytrippers left a little early, but the overnighters stayed on until the bitter end.

Back at the cars, the overnighters (Ross, Tom, Cassandra, Peter, Krista, Grace, Anya, Tristan, President Haley, and myself) fumbled with wet ropes in the dark and the moonsoon as we attached a big tarp to a car and the little shed at the Brandywine 2wd parking lot. Better yet, we managed to squeeze through the locked shed doors and change into dry layers out of the weather. Then we cooked and tested out the updated VOC songbook (Carrot Juice is Murder?) with help from Tom’s guitar and a sip of Peter’s whiskey.

On Sunday morning there was much chainsaw whispering. Eventually, we made it back up the trail and attacked the alder with two working chainsaws (Joe drove up with recharged batteries for the electric chainsaw). Alder was flattened at an alarming rate. People who hadn’t used chainsaws were taught about chainsaws. It was raining, but not very convincingly, and though we weren’t dry it wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as Saturday. In the end, we cleared about 1/3rd of the road, leaving about 1/3rd for next time. There’s some debate about how safe this new trail will be (there are avalanche paths) and how wide the trail will need to be cleared (the alder are MASSIVE, and may block the trail when weighed down by snow), but the route was used to access Brew in the distant past so it should be possible.

At home, legs were sore, eyelids were heavy, and every surface of my apartment was covered with stinking muddy dripping gear.

Dates: October 16-17, 2021
People: Ross Campbell, Cassandra Elphinstone, Tom Curran, Haley Foldare, Krista & Peter Forysinski, Grace, Tristan Russell, Anya Boardman, Vincent Hanlon, Bella Han, Joe O’Brien, Alex Annejohn, David Liou, Mirko Moeller, Lianne McRadu, Jacob Aragones, Andrew Wilson, Kylie Schatz, at least one other person who’s name I didn’t catch and probably more.

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5 Responses to Ark: a new Brew Trail during the Flood

  1. Melissa Bernstein says:

    Thanks to all that helped out on the workhike!! Your contributions are appreciated :)

  2. Roland Burton says:

    Thanks for the trip report. I think we need a picture of you in the wet suit. Did you wear flippers?

    As we don’t seem willing to do Brew via Roe, and Brew via Brandywine seems to be a lot less fun than it was 20 years ago, I’d like to try Brew via Brew Main. Cassandra and company did it half a year ago and they survived, and I still have their GPS track. Anybody want to give it a go, before the snow makes it hard? I have a Jeep. Most of the good weather happens mid-week.

  3. Elliott Skierszkan says:

    Great effort brave folks! Should have brought the snorkels!

  4. Alex Wharton says:

    Wow! Thanks for all your hard work in the rain!!

  5. Shane Duan says:

    No photo of the wetsuit tough mudder?!?

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