With May-long fast approaching I was yearning to get outside. Like an addict looking for his next fix, I was shaking with the prospect of scaling to the top of a mountain. I didn’t just want to go, I NEEDED to go. Luckily for me, Nelson Fretenburg had a similar desire to do something active, so we set our sights on Mount MacFarlane, located in the Chilliwack River Valley.
The drive to the trail (Pierce Lake trail) was uneventful and before I knew it, I was pulling into the gravel parking lot. We donned our rucksacks and got going. An information booth at the trailhead warned us about how the trail crosses briefly into a firing range. Luckily for us on this particular day, the Canadian military had no plans of testing their top secret nuclear bombs and so we were clear to continue.
We took a couple paces onto the trail and I veered off to the left towards an appealing outhouse. Although the Canadian military had no plans of dropping bombs, I sure as hell did. I plopped down onto the seat, relinquishing a sigh of relief as I made room for lunch. Satiated, I moved my hand to the toilet paper dispenser, and I felt around. Empty. Anxiety rising, I felt around some more, willing the nonexistent toilet paper into existence. Again, my hands came up bare. Although toilet paper is only 166 years old, to me it is an inalienable right, second only to the life, liberty and security of the person (Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). Luckily for me, just outside of the shitter was a beautiful tree with large, lush leaves. Nature’s toilet paper. I snatched a few and retreated to my secluded dwelling in order to finish my business.
“You all good in there??” Nelson hollered.
“All good” I called out, stumbling out of the latrine.
We started up the trail. The reason that me and Nelson chose this hike was because it had a decent amount of elevation gain, 1770m to be exact. Throughout the school year, we had accumulated a respectable amount of alcohol ingestion during our travels with the UBC ski (read drinking) team and it was finally time to burn off some of those fun, albeit unnecessary calories.
The trail is steep, but well marked. It crosses a boulder field before angling down towards Pierce Creek. On the shore of the raging rapids, a log bridge leads across. From here, the rest of the way to the lake is a steep plod through second growth forest. By the time we finally reached the lake, we were huffing and puffing and quite tired. All that damn Natty Ice (cheapest American beer money can buy) we were drinking was catching up to us. We made our way to the bench by the lakeshore and dug into our lunches, homemade sushi for me, and a ham sammy for Nelson. No beer for either unfortunately.
Hunger subsided and our legs slightly rested, we forged on. Spotty snow started appearing at 1450m, just before a small clearing with a beautiful waterfall above us. We donned our gaiters and continued on, crossing two semi-sketchy snow bridges. The trail makes its way to the left of the waterfall darting in between rock fields and the forest. We had a fun time postholing as the snow over the rock fields was just thin enough to give the illusion of stability while being as hollow as a pumpkin. The snow became consistent at 1700m. We debated putting on our crampons or microspikes (we brought both) but the snow was so soft that it was not necessary. After a prolonged snow slope, we finally arrived at the Upper Pierce Lake basin where we took a moment to eat some snacks, replenished our water bottles, and looked at the view.
Not more than 5 minutes had passed when Nelson loudly exclaimed “time to go”. At this point I was feeling extremely tired, but momma didn’t raise no bitch, so I sprung up onto my wobbly legs and brandished my ice axe. The trail follows the east ridge all the way up to the summit. There are a couple short scrambling sections and a couple short steep snow sections but nothing we couldn’t overcome. As we reached the summit, we were taken aback by the beautiful views of the entire Chilliwack river area. Mt. Slesee, Mt. Rexford and the entire Cheam range standing imposingly before us. This feeling of greatness did not last for long, as clouds moved in from all directions, shrouding us in fog for the rest of our hike. With no view and seemingly no reason to be up there, we retraced our steps back down towards Upper Pierce Lake.
Here, we opted to have a short half hour nap. The nap was nice. Almost too nice. I didn’t want to get up. In order to wake us up for the gruelling trek back down, Nelson opted to blast some hardstyle music. For those who are unaware, hardstyle is an electronic dance genre that emerged in the late 1990s, with origins in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. Hardstyle mixes influences from techno, new beat and hardcore. If you are curious what it sounds like click here for a great Spotify playlist. After raving on the snow for a good 10 minutes and with our ears sufficiently ringing with the sound of 140 BPM kickdrums, we started back down.
The way down was uneventful and mostly painful. Running down steep slopes is not advisable for the knees. Safe to say I was happy as we rounded the final corner to the parking lot two hours later. Overall, this hike was very enjoyable. Beautiful views, and a good workout. Safe to say I will be coming back here again in the future. We got into the car, and Nelson put on the tunes. “Set Fire To The Rain Hardstyle” by Sick Legend blasting out of the speakers as we rode into the sunset, satisfied at another peak bagged.