I first learned about Mt. Gardner a couple weeks ago, when I signed up for Lucy and Joe’s trip. Unfortunately a rainfall warning and subsequent chaos killed that idea, so we had lovely walk in Pacific Spirit Park instead. I was still curious to check out Gardner though, so I thought I’d head up this Saturday and see if any VOC company felt like joining. Come Thursday we have a nice list of signups and, lo and behold, another rainfall warning… I’m pretty sure the VOC could have ended the drought last summer by organizing a Mt. Gardner trip. I didn’t want to cancel a second time, so I switched things to Sunday at the last minute in an attempt to avoid the worst of the downpour. Luckily Hirdesh, Isabella, and Vivian were still able to join me.
We were originally planning to meet at Horseshoe Bay and catch the 9:05 ferry. Various bus shenanigans delayed several people (I was too optimistic in thinking that Translink would be running on time, even at 7am Sunday morning) so we ended up making the 10:15. Other than the delay the ride over was pleasantly uneventful – got some nice foggy pictures of the islands, and even saw some dolphins breaching next to the boat (too fast for photos, sadly). 20 minutes later we got off the boat and started heading up the road to the trailhead. We quickly realized it was exactly as rainy as we had been warned of, but everyone was still fresh and full of energy at this point, so we decided why not take the longer loop past Grafton Lake up to the summit. I was slightly concerned about several creek crossings I recalled seeing on the GPS, but a quick look at Alltrails comments indicated they were still easily passable after the last rainstorm. Why should this one be any different, right?
So we make the turnoff for the trailhead, and it quickly becomes apparent that the trail itself has become a small creek. No big deal, we expected this given the conditions – we stick to the edges and have a nice, relaxing, wet walk past the lake. Eventually we come to the first creek crossing, and we realize we may be getting slightly more than we bargained for… the “easy ankle-deep crossing” described on AT is now around a metre deep and moving quickly. Undeterred, we bushwhacked along slightly to find a suitably narrow spot, got everyone across, and made our way back down to the trail. We then continued happily along until reaching the second creek crossing. Here it became clear that my faith in Alltrails was misplaced: the “creek” was a deep rushing stream several metres wide, with no helpful branches in sight. It seems that the terrain never really got a chance to dry out after the first rainstorm, so Saturday’s compounded things beyond last week’s conditions.
After much deliberation and many fruitless attempts at finding detours, we decided none of us were in the mood for a knee-level stream crossing, and decided to turn around. After making our way back to the road we had a brief burst of inspiration (no doubt helped by the fact that it had actually stopped raining) and set off again to reach the summit from the normal trailhead after all – by about the halfway mark, however, everyone was sufficiently wet and tired that a snack at the Bowen Island Pub sounded much more appealing than a summit. We turned around, hung out in the village for a bit, and had a very relaxing ferry ride back home.
- On transit trips, get everyone together *before* getting on the bus/train
- Don’t rely on Alltrails during atmospheric rivers
- Despite some tricky conditions I still had a good workout, great company, and very much enjoyed leading my first VOC trip. Hope it’s the first of many!
Participants: Hirdesh Bajwa, Eric Daigle, Isabella Han, Vivian Tao