*All credit for the title goes to trip organizer, Will.
The plan for thanksgiving weekend was looking great: hiking up to Semaphore Lake, base-camping there and going scrambling on the mountains around. And of course swimming in the lake! As we got closer to the weekend, the weather forecast was suggesting a possibility of snow, so hauling skis up the short 2,5 km, 500 m of elevation, was added to the plan. Just in case there would be enough snow to get a few turns in.
So what actually happened? Well, 3 out of 6 brave scramblers/swimmers decided to hope for snow and bring skis, which resulted in some great laughs when putting on heavy packs and hiking up the trail catching branches and decorating the pack further.
As we hiked up towards Semaphore lake, the slight snowy rain kept on going, but we were all in a good mood, excited to see what awaited us at the lake. After 2 hours of hiking through the forest, we got to the lake – that was more or less frozen. We got camp set up and decided to scout out the hike towards Locomotive. We didn’t get many views (or miles) in as the snowy rain had advanced to rainy snow, but returned to camp to cook dinner.
By this point, we were fairly wet and getting cold, so a warm dinner was very appealing. The snow, not knowing whether it wanted to be rain or snow, kept going making it very hard to use a lighter. We tried out all packed lighters without luck and even the firesteel-frozen fingers combo made it hard to get the stoves going. Eventually dinner was served, but we were all a little too cold to enjoy it sitting down. Luckily Thomas had brought a speaker and played some great tunes for dinner-dancing. A post-dinner/pre-tent shot of Jägermeister got us ready for a little hill running before snuggling into our sleeping bags.
I was feeling warm and cozy and enjoying the thought of a looong night’s sleep. And indeed it was a great sleep until at 2am, I woke up by a crash of the tent collapsing onto my face under the weight of the continuous snowfall. My tentmate, Kaila, and I managed to get the tent set up again and woke up to a beautiful morning with the first views of the mountains around us and only some clouds in the sky. Cooking breakfast was a lot easier than dinner the night before, and the dancing while dining was pleasant.
The hiking people set off, breaking trail through the new powder and enjoying the sunshine. Soon after, the skiers overtook us, enjoying the first touring of the season. Mount Locomotive was looking down at us and we decided that a pace of 3km in 3 hours was a little too slow to get even near. We enjoyed the view, had a “summit” beer with our lunch and hiked around the lakes on our way back to camp.
The skiers got some nice turns in and barely hit any rocks. They skinned up a handful of times to get the most out of bootpacking the skis to the lake. All happy faces when we met back at camp.
Sunday night was quite cold, and dipping in the lake not very appealing, but the reward when getting out of the tent monday morning was worth it. Completely clear sky and sunrise on the ridgeline:
Hiking back to the trailhead was easy as some dayhikers had broken the trail for us on Sunday and we returned to the cars in great spirits (and slightly cold toes).
So what did we learn? Well, Mount Locomotive is probably more welcoming and scramble-able in September, skiing in October is possible without hitting rocks and most importantly: dance to keep your toes warm!
Thanks to Will, Fiona, Kaila, Alex and Thomas for great company